Baxter Holmes of the L.A. Times on sleep: “When tired, even after a nap, most NBA players do what many non-athletes do: ingest a stimulant. Lakers guard Matt Barnes loves 5-hour Energy Shots. Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins prefers a B-12 vitamin shot or two. His Thunder teammate Serge Ibaka likes green tea, as does Clippers star Blake Griffin. Coffee doesn’t seem to be popular among NBA players. “Coffee makes you too jittery,” Perkins said.”
Steve Aschburner of NBA.com in a roundtable on if OKC is in trouble: “When I saw the Thunder in Milwaukee recently, I was awed by their firepower, chemistry and aggressiveness. But I didn’t fully factor in the opposition – the Bucks offered no resistance in the paint or at the rim, and Russell Westbrook was matchup hell for both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Serge Ibaka blocked five shots in a quarter … but five Bucks’ shots. My concern is that against bigger teams – up front and in the backcourt – OKC is the club that plays smaller, relying on jump shots, without much in the low post and without enough defensive tenacity. There are no perfect teams this season, these guys included.”
Berry Tramel on playoff matchups and homecourt: “But hope has emerged as the Thunder slowly slips. If OKC finishes as the No. 2 seed, its matchups look much more promising. Don’t underestimate matchups. Every team is equipped to combat certain teams better than others. I don’t claim to know the league-wide matchup problems, but I know the Thunder’s. The Thunder clearly wants to avoid Memphis. The Grizzlies were a tough out in the 2011 playoffs, upsetting the top-seeded Spurs, then taking the Thunder to seven games in the West semifinals.”
Ian Levy of Hickory High on clutch time: “It’s striking how limited the Thunder appear to be in crunch time. Across the regular season they’ve been a three-headed best offensively, but with the game on the line James Harden takes 9.4 fewer shots per 40 minutes. Most of those shots are gobbled up by Kevin Durant, but Russell Westbrook also shoots more often in close games. Combined those two players average an extra 11.5 possessions used per 40 minutes. Both are talented players but they shoot worse from the field in close games than they do across the entire season. It’s still a legitimate question as to whether their rigid offensive duality in close games make them easier to defend. I mean no slight to Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka and the rest of the Thunder, but given the way their team has approached close games all season, is there any reason an opposing coach would you pay defensive attention to anyone besides Durant or Westbrook?”
ESPN Stats and Info: “James Harden finished with a career-high 40 points. He’s the first player in the last 2 seasons to score at least 40 points off the bench. The last player to score 40 points in a game when coming off the bench: Rodrique Beaubois for Dallas on March 27, 2010.”
James Harden tweeting after his career night: “All Glory to God.”
Alvin Gentry says Harden is the third best shooting guard: “We were talking the other day as a coaching staff,” Gentry said. “We named obviously Kobe Bryant and we named Dwyane Wade and then we said, ‘OK, who’s the next 2-guard you would take?’ Throw me out a name? … other than those two guys, to come up with a guy who’s playing better than Harden is this year. He’s really right there.”
Oklahoma City changed forever 17 years ago today. Take a second to think about the 168 Oklahomans that lost their lives in the Murrah bombing, and the thousands still affected by it.