Ben Golliver of SI.com on Westbrook’s run-in with Beverley: “Although Westbrook was right to take a bit of offense to Beverley’s lunge, given that it nearly had undercutting potential, there’s really no hard and fast rule to the “we’re about to call a timeout” game situations. For example, Nuggets point guard Andre Miller has pretended that he was heading towards the sideline to call a timeout, only to quickly divert his path back towards the hoop in search of a cheap basket. A play like that is generally hailed for its veteran savvy; Beverley’s plan here wasn’t a terrible one and it wasn’t cheap, even if the contact and Westbrook’s immediate made everyone gasp a little bit. This is the playoffs and the default setting is “intense,” even during routine timeout situations. This sequence should be viewed as a win for Westbrook, whose ability to handle his emotions in tight situations is under a permanent microscope. He managed to negotiate an unusual situation in which he felt wronged without acquiring a technical foul and without taking himself mentally out of the game. He learned that Beverley isn’t someone he can take lightly and, in the process, gained a new motivation as the Thunder look to make quick work of the Rockets.”
Darnell Mayberry: “Kevin Durant didn’t score but four points in the fourth quarter. He hit a 3 and split a pair of free throws. But he had four assists in the final period and nine for the game. Equally important was his one turnover. I continue to be intrigued by Durant’s evolution as a playmaker. Think about how much more dangerous the world’s most dangerous scorer will be once he grows into a consistently reliable dual threat. It’s scary.”
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com: “But the point is, they’ve done it. So when situations like Wednesday night arise, there’s some confidence there. Some experience. Now, that doesn’t mean that experience will always be enough. Or that the Thunder don’t need to avoid falling into booby-traps like the ones McHale set for them in Game 2. It’s never going to be a good idea to shoot as many 3-pointers as the Rockets (35), for example. But if you’d going to shoot that much, you’d better make more than 11 of ‘em. Durant and Westbrook were just 3-for-16 from behind the arc. The Rockets very nearly beat the Thunder. Next time they might not be so fortunate to escape.”
Berry Tramel: “Let this series get to 1-1, and Houston has all kinds of hope. Now, not so much, even though the Rockets scrapped. Smallish point guard Patrick Beverley drew the ire of Westbrook by trying to steal the ball while Westbrook called timeout, causing a collision that turned Westbrook gimpy for a minute or two. Westbrook responded by playing alternately explosive and out of control. Later, Perkins delivered an elbow to the gut of Harden, clearing space for an easy basket and leaving the Rocket star slumped over, out of breath. The series is much more interesting than it looked after that Game 1 rout. But it seems surely headed for the same final result, thanks to the heroics of Durant.”
For CBSSports.com, I think the way the Thunder were pushed last night might pay later dividends.
ESPN Stats and Info: “The Thunder scored 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting in clutch time (last 5 minutes, score within 5 points), with scoring from 5 different Thunder players. During the regular season, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined to score 77.6 percent of Oklahoma City’s points in clutch time. But on Wednesday, it was jumpers from Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka that put the game away.”
Red 94: “What we’ve learned is that while the Thunder are the better team, the Rockets have enough X factors to push them. Oklahoma City is likely to adjust to Houston’s zone defense and punish them next game, but this series is no longer a cake walk. Houston might have to work twice as hard to make up for a talent difference, but they’re willing to work that hard. As painful as it may be, the Rockets are being forged in Oklahoma City’s crucible of fire.”
The Dream Shake: “These games are painful to watch at times, but extremely important for the Rockets’ growth as a young team. James Harden is growing into his role as a first option, Patrick Beverley is quietly becoming one of the better reserve guards in the league, and Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin are entering their first season in the playoffs. What they are finding is that it’s a completely different game. Just as this current Thunder team went through these growing pains, so must the Rockets. A year or two from now, and they’ll be better for it.”
Email I received yesterday from CB who has the email address sonics@f–kyou.com: “Established 2008? You people are a bunch o pathetic thieves that will be nothing more than a wart on your p—y a– owner face! F—-g morons!” Alright then.