Darnell Mayberry: “The best part about the win, aside from the mix of terrific offense and defense, was that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant didn’t have to be dominant. They both played well. But the Thunder got contributions from many. Serge Ibaka again battled Blake Griffin. Reggie Jackson was just fantastic off the bench. Jeremy Lamb knocked down shots and played some really impressive defense. Derek Fisher decided he was going to defend anyone Brooks threw him on and defend them well.”
Darren Rovell of ESPN.com: “Brad Brucker’s mid-court heave on Thursday night came after another fan, Cameron Rodriguez, made good on his try Monday night. Two fans hit the shot in March and one connected during the playoffs in April. The team says its fans went 90 games without a winner in 2008 and 2009. The odds of hitting a half-court shot are roughly 1 in 100, but Thursday night marked the eighth time in 230 total tries that a fan cashed in. While promotions like these are normally insured, Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney told ESPN.com that these shots are not. Instead, the sponsor, MidFirst Bank has been paying out the prize.”
Ben Golliver on Mullens leaving Steven Adams hanging: “Perhaps Mullens was subjecting Adams to a little rookie hazing or, more likely, he was simply doing his part to hold up the bad blood that’s developed between these two Western Conference powers. A scrum broke out between the Clippers and Thunder last week which eventually led to Matt Barnes’ ejection and Serge Ibaka hit Blake Griffin with a low blow last year. None of those previous incidents tops the hilarity of the Adams/Mullens non-handshake though. Both teams should go ahead and pin this one straight to their bulletin boards.”
David Thorpe of ESPN.com has Steven Adams No. 2 in his rookie rankings: “Adams was involved in an altercation with Vince Carter earlier in the season which resulted in Carter being ejected for viciously elbowing Adams. Carter did that in response to getting elbowed hard in the jaw by Adams first. But Adams was simply pivoting and protecting the ball, while Carter intentionally nailed Adams. The play was indicative of the toughness Adams plays with — he was not at all upset that Carter hit him the way he did. Adams just kept playing and had no real reaction to the violent act. That suggests positive things for him and his team going forward. This is a big man who is comfortable in the trenches.”
Berry Tramel: “Jay Z and Beyoncé sat courtside. From what I’m told, they’re a fairly big deal in the music business. I guess that makes them the biggest celebrities to watch a ballgame on Reno Avenue. Step aside, James Cromwell. But Charles Barkley was here, too, calling the game for TNT, and so were Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, ghosts of Oklahoma hoops past. Then a Piedmont schoolteacher tossed in a half-court shot to win $20,000 and ignite an already-burning building. And best of all, the Thunder zipped to a 9-1 lead and whipped the Clippers 105-91 Thursday night. Talk about a fun night at the opera.”
Mark Deeks of SB Nation on the repeater tax: “Next season, the repeater tax, which penalizes teams for being over the luxury tax for multiple seasons, comes into force. It is thought to be one of the toothiest new pieces of apparatus for revenue sharing and attempted market equality that the 2011 CBA has to offer. How toothy will it be? Potentially, very. The first challenge any franchise has is to build a good team. The second challenge is to keep it good. The first challenge is hard enough that about 20 franchises fail at it every season. The repeater tax is a direct and emphatic attack upon the second.”
Small programming note: I’ll be out of town for a few days so I’m turning over things to my managing editor, Mrs. Daily Thunder. So behave yourselves and be nice.