Tag: Oklahoma City Thunder
Well, this is certainly not how we had expected this series to go. On the one hand, it was unclear all along whether the Thunder would be able to cope with the absence of the injured Russell Westbrook. And yet, although Durant can certainly give the Thunder a huge edge, he really needs to get more production from his teammates, otherwise it is going to be very difficult for him to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. Particularly when Memphis goes ahead and changes the rhythm of their game and go for a very defensive oriented play. And that’s exactly where defensive player of the year, Marc Gasol, takes on the spotlight.
Gasol’s defensive presence was a huge factor in keeping the OKC Thunder to a series-low shooting percentage. Consider for a moment that although Durant would finish the night with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, he only got 2 points in the fourth quarter and shot 3 of 11 from the floor in the second half. Now, consider thar his teammates went a combined 23 of 69 for the game, and much of that had to do with Gasol’s almost supernatural hability to be in the right spot in the right time defensively.
And yet, it was the Spaniards offensive resurgence in the second half, that turn this game around and gave the Grizzlies the much-needed win at home. Gasol would have a very unsuccessful first half but he would go all-out in the second half to finish the night with 20 points, 16 of those coming after the break. He would also hit two free throws with 1:03 left to put Memphis ahead to stay and ultimately give the Gizzlies a 87-81 win on Saturday.
Game 2 is going to be played Monday night and a win here is key. Memphis has proven that they are a very difficult team to beat at home. So far this season they haven’t dropped one game at Memphis, and the record stretches back to 18-1 at home since February 8th. If they hope to win this series against the Thunder, a win on game 4 is a must. That way, they can plan on taking on the Western Conference semifinals by defending their home court advantage. Let’s not forget that these two teams met each other in the same instance last season, and it was the Thunder who would go on to win the series in 7 games.
Now, it’s payback time for Gasol and the rest of the squad. Tony Allen had his best game in this series, scoring 14 points for the Grizzlies. Jerryd Bayless chipped in with 11 while Zach Randolph, who had a very slow night for the Grizzlies scored only eight points but made up for it hanging on to 10 boards.
“Obviously, they beat us in a lot of different areas tonight,” said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who had a brilliant performance in the fourth quarter making all of his four free throws in clutch time. “For us to come away with the win, we are very happy. We will take it, but it just goes to show we have a lot of work to do. We have to do better the next game.”
The round two of the NBA Playoffs kicked off this Sunday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder hosted the Memphis Grizzlies at home, and one more time, Kevin Durant had a chance to prove that despite not winning this years MVP, he sure enough is among the finest active players in the league. Sure the Most Valuable Player award when to LeBron James, who has been a dominant force with the NBA defending champions the Miami Heat, but despite that, Durant want’s to make it clear that he is par with James. And no other statement will do that, but to make his team make it into the NBA Finals, were most likely the Miami Heat is going to be waiting for them, and beat the LeBron James and the Heat and give the Thunder their first NBA title.
For now, however, Durant and the Thunder have to get pass the Memphis Grizzlies who have shown that they will not be an easy target for Scott Brooks’ men. Durant had to go into overdrive mode and score 35 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists to lead Oklahoma City in a 93-91 win at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Sure, Durant was the best all around in the court, but it would be veteran Derek Fischer who would make the game-changing play and get the Thunder out of a very difficult situation. The Grizzlies were up by one point in the final minute of the game. And that’s where the old Fisher poked the ball away from Memphis’ Mike Conley. The ball went free and three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant sprint into the open court. He swerved and pulled off a nice jumper with 11.1 seconds left. “I just wanted to get up the floor as quick as possible and find a shot,” said Durant, who was second in the MVP race. “That was the only shot I could find and, by the grace of God, it went in.”
Thabo Sefolosha got on his defensive prowess to keep the Grizzlies from going ahead in the final 11 seconds. Marc Gasol finished the night with 20 points, 10 rebounds to guide the visiting team effort, who certainly managed to give the Thunder a good fight despite playing on the road. Game two of the series will be played in Oklahoma City on Tuesday and it wouldn’t be so much of a surprise if they managed to pull off a win on the road. The thing here is that the Thunder’s bench has been phenomenal, and if they can keep it up, it’s very hard to break that winning streak.
Kevin Martin scored 25 for Oklahoma City. The Thunder trailed for much of the game but was to turn things around and avoid once again losing game 1 loss as they did when the two teams met in the West semifinals two years ago. The Thunder were able to rally and win that series in seven games. Now, for the sake of making it into the Playoffs with the best shape, they better solve this series in 5 or 6 games before going head to head with the Miami Heat, or whoever may come out of the East.
We were excited to see a matchup between Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, the two most prolific scorers in the league as the Thunder hosted the streaking Knicks at home. New York has win 12 straight games after pulling off a 125-120 win on the road over Oklahoma City and at 50-26 for the season, this team is proving that they know exactly when to push for it. They are currently the hottest team in the league. Not only did they defeated the Miami Heat in this run, albeit, the Heat was a bit shorthanded at the moment, but they also managed to defeat the Thunder in a game were Russell Westbrook had 37 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists and Kevin Durant had 27 points and 7 assists. Yes, what is impressive is not that they pulled off the win, but rather that they did so on the road against a team that played so well down to the last second.
And that sort of battle is exactly what we are expecting to see in the Playoffs. This was certainly a postseason caliber game. But it was J.R. Smith who once again proved his potential in clutch situations. Facing crunch time, Raymond Felton sprinted into the paint were he slip and lost control. He barely managed to stretch over the floor and slap the ball towards J.R. Smith who, without missing a beat, took a step and made a three-pointer that would seal the deal for the Knicks.
If Felton was the crunch time sensation, it was Carmelo Anthony who kept on proving that he knows how to be in the right place in the right moment. He would go on to finish the night with 36 points and 12 rebounds. But J.R. Smith was the guy who pulled off the tricky shots. He finished with 22 points, including the two biggest shots of the game. First he connected a 23-foot jumper from the right as the 24-second clock expired to put New York up 117-113 with 1:30 to play. From there on the Knicks never looked back but it didn’t meant they were out of the troubled waters. He followed that with 3-pointer with 56.8 seconds left that all but sealed New York’s 50th win of the season.
Durant has now barely fell behind Carmelo Anthony as the leading scorer in the league. “We’re good. We’ve got five more games to go,” said Durant in the postgame press conference. He wouldn’t talk about it but it seems that this time he’s chances of been the NBA Scoring Champion for the 4th time in a row are seriously hurting. After the win, Carmelo Anthony’s scoring average improved one-tenth of a point to 28.44, while Durant’s stayed about the same at 28.35. “We lost a tough one. This team, they shot the ball well tonight. They hit some tough shots all night. We forced them to shoot some tough ones and they hit them(…). You’ve got to tip your hat to them, but other than that, what’s the need to panic for? We’re good.
It’s been a long time coming. For nine years now, the Indiana Pacers have tried to repeat and win another division title. At 48-28 for the season, the Pacers are just a game shy of securing that feat, so it was no surprise that at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Pacers fans were eager and fairly ready to celebrate their team winning the division. The Pacers would get some good performances from a couple of their best players. Roy Hibbert guided the home team’s efforts with 22 points and eight rebounds, while David West added 17 points and George Hill finished with 10. Nobody else reached double figures.
Before them, however, they had the Oklahoma City Thunder, a squad that coming off from the Western Conference and at 56-20 for the season have now evened the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference. There is no doubt so far that the Thunder is making some noise and that they are among the top three teams in the league.
The Thunder, however, had the motivation and even if we got a bit scare when we saw Kevin Durant, the three-straight-time scoring champion of the NBA go to the ground in the second quarter and hold his left calf, he was able to recover and return in the second half to dominate in the court. Despite his injury, Durant came out from the locker room in the third quarter to guide the Thunder and finished the night with 34 points and 9 rebounds. Russell Westbrook came around to chip in with 24 points, 7 rebounds and nine assists as the Thunder kept the Pacers from celebrating as the Oklahoma City Thunder schooled the Indiana Pacers giving them their worst home-loss so far this season. Truth is that the home team never had a chance and the 97-75 crushing was quite symbolic of the dominance the Thunder has had this second half of the season.
Let’s go ahead and consider for a moment that on Thursday night the Thunder took down the San Antonio Spurs 100-88 to prove their dominance over their conference rivals. They finished the game that night and flew straight to Indianapolis. Less than 16 hours after arriving at the team hotel, the Oklahoma was schooling the Pacers on their own court. They will now have to get some rest before facing another very though rival on Sunday. The two hottest scorers in the league, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant go head to head at Oklahoma City.
“It’s always tough playing back-to-backs no matter what, especially home and away,” said Durant, who leads the league in scoring for the third straight year. “We played a tough, tough team last night and then playing a team that plays so hard, plays so well in this building, you know it’s going to be tough. So we just wanted to come out and play hard for 48 minutes tonight and we’ll rest up tomorrow.” And they better rest as New York is coming off one heck of a run and promise to be a tough rival.