Game of the night: Russell Westbrook apparently really likes triple overtime

1 Comment

There was no Kevin Durant, no Devin Harris. Their knees would not allow it. That is why a lot of people did not notice that the Thunder and Nets were hooking up Wednesday night — but it turned out to be the best game you didn’t watch.

It had triple overtime. It had brilliant plays and stupefying mistakes. It had ridiculous shots. And in the end, it hand the best player on the floor — Russell Westbrook — taking over in the third overtime and winning it for the Thunder 123-120.

Lets start with how we even got to the first overtime.

Anthony Morrow is an elite shooter in this league who often gets overlooked (people thought his stats were the result of the Don Nelson “system” with the Warriors, but Morrow was one of the few efficient scorers on that team last season).

The Thunder are not overlooking him now — with less than a second on the clock a leaning three to send the game to overtime. Some might call it lucky, but is it lucky when Kobe or Manu hit shots like that? Morrow can knock those down. The Nets are figuring out they have something specil

He hit another three and a rainbow-arching 15 footer over his defender in overtime on his way to 25 for the game. It looked again like this one was the Nets, up six it halfway through it. Then with less than a minute in overtime the Nets kept giving Russell Westbrook good look 15 footers. He got hot, something the Thunder would regret. Meanwhile Jordan Farmar drove and kicked to — Brook Lopez 21 feet out. Hard to believe that your center taking a long two was really what Avery Johnson wanted, but it’s what he got.

Second overtime starts like the first, with the Nets ahead and looking like they should have this one. The Thunder fouled, Morrow kept knocking down shots. So it was time for the Thunder’s last second desperation three to tie and the Nets will win… so long as nobody fouls the shooter. We’re looking at you, Stephen Graham. He fouls Jeff Green in the act, and Green (who finished with 37) drained them.

Jordan Farmar got the inbound and tried to go coast to coast and win I t right there. With the Lakers, he was a guy known for hitting tough shots at the end of the first three quarters (you think he got to take them at the end of the fourth with Kobe on the team?). Not this time. Missed. And we have a third overtime.

Earlier in the night Westbrook had trouble finishing in the paint early but once he got going from the midrange he was hitting shots from anywhere he wanted. Like another 15 footer over Kris Humphries. Two trips later down the court Westbrook missed but followed his shot (just like your coach used to tell you to do) and got in unmarked, got the board and the put back). He was taking over.

Then with a chance to close it out, he nearly broke Travis Outlaw’s ankles with a crossover, drove down into Brook Lopez, scored the bucket and got the and-one. Westbrook (who finished with 38 points) scored all 13 of the Thunder points in that final overtime and got his team the win.

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins. But without Durant, in a game they should have lost a few times over, you take it and don’t look back. Call it gutty if you want. The Thunder are finding ways to win, not unlike what happened last year, and if they really are putting it together the rest of the West should be worried.

Cleveland OKs last chunk of financing to upgrade Cavs’ arena

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland officials have committed the final chunk of financing for $140 million in upgrades planned at the Cavaliers’ home arena.

The makeover of Quicken Loans Arena would include more space for dining and gathering.

The cost of renovations to the concert and sports venue is being split by the city, the team, Cuyahoga County, and a convention and visitors bureau. The final total is expected to be roughly double the initial $140 million price tag, mostly because of interest over the next two decades.

Cleveland’s share is an estimated $88 million over 11 years, starting in 2024. Mayor Frank Jackson signed off on that Tuesday.

The county already approved the deal and agreed to sell bonds for the project.

The team committed to extend its lease at the arena to 2034. It is expected the team will make a bid to host the NBA All-Star game once renovations are complete.

Did Russell Westbrook really block a teammates shot to get ball back during Game 5?

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Well, this video plays right into the hands of the anti-Westbrook crowd.

The knock on Russell Westbrook‘s season-long triple double and MVP candidacy is that he is chasing stats, padding his numbers at the expense of efficiency and making the Thunder a better team. Basically, he’s looking out for himself and to heck with his teammates.

Which leads to this fourth-quarter video from Game 5.

It sure looks like Westbrook blocks Jerami Grant‘s shot to get the rebound (we only have the one camera angle here).

I would argue that this was just Westbrook being uber aggressive — the only way he ever plays — and he was going hard for the rebound and not noticing it was his teammate about to get the ball. Westbrook just wants the ball and gets it. But he also wants to win and would not have taken the ball out of Grant’s hands had he seen who it was in time to react.

Game 5 — where the Rockets eliminated the Thunder — was a microcosm of the Westbrook debate. Westbrook finished with 47 points on 15-of-34 shooting, but was 2-of-11 in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City was +12 in the 41:52 that Westbrook played, but was -18 in the 6:07 he sat. You can read whatever you want into those numbers.

Much like the video above.

Former Pacers’ star Danny Granger on Paul George: “you can’t fault him if he leaves Indiana”

1 Comment

There was a time when Paul George was an up-and-coming but raw young player on an Indiana team led by Danny Granger. It was when Granger went down injured that George was thrust into a larger role, where he thrived in the trial by fire.

Granger knows what it’s like to be the star player of the Pacers, and he knows George, so on Bill Reiter asked Granger his thoughts during an episode of CBS’ “Reiter Than You” and Granger’s answer was not what Pacers fans wanted to hear.

“You look at him in that press conference (after losing to Cleveland) and his face and the dejection on it – the guy wants to win. Money don’t make everybody happy, but winning and success and your craft, that does fill a void that a lot of these players have. So you can’t fault him if he leaves Indiana, I’ll tell you that.”

Oh, Pacers fans will fault him. Even if he’s traded.

Pacers’ decision maker Larry Bird isn’t going to do anything until he sees if George makes an All-NBA Team, because if he does Indiana can offer him the new “designated player” contract this summer worth around $80 million more guaranteed than any other team can offer. George will not walk away from that.

However, if, as expected, George doesn’t make an All-NBA team, Bird is going to have to revisit the idea of trading George, who can be a free agent in 2018 — and the sense around the league is he will walk away at that point if the Pacers are not contenders. (There are a lot of Lakers’ rumors there, but whether George would leave a team where he is dragging lesser players to a low playoff seed and a first-round exit in Indiana for the same situation in his old hometown is up for debate.)

Bird isn’t going to deal George for pennies on the dollar at this point — think the Kings’ trading DeMarcus Cousins — but if some team comes through with a legitimate quality offer of young players that can help jump start the rebuild in Indiana, he may have to jump at it.

Either way, Granger is right that you can’t blame George for wanting to move on, but plenty of fans will anyway.

Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley keep trading insults in postgame press conferences

3 Comments

Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley were having their war of words during Tuesday night’s close-out game that ended the Thunder season, and they both picked up technical fouls for it.

The two continued that postgame speaking to the media.

Westbrook was up first, and he was asked what happened between him and Beverley (see the video above).

“He was talking about he was first team all-defense, but I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about because I had 42 at the time, I don’t know, maybe he was dreaming or some s—.”

You know the media was going to ask Beverley about that.

“He said no can guard me I’ve got 40 points, I’m like, that’s nice but you took 34 shots to get it.”

So, no Christmas card exchange for those two.

For the record, Westbrook finished the game with 47 points on 15-of-34 shooting, but he was 2-of-11 in the fourth quarter as he started to wear down. The Thunder were +12 in the 41:52 that Westbrook played, but were -18 in the 6:07 he sat to get rest. The game was almost a Rorschach test for what you think of Westbrook on the season — he wasn’t terribly efficient, but he carried OKC as far as he could, that just wasn’t as far as James Harden could take a superior Rockets’ team. If you were in the Harden (or Kawhi Leonard) for MVP camp, you can point to the inefficiency and the end result. If you’re team Westbrook you can point to the raw numbers and what happened in the limited time he sat.

Also, Beverley is going to make an NBA All-Defensive team. If he doesn’t make the first team, that’s more about the time he missed due to injury (and a good field of guards who can defend) than his play.

Beverley has the advantage now of being able to turn his attention to how to defend Tony Parker (or maybe Mike Conley), as the Rockets are advancing to the next round.