NBA Playoffs: You can’t tarnish the Lakers’ franchise legacy, but their team sure tried

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So this is how it ends. What felt like an inevitable run to the second three-peat for Kobe Bryant, the fourth three-peat for Phil Jackson, and yet another championship for the Los Angeles Lakers, ended in nothing but misery and classlessness in Dallas, Texas. A Hall of Fame coach most known for his motivational tactics witnesses his team outright quit, then conduct themselves in a reprehensible manner, down 30.

Observe, first Lamar Odom, after getting words from Dirk Nowitzki after missing front iron on free throws. Yes, free throws.

This from a veteran, the guy who when plugged in is the difference between a Lakers win and a loss more often than not. It wasn’t the worst foul, it was just so blatantly intentional. Odom was ineffective, along with the entirety of the Lakers. But to respond with such a petty approach as he is being swept out? It’s not even outrageous. It’s just sad.

Not as sad as Andrew Bynum, though.

Classless? Check. Unnecessary? Check. Predictable? You betcha. This is Andrew Bynum, who put Gerald Wallace in the hospital, and cracked Michael Beasley on a similar play this season. He was excused for it being an accident both times, but this just reaffirms the fact that Bynum’s still emotionally volatile to the point of recklessness. It’s a shame because if there was one Laker who actually played with intensity and execution, it’s Andrew Bynum. But Bynum won’t be displaying those skills for several games next season as he’ll be serving a very well-deserved suspension.

So what was more disgusting? A champion going down in such an effortless failure or the players responding to said adversity by committing petty fouls and drawing ejections? The winner is no one.

But the lack of effort should be noted as well. Instead of fighting to the bitter end and making a simple adjustment: defending the three and forcing the Mavericks to beat them inside, the Lakers stood by and watched as Jason Terry nailed three after three after three. Derek Fisher occasionally strolled by to try and “run him off” but on several possessions, no one was there.

This is the franchise of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of Robert Horry, the .04 shot, the Shaq alley-oop, and the past two championships. And instead the Zen Master watched as his troops failed to commit, then committed an epic display of petulance to send him off. Nothing can tarnish the legacy of the Lakers, arguably the greatest franchise in the NBA, in all of sports.

But man, did they try hard in Game 4.

Kevin Durant: Liking anti-Russell Westbrook Instagram comment was ‘total accident’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Kevin Durant liked an Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook.

Here we go again?

Royce Young of ESPN:

I’m not inside Durant’s mind. He could be lying to cover another burner Instagram snafu.

But I tend to believe him. It’s easy enough to accidentally click like, and the greater context is on his side.

Durant has always tried to downplay a feud with Westbrook. Even at the personal rivalry’s peak, Durant just seemed as if he wanted Westbrook to like him. So, it’s nearly impossible to believe Durant – even for a button-pushing moment – wanted to publicly slight Westbrook.

But maybe Durant wanted quiresultan or some other alter-ego to do so? Maybe, as beaten down as he looked by the controversy over those deleted tweets last summer, Durant didn’t learn his lesson and still uses burner accounts. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.

Again, though, this would be a weird message. Last summer’s deleted tweets praised Westbrook while slamming the rest of the Thunder. Durant was going to have a burner account take the opposite stance now? That doesn’t really add up.

NBA apparently reviewing whether Russell Westbrook should be suspended for Thunder-Jazz Game 5

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The NBA has a hard rule during altercations: Any players who leave the bench area receives a one-game suspension. Intent doesn’t matter. It’s not negotiable. The league simply doesn’t want more players entering a fracas.

Russell Westbrook found a gray area last night.

The Thunder star was waiting to check into Oklahoma City’s Game 4 loss to the Jazz when Raymond Felton fouled Rudy Gobert, um, unpleasantly. Gobert and Felton got into it, though not immediately. Once they did, Westbrook walked onto the court, and he and Gobert swiped at each other.

Gobert and Felton eventually received technical fouls. But could harsher punishment be in store, especially for Westbrook?

Andy Larsen of KSL.com:

A pool reporter request to the game officials to ask them about the play was initiated, but the NBA indicated that the officials wouldn’t comment on the matter because it would be reviewed by the league’s disciplinary committee.

The key question should be: Did a referee already beckon Westbrook into the game? If one did, Westbrook shouldn’t be suspended. If none did, Westbrook should be suspended.

The league will talk to the refs and get a better understanding of what happened. Their account matters most.

But one indicator working against Westbrook: Steven Adamswhose toughness is beyond reproach – was also waiting to check in and stayed on the sideline. If Adams had already entered the game, wouldn’t he have gotten involved? Maybe not, but his hanging back is circumstantial evidence pointing toward a Westbrook suspension.

Again, though, the referees’ accounts matter far more.

Russell Westbrook on matchup with Ricky Rubio: ‘Let’s get past that. We’re done with that’

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After Ricky Rubio‘s 26-point triple-double in Game 3, Russell Westbrook said, “I’ma shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

Westbrook definitely tried. The Thunder star defended Rubio far more aggressively in Game 4 last night. But Westbrook also fouled Rubio four times in the first half and played too out of control, committing five turnovers. Rubio (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists) wasn’t nearly as individually excellent, but his passing keyed the Jazz’s offense.

Most importantly, Utah outscored Oklahoma City by 12 in the 30 minutes the point guards shared the court and won 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.

How did the matchup with Rubio go, Russ?

Westbrook:

It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.

How convenient.

Westbrook is the one who brought attention to the individual matchup. He took stopping Rubio upon himself. Now, when it didn’t go well, Westbrook suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it?

Maybe Westbrook realized he got carried away, to the detriment of his team. It’s not too late to fix that, and this could be his attempt to do so before Game 5 Wednesday.

But he also must own the egg on his face for putting the spotlight on Westbrook-Rubio and then dodging the attention once the matchup went south.

Rockets 50, Timberwolves 20: Most dominant playoff quarter in shot-clock era (video)

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James Harden missed a floater and clapped in frustration. The Rockets’ third quarter in Game 4 against the Timberwolves didn’t get off to a great start. Harden’s shooting had underwhelmed since Game 2.

Then, Harden and Houston broke out of the funk – in a big way.

The Rockets outscored Minnesota 50-20 in the third quarter of their 119-100 victory last night, giving Houston a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. The 30-point margin in the third quarter was tied for the most lopsided playoff quarter in the shot-clock era:

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Harden singlehandedly outscored the Timberwolves himself, 23-20. Paul added 15.

The Rockets shot 5-of-10 on 2-pointers, 9-of-13 on 3-pointers and 13-of-13 on free throws. Houston committed no turnovers and offensively rebounded a third of its misses.

It was incredible output, even for the NBA’s best offense.

The Rockets’ 50 points were second-most in a playoff quarter – and the most in a victory – in the shot-clock era. The leaderboard:

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