Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Two

Russell Westbrook freaked out over a blown play


The popular storyline coming out of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was the benching of Russell Westbrook and his perceived frustration on the bench, despite his obvious celebrations of the team’s success in winning the game down the stretch. ESPN has the scoop on what exactly happened that made Westbrook so upset during Game 2.

In the closing minute of the third quarter of Oklahoma City’s 106-100 victory against Dallas, Westbrook made a play call that his teammates failed to run properly. When the play broke down, Westbrook made a one-on-one move that resulted in a turnover.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks promptly took Westbrook, who had four turnovers, out of the game. Brooks slapped the All-Star point guard on his backside as he walked by.

Westbrook turned around and glared at the court. Then, when Brooks walked toward him and made a comment, Westbrook yelled, “I’m trying to run the [expletive] play, man.”

Westbrook continued yelling on the bench for roughly a minute — saying, “Tell them to run the [expletive] play,” according to the source — prompting assistant coach Maurice Cheeks to console him as play continued.

via Source: Russell Westbrook ‘benching’ stemmed from botched play – ESPN.

So something that wasn’t a story two days ago still isn’t a story. How many times have you seen a player express frustration over a blown play call? The Boston Celtics did it about 1,700 times this season and no one’s saying it’s a big deal for the Celtics’ locker room chemistry. Westbrook is clearly a fiery competitor, and it’s true that eventually, he’s going to want to stop being treated as Robin to Kevin Durant’s humble, quiet, and difficult to find due to the lack of space he crates off-ball Batman. But this story is really just one of a key turnover by a young star, and the result being a bench run which encouraged the coach to stick with his guys.

The chemistry on the Thunder is becoming more complex with each element of success they reach, but it’s natural to expect some friction. Let’s not get carried away just because Westbrook had a turnover on a blown play. There’s much more dynamite in the stack than just this.

Stan Van Gundy rips ‘selfish’ Pistons

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The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.

Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.

On offensive problems:

I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball

On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:

He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.

On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:

We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.

Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.

But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.

Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.

Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.

He’d appreciate them getting this message.

Report: Dwight Howard didn’t have offseason surgery

Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.

So, um, did he have offseason surgery?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.

We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?