The game between the Thunder and the Bucks on Monday was extremely chippy, especially considering that after the first quarter, the end result was never really in doubt. Oklahoma City sprinted out to an early 17-point lead and won by 20, with Milwaukee never getting closer than 10 the rest of the way.
There were seven technical fouls in all, with two of them being handed out to Serge Ibaka and Mike Dunleavy for their little dust-up shown in the video clip above. Ibaka puts sort of a death grip on Dunleavy there, and Dunleavy tries to escape by using a downward chopping maneuver that just misses after Ibaka decided to let him go.
Dunleavy isn’t a small man; he’s listed at 6’9″. But he clearly couldn’t shake the one-armed super-strength of Ibaka, and one wonders if he had connected with that chop of his if the league would have considered that a “punch” by its rules and handed down a suspension.
James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury
Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.
“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”
Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.
But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.
Video Breakdown: Rockets launch Eric Gordon from 3-point range against Thunder in Game 4
While the Rockets didn’t shoot a stellar percentage from 3-point range — just 31.5 percent — they still knocked down 11 buckets from deep. Part of that action was a play run for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Eric Gordon that included a little semi-Pistol action, and a stagger screen that allowed Gordon to work his way free.
I picked this play to go over this week because it exemplifies just how committed to the 3-point shot the Rockets are. Plus, Gordon ran around three screens just to get this one bucket, which is always fun to see.
Watch the full video breakdown above.
Jimmy Butler on Marcus Smart dustup: ‘He’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down’
As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he’s a great actor. Acting tough, that’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that, and I’m the wrong guy to get in my face. So, he needs to take it somewhere else because I’m not the one for that.
Was that their first run-in? Butler:
That’s the first time. Last time, too. We’re not going to sit here and get in each other’s faces like that. Like I said, he’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down.
The Bulls, who’ve lost two straight to allow Boston to tie the series 2-2, is angling for any edge. Butler tried to intimidate Smart on the court, and the Chicago wing might actually rattle the too easily shakable Smart with his postgame comments.
The irony: Some might say Butler, who did come up hard, lost touch with his roots as he entered stardom. I don’t buy that, at least not majorly.
But even if both – or neither – are posturing to any degree, this will be a matchup to watch in Game 5.
Remembering former NBA official Jess Kersey, who passed away Saturday
Jess Kersey, who officiated more than 2,200 NBA games, including being part of 19 NBA Finals, passed away over the weekend, losing his battle with cancer at age 76.
Kersey was a well-respected official who feared nothing. Maybe the most remembered image of Kersey is him trying to break up a fight between Mitch Kupchak and Hakeem Olajuwon, essentially trying to tackle Olajuwon with his head in Olajuwon’s chest and his arms wrapped around him. Kersey got in the middle of everything if that was what was required.
The NBA family mourns the passing of former longtime referee Jess Kersey.
Jess relished the job and was one of the best at his craft.