Oklahoma City Thunder's Durant reacts after not getting a foul call against the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter during Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals in Oklahoma City

NBA finals Game 4 pregame notes: Brooks says Durant can’t worry about fouls

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Kevin Durant is not a player prone to foul trouble — he tends to dish out fouls to the unfortunate souls tasked with covering him, not get in trouble himself.

But in the last two games Durant has been in foul trouble and it has dramatically impacted Oklahoma City’s offense and execution. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before Game 4 his star player can’t let those fouls get into his head.

“You can’t worry about fouls, you really can’t,” Brooks said. “He had two games in a row where he has gotten into foul trouble. If he gets a third game, we’ve just got to deal with it. That’s what great players do….

“But he has to still be aggressive. We want Kevin to get to the free throw line himself. We feel that he is one of the best attack guys in the league.”

A few other notes from pregame in the AmericanAirlines Arena.

• Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s pregame mantra was the Heat “have to play to our identity.”

“I’d like us to come out with the same aggressive mentality,” as Game 3, Spoelstra said. “We didn’t necessarily do things smoothly, but the mentality is what we need. Defensively we want to continue to be aggressive.”

• Brooks largely danced around the question of Serge Ibaka saying LeBron James can’t guard Durant one-on-one.

“One of the things I did mention is both guys are very hard to guard. I don’t think anybody can guard the two best offensive players in the game one-on-one. You need a solid defender and you need a very good team defense behind it.

• We’ll see if that means we get more Thabo Sefolosha on LeBron in this one.

• To answer the most important question you have pregame, white towels are the giveaway.

• Spoelstra on the atmosphere in Miami and the AAA arena right now: “It’s electric in here. We don’t want to take it for granted, but it’s a great moment when your community gets behind you.”

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.