Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson, Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins

Thunder want to remind you that you counted them out before


MIAMI — Just a couple weeks ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder were down 2-0 to a San Antonio Spurs team that had won 20 games in a row and looked pretty dominant doing it. Everyone was starting to picture how the Spurs matched up with the East.

Four games later, the Thunder were in the NBA finals for the first time since moving to Oklahoma City.

“Our guys know, it’s fresh in our minds,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of that comeback. “It was just last series that we were down 0-2. I mean, we’re definitely down. Our back is against the wall, but it’s not over. We still have some fight in us. We’re just going to have to play tomorrow night with the urgency that you have to play with, that we’ve done.”

They have been close — Miami is up 3-1 in the NBA finals but all of the Heat’s victories have been by single digits. The total points scored through four games has the Heat up just +5. The Thunder have had their chances in every game, but Miami has executed better late. Miami has gotten contributions from guys like Mario Chalmers (25 points in Game 4) and Shane Battier.

The Thunder were a dejected team in the wake of Game 4, but by Wednesday afternoon they just sounded more frustrated at their blown chances. They know they don’t need much to get a win.

Just something like the real James Harden to show up. He had better in Game 5 and if he does the Thunder might well force a Game 6.

But don’t expect Brooks to change things up.

“I don’t think the game comes down to who plays and who doesn’t play. It’s how we play,” Brooks said. “I think the last couple of games they made a few plays that we did not make, and it always comes down to that.”

To a man the Thunder thought that if they can win Game 5 and get this series back to Oklahoma City, they stand a real chance.

What’s that going to take? Westbrook said toughness.

“We’ve just got to pay attention to the details,” Kevin Durant said. “We’ve got to do the smart things. We’ll be fine.”

PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant understands now is time to walk away

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It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.

It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.

In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.

More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.

Luke Walton: Warriors concerned about health, not 72 wins

Andre Iguodala, Luke Walton
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Stephen Curry acknowledges the Warriors – who are 18-0 and won four straight to end last season – talk about the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.

But what about another major record Golden State is chasing, 72 wins in a season?

Shooting guard Klay Thompson called it possible. General manager Bob Myers deemed it impossible.

Interim coach Luke Walton would prefer everyone just keep quiet.

Walton, via CSN Bay Area:

“The 72 thing is far, far away,” Walton said. “We shouldn’t be spending any time thinking about that.

“I’ve also said before that we’re not going to coach this season trying to chase that record,” Walton said

“We’re still going to give players nights off on back-to-backs,” he added. “And we’re going to do our best to limit minutes for some of our players. Our main concern is being healthy come playoff time.”

I don’t think Golden State will win 72 games, but prioritizing health won’t necessary stop the Warriors. They’re so deep.

They outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry sits, 5.6 when Draymond Green sits. Those marks would rank seventh among all NBA teams.

Golden State has the luxury of resting players and continuing to win. That’s what makes the chase for 72 realistic. This team is less likely than most to wear down late in a season where it’s pushing to win every game.

Health entering the playoffs is important, but a 72-win season would raise these Warriors to legendary status. If they’re in range late in the season, I think they’ll go for it – even if the top seed is already secured.

But for now, Walton is probably taking the right approach. Plenty of teams start fast (though never this fast) then drift back toward the pack. No point risking Golden State’s health yet.

Kevin Durant to media: You treated Kobe Bryant ‘like s—‘

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant once told the media, “You guys really don’t know s—.”

The Thunder star expressed regret, but if he knew how we were going to treat Kobe Bryant, he might have stuck to his guns.

Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him. He was our Michael Jordan. I watched Michael towards the end of his career when he was with the Wizards, and I seen that’s what Kobe emerged as the guy for us.

I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like s—. He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting. It’s time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like s—, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year. It was sad the way he was getting treated, in my opinion.

But he had just an amazing career, a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically. Means so much to the game of basketball. Somebody I’m always going to look to for advice, for help, for anything. Just a brilliant, brilliant, intelligent man. And it’s sad to see him go.

Kobe is shooting 20% from the floor and 30% on 3-pointers for a 2-14 team. How else should we describe his season?

Why not bash the person most publicly critical of Kobe? Or the many people around the NBA who recognize how far Kobe has fallen? Or Byron Scott, who has repeatedly intensified discussion of Kobe’s demise?

Why is the media, which is not some monolithic entity anyway, the primary target?

There are writers who fawn over Kobe, writers who criticize him and many more who do both. We don’t all think alike.

If we did, Durant would be bound to treat Kobe like s—, too.

Hassan Whiteside thanks Hassan Whiteside in Kobe Bryant tribute


Like many players, Hassan Whiteside posted a tribute to Kobe Bryant upon the Laker star’s retirement announcement.

But Whiteside’s is a bit, um, different.

Whiteside salutes himself for making Kobe smile. (That’s not a smile.) The Heat center also tweeted a screenshot of the Instagram post with the hashtag “#koberetire,” which sounds pretty commanding.

Is Whiteside in on the joke or is he that self-centered? I’m honestly not entirely sure.