Tag: Denver Oklahoma City

Russell Westbrook

NBA Playoffs: Serge Ibaka swats Thunder into the second round


Is there a more fun team to watch play than the Oklahoma City Thunder?

They are pure passion on a basketball court. It was true again Wednesday night as this game had everything a basketball fan (especially an Oklahoma City one) could want — a come from behind win (they were down 9 at the three minutes left), big shots from Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and bigger ones from Kevin Durant (he finished with 41). Durant helped the Thunder take the lead on running floater across the lane — how do you defend a floater that a 6’9” player releases with his arm over his head?

But in the end, it was Serge Ibaka that won this game.

He had 9 blocks including two late in the game on Nene that sparked the 100-97 win for the Thunder, who advance to the second round for the first time since coming to the Midwest.

In a sense, this game played out like most of the series — Denver was plucky, energetic, they hit shots and made plays. Wilson Chandler awoke from his slumber and hit key shots. Ty Lawson was slashing the lane, as was Raymond Felton.

But with the game on the line, when it becomes harder to make those plays, the Thunder have the better athletes. They made the big plays. Usually we’re referring to Durant and Westbrook, not Ibaka. But this game the Thunder won with defense as much as offense.

The Thunder defended well, holding the Nuggets to 100 points per 100 possessions, which is 12 points below their league-leading regular season average. Oklahoma City has defended well all series and that was the key to their win. There used to be questions about their ability to defend inside but Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka change that.

And that should worry the rest of the teams in the West.

As for Denver, it should be proud.

A lot of teams would have folded after the Carmelo Anthony trade, but Denver played better team basketball at both ends of the floor. They played with a chip on their shoulder. They showed that there is some real talent on this team. It still needs its star — it’s Durant — but even without someone like that the Nuggets showed just good team play can go a long way. There is something there to build on.

The Thunder will try to build on this in the second round against Memphis or San Antonio, two teams that will continue to beat each other up while the Thunder sit at home and rest. And wait.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Frustrated J.R. Smith says he likely wont re-sign with Nuggets

Nuggets guard Smith celebrates a three-point shot in their NBA basketball game against the Timberwolves in Denver

They are frustrated in Denver. They have not been able to solve the Oklahoma City Thunder puzzle and are now down 2-0 in their first round playoff series.

J.R. Smith’s frustration boiled over Thursday, to the point he says he may choose not to re-sign with the Nuggets this summer, he told Benjamin Hochman at the Denver Post.

“There’s a strong possibility (he will sign elsewhere) as of right now,” Smith said. “It’s not going the way I planned it to go. It’s a tough situation. I want to be here, I love the fans and everything about the city. It’s just maybe not my fit.”

The Nuggets had a team meeting on Thursday and Smith said the team didn’t have “a pulse” as they regrouped at Pepsi Center.

“Just frustration, just really didn’t have any life in there,” Smith said. “No one was really into it.”

Smith played less than 7 minutes in Game 2 — he was 1-for-6 in a stretch at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second when Denver was outscored by 16 and the Thunder pulled away for good. Smith never got n the floor in the second half.

So he’s frustrated. Good. If he were happy or even okay with how things have gone for Denver then we’d be talking a bigger problem.

But Smith’s agent should be telling him to be quiet. First off, Denver is a good fit and may be willing to pay more than other teams for Smith’s services (whenever we have a free agent signing period after the lockout). Well, maybe they were willing. This didn’t endear Smith to the Nuggets, questioning his team’s passion in the middle of a playoff series.

That and what team GM just read those quotes and said, “that’s a guy I want in my locker room, a guy who throws the team under the bus when faced with adversity.”

Nuggets fans, sorry. But do you want some good news?

Arron Afflalo says he is good to go and will be back for Game 3. It’s a start. And you know he will bring defense and passion.

Video: Russell Westbrook on spin cycle against Denver defense

Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

Russell Westbrook slowed down some in Game 2 against Denver, he only had 21 points.

Still he was a pretty big part of the Thunder going up 2-0 in their first-round series and the Nuggets still do not have a real good option for slowing him down.

Especially when he can pretty much spin and slice his way through the entire Nuggets defense. As he did in Game 2.

Nuggets Martin not down with defensive plan on Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns

When was the last time you heard a player call out his own coach’s playoff defensive strategy?

Meet Kenyon Martin.

He watched Kevin Durant drop 41 on the Nuggets in Game 1 of the playoffs, hitting 13-of-22 shots and just dropping it in from everywhere on the court (he was 6-of-10 from the midrange and 3-of-6 from three). That after Durant had his way with the Nuggets a couple times near the end of the regular season.

Martin wants Durant to get the Kobe treatment, he told the Denver Post.

“Make him (pass it to) some one else. If you have him and (Russell) Westbrook on the court the same time, make Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka make plays. Run somebody at these guys. I don’t agree with (one-on-one) – we don’t let Kobe play one-on-one when we play him, no matter where he is on the court, so why would you let Kevin Durant play one-on-one.”

As Martin told The Denver Post on Sunday night, he believes that Denver’s small guards should not be the ones defending Durant.

“He shot right over Ray (Felton) like there was nobody guarding him,” Martin elaborated on Monday. “It doesn’t matter who you are, even if you’re the toughest defender in the world, (if you’re 6-1), he’s going to shoot right over him. You got to try something different, run somebody at him. Pick-and-roll? Jump on him. For three games, he’s been having his way with us – and I’m not comfortable with it.”

Kevin Durant has his way with a lot of people. The Nuggets, like most teams, don’t have a guy who can hang with a 6’10” player with good handles and quickness who can drain the three or post up.

But Martin is right — the Thunder’s offense is all about two guys and while Durant and Westbrook are going to get theirs no matter what, you want to make somebody else beat you. If James Harden goes off for 30+ and the Thunder win, you live with it. But try to keep it away from Durant.

However, Denver’s team style since the trade really hasn’t played like that. They may need to change it. They need to change something. While Denver made a real game of it Sunday, the fact is the Nuggets have played the Thunder three times in the last few weeks and lost every time. Three more times and their season is over. They have to do something, and slowing Durant is part of that.

Nuggets call out Thunder as “cocky,” Thunder confused

Oklahoma City Thunder Center Kendrick Perkins (5) And Denver Nuggets Center Nene (31) From Brazil Go Toe To Toe

Kevin Perkins was supposed to bring more than just defense and rebounding to Oklahoma City, he was supposed to bring some snarl.

Call it attitude or swagger or whatever you want, he was supposed to bring a little of that “it” championship teams have to the Thunder.

The Nuggets have a word for it — cocky. That’s what was reported in the Oklahoman.

Reserve point guard Raymond Felton on Monday went on the record with Denver reporters saying he hoped to draw the Thunder in the opening round. Felton, according to the Denver Post, said he felt like his team owed Oklahoma City because the Thunder was talking trash in the teams’ final two regular season meetings, both Thunder wins. Nuggets coach George Karl was even more candid. Karl was quoted as saying, “There’s no question there’s a cockiness to Oklahoma City.”

The Thunder have so far played the role of fresh-faced young up-and-comers everyone loves. In the locker room they joked around but were not a team that talked a lot of trash through the press. They were taken aback by the charge.

But Perkins didn’t exactly back down.

“We haven’t (done anything) but win basketball games,” Perkins said. “But if you feel that way, the only thing you can do is do something about it. If not then be quiet.”

Durant made a point to explain the difference between playing with fire versus poking fun at an opponent following the final buzzer. It suggested there was indeed some sort of in-game smack being tossed about.

“You can’t be too nice in this league,” Durant said. “I guess that’s what they’re referring to. But we don’t do any talking in the media. I make sure guys don’t do any of that. So I don’t see where they get those comments from.”

Denver against Oklahoma City was already going to be one of the better first-round matchups. A little bad blood makes it all the more interesting. And you can bet there will be some trash talking on the court now.