Tag: Scott Brooks

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook

Thunder learn one more painful lesson, talk about taking one more step


To a man, as they hugged the Larry O’Brien trophy, Miami Heat players said the sting of losing in the finals last year drove them to their win this year. They felt the pain, absorbed the lessons and got better.

As the clock was winding down and the party was winding up inside AmericanAirlines Arena Thursday night, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden stood together, huddled at the end of the bench talking. Saying exactly what Heat players said a year ago.

“We hugged each other and told each other to embrace this feeling and remember this feeling,” Westbrook said. “We’ve got to be the guys that just got to get better, man, before we can find a way to get back here.”

And everyone — including LeBron James, who said as much after the game — expect the Thunder will be back on this stage. And they will be better.

We’ve seen it before. For the past three years the Thunder have been eliminated by the eventual champion — first the Lakers, last year the Mavericks and this year the Heat. The previous two years the Thunder used those lessons to come back a smarter, more ready NBA team.

To a man after they were eliminated from the finals in Game 5 — a 121-106 Heat win — the Thunder players talked about what it will take to get back to here and be better next year.

“There’s things that wen have to work on,” coach Scott Brooks said. “I’ve never used age as an excuse. But we got some incredible experience these last three years of being the playoffs and it kind of – it has helped us get to this point and to compete at this level.”

The next step is on the defensive end for this team — they were a solid defensive team (OKC was ninth in the league in points allowed per possession) but the Heat won this series because they could find a level of defense the Thunder could not.

“But just one thing, (the Heat) played extremely physical basketball,” Brooks said. “They are a very athletic team and they use it every possession, and that’s something we will talk about. You have it, you better use it.”

There is also the focus that is needed.

“I think now we know that every possession in the finals matters. It counts,” James Harden said. “There were several possessions that we just gave away (in Game 5). I think that third quarter, we brought the lead out to five quick (it was 7), and then they hit two threes in a row. Every possession matters in the finals. We just gave too many away.”

They gave away a few all series. And that stung the Thunder. A lot. Thunder players all talked about being a family and you could see the tears and feel the emotion as they left the floor. You could see it as Kevin Durant talked to his mom. The key — the thing the Thunder’s three leaders were already talking about — was to use that as fuel.

“You just have a lot of regrets but the only thing you can do is get back to work,” Kendrick Perkins said. “And each individual has to think about it when you’re lifting weights, as you run suicides, just think about this feeling, think about this moment and how close we came. We just fell short.”

You get the sense this team will be back. And once again they will have learned a lesson. They will be better. And that could be scary good.

Miami Heat are your NBA champions, rout Thunder 121-106; LeBron MVP

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five

The King has his ring.

Finally playing like the team the rest of the league feared Miami Heat roared to an NBA title Thursday night. NBA finals LeBron James had a triple double in the biggest game of his career, Heat role players drained threes like they were layups, the Heat offense fired on all cylinders and was aggressive on defense — all of it eventually overwhelmed them blew out the Thunder out. It turned Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena into a 12-minute Championship party in the fourth quarter.

Miami won Game 5 121-106 and are now the NBA champions. LeBron James was named finals MVP.

It was the kind of game Heat fans envisioned and the rest of the league — including the Thunder — worried could happen when the Heat really clicked. Miami looked clear and away like the best team in the league.

“Today they were on fire…” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We couldn’t handle everything they threw at us.”

Miami smelled blood in the water early. They came out with a business-like focus from the opening tip — LeBron had his head down and was driving the lane from the start, setting guys up for threes on kick outs and dominating the game.

Miami had some great ball movement, shot 51.9 percent and were 14-26 from three on the night. They overwhelmed a good Thunder team that played hard but is still learning how to execute and win on this level. They will be back. Kevin Durant brought it and finished with 32 points and 11 boards, but as a team the Thunder shot just 41.4 percent (and that went up during the garbage time fourth quarter, they were under 40 percent most of the game).

Miami started to pull away in the second quarter but in the third the Thunder made one more push and got the lead down to 7. The Heat answered with a 19-1 run that blew the lid off the game. The did it because everyone pitched in. Mike Miller, who looked like he could barely walk this series, was 7-of-11, all of his makes from three, for 23 points. Bosh was fantastic with 24. Dwyane Wade had 20. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, pretty much everyone hit shots.

In the end LeBron and Wade were hugging on the sidelines, they are NBA champions. Together.

NBA finals Game 5: Heat look like team on mission, lead 59-49 at half

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five

There were long stretches in previous playoff rounds where the Heat just were not focused. Where they took games and quarters off. It cost them.

But after the first game of the NBA finals ended, the Heat have stepped up every game.

And in Game 5, with the chance to close out the Thunder and win the title, the Heat came out with their most focused half of the playoffs and are up 59-49 at the half.

Miami came out with a real energy, attacking on offense but the Thunder doubled a lot. So the Heat just kicked it out and were 4-8 from three in the first quarter (and 7-13 for the half). Miami shot 58 percent in the first quarter and 55 for the half, while the Thunder are at 36.6 percent.

LeBron James is putting his head down and attacking the basket and the result is 15 first half points on 9 shots.

Only Durant — 14 points on 14 shots — had brought his “A” game for the Thunder. Westbrook has 13 points but is 2-of-9 shooting. Bosh has 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and Wade also is 4-of-6. Even guys like Mike Miller were 4-6 and contributing in the first half.

Miami smells blood, the crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena is fired up and it feels like there is going to be a big party in Miami Thursday night. Well, they do that every night on South Beach, but this time they’ll have a good reason.

We’ll know in the first four minutes of the second half if the Thunder can make a push back.

Live Chat: NBA finals Game 5 — Thunder vs. Heat

Miami Heat's Wade goes up for basket past Oklahoma City Thunder's Westbrook and Perkins during Game 4 of NBA basketball finals in Miami

NBA finals pre-Game 5 notes: Harden’s hand and some coach speak

Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden durin

MIAMI — Some notes from inside the AmericanAirlines Arena before Game 5 between the Thunder and Heat:

• Thunder coach Scott Brooks said James Harden and his bruised left hand were “fine.”

“He bruised his left hand, but he’s not affected,” Brooks said. “That kid is as tough as anybody on our team. He understands that you play through everything. Everybody is banged up.”

Watching Harden on the court in warm-ups, his hand didn’t seem to be bothering him.

• When asked about LeBron James — who had to sit out the end of Game 4 with leg crams — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra joked:

“The players will be hydrated.”

• If you are the Miami Heat, it’s tempting to think about what might be and lose track of the job at hand. That’s the kind of thing that keeps Spoelstra up at night.

“Hey, we have a game to play, okay, and what we have to focus on is trying to win this game,” Spoelstra said Thursday night before tip-off. “And that’s the perspective we have to have.”

• If you’re the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s dangerous to look at the massive task ahead (no team has ever come from 3-1 down to win an NBA finals) and find it overwhelming. That’s the kind of thing that keeps Brooks up at night.

“I just tell the guys we’re not trying to win three games tonight,” Brooks said. “All we’re trying to do is play better for 48 minutes than the Miami Heat, and that’s very possible, and that’s all we’re focusing on.

• Tonight’s fan giveaway is a white towel with the Roman numerals XVI on them — that’s 16, the number of playoff wins it takes to get an NBA title. A number the Heat can reach Thursday.