FanPost

10. Just Short: The view from Oklahoma City

 

Timlogo-be_mediumSnips and clips from the Oklahoma City camp, plus:

  • Dave Niehaus (1935-2010)
  • Lockout Talk
  • Haiku Game Review
  • Fried Rice
  • Blazers/Thunder Recap
  • Popcorn Machine + TBJ

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(1)

Thunder Beat Blazers For The 2nd Time

by Casey Case, Thunderous Intentions (Fansided)

Another Blazers/Thunder game = another edge of your seat nailbiter.

Westbrook had an unbelievable game tonight. 12-22 from the field for 36 total points, his career high. Kevin Durant did great too, with 3 points, going 13-21 from the field.

Once the Thunder finally got hot and making their shots, they started playing some real winning basketball. * * *

 

(2)

Thunder Beats Portland Trail Blazers for Second Time in Eight Days

by Jeff Latzke (AP) in The Oklahoman

Russell Westbrook scored 36 points, Kevin Durant had eight of his 34 during Oklahoma City's decisive run in the final five minutes, and the Thunder beat Portland 110-108 Friday night for their second win over the Trail Blazers in eight days. * * *

Roy led the Blazers with 24 points and played 35 minutes just three days after he created a stir in Portland by getting a heat wrap on the same right knee that needed arthroscopic surgery to fix a meniscus tear leading up to the playoffs last season.

Batum added a season-high 21 points, Andre Miller had 19 points and 10 assists, and Fernandez scored 15 off the bench in another down-to-the-wire thriller between the divisional rivals.

The Thunder came back from a 13-point deficit to win in overtime at Portland a week earlier. If this trend continues, that Portland-Seattle rivalry could be reborn long distance. * * *

 

(3)

No Ultra Small Ball

posted by Slick Watts to RealGM Thunder message board

Harden was playing pretty well he should have played more.

Brooks needs to 100% STAY AWAY from the ultra small ball. Two games in a row we gave up big points with that lineup on the court.

Westbrook is playing out of his mind. We really need to get the defense back together because the way Russ is playing we will be a dangerous team.

 

(4)

Thunder on Fire at Free-Throw Line

by John Rohde, The Oklahoman

There is no better free-throw shooting team in the NBA than the Thunder right now. Or ever, for that matter.

Heading into today's 8:30 p.m. contest against Portland inside Oklahoma City Arena, the Thunder is shooting 87.3 percent from the free-throw line, which easily leads the league.

That is a monumental 4.1 percent higher than the NBA season record of 83.2 percent by the Boston Celtics in 1989-90.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said it is unrealistic to expect his team to stay at such a lofty percentage, but he does expect a level of excellence to continue. * * *

 

(5)

The Thunder Slips Past the Blazers Again, This Time 110-108

by Royce Young, Daily Thunder (TrueHoop)

Some people out there are calling for a Blazers-Thunder playoff series. I vote no on that. I think it's very likely I'd die mid-way through Game 3.

I don't know what it is when these teams hook up, but so far, we've seen two absolute classics. And they were pretty darn similar games too. In Portland, the Thunder played fairly atrocious defense for about 42 minutes, then locked in. And it was more of the same Friday night in Oklahoma City.

The Blazers shot 63 percent in and scored 65 points in the first half. But the Thunder tightened the screws again and more importantly, Portland finally started missing some of those tough shots that were falling earlier. OKC held the Blazers to 43 in the second half, secured a number of critical stops late in the fourth and eventually pulled out a win after Rudy Fernandez's game-winning 3-pointer clanged off the iron. * * *

 

(6)

Thunder Rallies to Victory Behind Kevin Durant

by Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman

The cameras didn't catch it, and the microphones surely missed due to what had become mighty roar inside the Oklahoma City Arena.

But when Thunder forward Kevin Durant's fourth straight jumper of the final four minutes splashed through the net, he bellowed four words to his teammates near the home team's bench.

"This is my house," Durant shouted.

And boy did he protect it.

Durant's sharpshooting sparked a late rally to lift the Thunder to a 110-108 win over Portland on Friday night. It was a much-needed victory that helped the Thunder (5-3) continue to protect its home court, where it moved to 3-2 rather than falling to a disappointing 2-3.

"We needed this win," Durant said. * * *

 

(7)

Thunder 110, Blazers 108

by Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman Thunder Rumblings blog

* * *
Durant desperately needed a clutch performance like this. In the fourth quarters and overtime in the Thunder's first seven games, KD averaged just 5.4 points on just 12 of 36 (33.3 percent) shooting from the field. When I asked him about the difference tonight, he replied with a candid answer. "I got a little bit of rest at the start of the fourth," Durant said. "So I felt good coming in." Durant's minutes have become a bit of an issue to start the season. He entered tonight averaging a league-leading 42.3 minutes and recently admitted that he could have used more rest in Sunday's loss to Boston.

This was a big win for the Thunder. Sounds a little silly to say that on Nov. 12. But keep in mind that division winners automatically earn a top four seed and home-court advantage in the playoffs. And two early victories over a division heavyweight like Portland can come back into play at the end of the season. When the dust starts settling on conference standings, and tiebreakers and such may be needed to determine playoff seeding, we could look back on these first two games as being pivotal victories. * * *

 

 

The Bottom Line:

1. Another close game, Blazers, but we win again.

2. Hey, wanna trade us Greg Oden for Kevin Durant??? ................................ Psyche!


 

"That one will FLY AWAY!!!"

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Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster Dave Niehaus died of a heart attack at his home in Bellevue, Washington on Wednesday night, November 10, at the age of 75.

Niehaus was the lead play-by-play announcer of the Seattle Mariners ever since the team's establishment in 1977, continuing in that capacity through the end of the 2010 season. Niehaus's sonorous-yet-rugged voice was a finely tuned instrument, giving every indication it had been fastidiously maintained with carefully measured doses of bourbon and tobacco smoke.

As a broadcaster, Niehaus was a master of pace and dynamics. He was an absolute virtuoso working the pastoral game of baseball on the radio, arguably the greatest of broadcasting arts. Niehaus would typically start each Mariners game delivering the television call before moving over to radio in the 5th Inning so that he could work his vocal magic for the finale.

Niehaus was known for a number of colorful catch-phrases, ranging from his enthusiastic cry of "My, oh, my!" for exceptional plays to his dramatic declations that home run shots would "FLY AWAY!", and his nicknaming of grand slams as "Grand Salamis." The latter expression provided the title for an alternative fanzine and program which has been sold outside the Mariners' park for the last 15 years.

A native of Princeton, Indiana and graduate of Indiana University, Niehaus got his start in radio broadcasting as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for Armed Forces Radio. He later moved to New York City, where he called action of the Yankees, Knicks, and Rangers for AFR.

After leaving Armed Forces Radio, Niehaus returned to Los Angeles, where he worked as a broadcaster calling games for the California Angels and the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League. He also worked for UCLA, calling Bruins football and basketball from 1973 to 1976.

Upon learning of his death, former Mariner Right Fielder Jay Buhner remembered Niehaus as a sort of Johnny Appleseed of the microphone, nurturing fan support across the Pacific Northwest for the frequently struggling Seattle MLB franchise.

"In the late '80s, early' 90s," Buhner recalled, "there wasn't much of a product on the field but people tuned in to hear Dave. He'd rant and rave off the air, then BAM, be back on the air and be totally at peace calling the game. The booth was his home, and h e made you feel every pitch, every play. He could call a sunset."

Niehaus broadcast a total of 5,284 of the 5,385 games played by the Mariners through the end of the 2010 season.

Upon learning of his death, Niehaus's long-time broadcast partner, Rick Rizzs, declared: "He meant everything to Mariner baseball. Everything. He was not only the voice of the Mariners, he was the Mariners. He was the face of the franchise. When you turned on the radio, everything was right with the world when you heard Dave's voice."

For his career achievements, Niehaus was the 2008 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence and was inducted into the broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

 

*   *   *

 

Lockout Talk

Stern2_mediumThere is an 800 pound gorilla in my living room and I am going to see what he wants. 

Okay, so maybe it's not really a gorilla — it looks more like a highly-compensated New York lawyer guy with a taste for very expensive suits. And while he is a little pudgy, a little jowly, I actually doubt he tips the scales at 8 bills. Three hundred pounds, tops. Of course, that's still pretty frickin' portly for a guy that stands the height of your average jockey...

Let me start again: David Stern is in my living room and I am going to see what he wants.

There has been a great deal of noise made about the 2011 NBA season being locked out by the owners, who are said to have lost close to $400 Million last year and to be on a pace to lose an additional $350 Million in the current season.#

Draconian action must be taken, so it is said, to avert the economic collapse of the NBA. EVERYTHING is declared to be on the table — if by "everything" one means a few empty words about the contraction of a couple weak sister franchises (and the commensurate loss of player jobs) and the reduction of signed-and-binding contracts and benefits of NBA players by $ 800 Million to $1.3 Billion from their current level of $2.1 Billion per year.#

One minor detail: the only evidence that the NBA teeters on the edge of the black chasm of destruction are the unsubstantiated words of the chief negotiator for the clique of billionaire franchise owners, David Stern.

Is it really?

Head of the NBA Players Association, Billy Hunter, doesn't seem to think so. This past July Hunter declared that the owners' tale of poverty "just doesn't hold water."

"There might not be any losses at all," Hunter continued. "It depends on what accounting procedure is used. If you decide you don't count interest and depreciation, you already lop off 250 of the 370 million dollars, and everything else was predicated upon what they were projecting, which was a decline in attendance that didn't happen. Attendance was the second-highest ever."¥

So the NBA is either on the brink of financial annihilation and must shut itself down to renegotiate the universe with the players' union, or it is not in any serious trouble at all and is posturing for profit.

Hmmmm, somebody is wrong. So who is blowing smoke?

About a week ago sports columnist Allen Kim published a fascinating piece for Bleacher Report entitled, "Has David Stern Been Using Funny Math in Projecting Losses?"

After studying the situation, Kim came to the conclusion, which he stated in no uncertain terms, that "all signs point to exaggerated and false claims by Commissioner Stern" as to the NBA's financial travails.*

Kim made the following observations to bolster his belief that Stern's case was largely specious:

1. NBA Franchise Values Continue to Escalate.

If the NBA was truly bleeding money as fast as a BP deep sea drilling hole, the market would reflect this reality through declining franchise values. But instead of crashing, the value of NBA teams continues to skyrocket. Market data has been generated through the recent sale of two NBA teams — the Golden State Warriors ($450 Million for the franchise alone) and the Washington Wizards ($550 Million including Verison Center).* Neither of these are elite franchises, but rather no more than middle of the pack in terms of marketing possibilities and below average in terms of on-court performance.

If your typical NBA franchise is now worth nearly half a billion dollars, clearly the underlying fundamental economics of the league are not dire.

2. The NBA's Attendance and TV Viewership is Strong.

Kim cited a report in the Sports Business Journal that as of opening night the NBA exceeded $100 Million in revenues of full-season tickets, a record for the league which easily surpassed previous season sales. Taken as a whole, the NBA has already posted a gain of more than 50,000 new season ticket holders — a 40% increase. Furthermore, television — the place where the NBA makes the bulk of its money — remained stable and viewership strong, with ratings for last year's NBA Finals up 26% from the previous year, the highest level since 2004.*

Compare and contrast with the precipitously declining ratings of televised baseball and the negligible-and-stagnant viewership for hockey. Prospects for the NBA's next TV contracts are bright, not gloomy. The league's live and televised viewership situation is more analogous to that of the cash-cow NFL than to any other league.

3. The NBA Continues to Rack Up Lucrative Sponsorships.

Kim believes that a little recognized source of revenues for the NBA are a set of exclusive partnership deals with major corporations. Such industry giants as Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Kia Motors, Right Guard, and Cisco Systems have new agreements with the NBA, Kim notes, adding that while Southwest Airlines was lost as a sponsor, the massive banking company BBVA Group has been added, with a four-year deal is worth more than $100 million.*

Once again, the revenue stream is bountiful, indicative of prosperity rather than catastrophe.

4. NBA Owners Have Been Spending Money on Free Agents Like Drunken Sailors.

Pleas of poverty ring particularly hollow, in the view of Kim and others, in light of the recent spate of spending on free agent talent. Owners have simply not acted like they were losing the ranch in their pursuit of players like Joe Johnson (6 years/$124 Million), Tyrus Thomas (5 years/$40 Million), Brendan Haywood (6 years/$55 Million), Wesley Matthews (5 years/$33.4 million), Travis Outlaw (5 years/$35 million), Drew Gooden (5 years/$32 million), and so on and so forth, ad infinitum.*

Across the league, teams continue to spend AS MUCH AS THEY CAN. This is not the pattern of behavior one would expect from a crew facing the prospect of losing their socks, shirts, and undershorts to repo men. The league's financial woes, such as they are, must be viewed as akin to the health issues of a sedentary person with an affection for Cheetos. Get off the couch and start eating carrots, fatty!

All in all, Allen Kim's case is compelling. David Stern and the owners seem to be trying to bluster players into accepting substantial give-backs by threatening us all with the demolition of an entire season — seeking to gain long-term advantage against the players union and bushels of bucks.

Instead of attempting to correct what truly ails them, such as guaranteed contracts for the Eddie Currys of the NBA, Stern & Co. are chasing the big score: a p ercentage surrender across-the-board of the value of binding contracts willingly signed by the owners themselves.

That's a non-starter with the players, as it should be.

We'll just have to wait and see whether the NBA Players Association is willing to call the owners' bluff and whether Stern is willing to fold what seems pretty clearly to be a losing hand.

 

Footnotes:

# -  Mitch Lawrence, "Dark Cloud Looming Over NBA Season," Fox Sports.com, October 23, 2010.

¥ - Chris Sheridan, "Hunter: NBA Lockout is Possible," ESPN.com, July 15, 2010.

* - Allen Kim, "NBA Lockout Rumors: Has David Stern Been Using Funny Math in Projecting Losses?" Bleacher Report, November 5, 2010.


*   *   *

Timlogo-haiku_medium

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Blazers' mojo gone

Thunder are young, sexy, hot

Another close loss

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Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...

Friedrice_medium

OKC's Serge Ibaka hits a routine 18 footer...

"He pounds his chest in recognition of his doing something super."

 

Being a professional broadcaster requires energy-sustaining nutrition on the fly...

MB: "You thought that time out was going full, that's why you're filling your mouth with cookie and pop."

Rice: "I've got this one last bite of oatmeal-raisin."

MB: "That's hard for you to pass up, I know."

 

Rice has a low opinion of crowds outside of the Rose City...

Rice: "The only time they make noise here is when they have a noise meter on the scoreboard."

Rudy hits for three...

MB: "That will quiet the crowd!"

Rice: "Take that, noise meter! Go find some oil!"

 

Rice is an expert in coaching fashion...

"Scotty Brooks, I can remember when he didn't own a sport coat — now he's GQ."


Game 10.

Blazers 110 at Thunder 108.

November 12, 2010.

Blazers' record is now 6-4, Thunder are now 5-3.

1. Blazers came out flat, the Thunder hustled. Things turned a little when OKC turned into jump-shooting fools while the Blazers thought it might be fun to foul out the Thunder in three quarters by driving the lane. Portland finished on a 15-6 run, with 11 points scored by bench players. Blazers finished with a 6 point lead. Blazers 35, Thunder 29 after one quarter.

2. Portland played a little zone, which OKC broke with Russell Westbrook getting to the rack and drawing contact several times. OKC tried to run a full court press for a bit without much success. LMA demonstrated his gross inability to box out, giving Nenad Krstic a couple freebie put-backs at the rim. Both teams shot very well. PDX 65, OKC 61 at the half.

3. I wil never be able to express my true feelings about how lazy, crappy, and terrible the Blazers are when they're bad. No obscene emphatics allowed on the Bedge after all. Add about seven Fs here in your head. Lazy. Crappy. Slugglish. Sloppy. Blazers are congenitally incapable of boxing out in the paint and Joel can't get back soon enough. Andre Miller's game is an acquired taste that I'm acquiring. Blazers were fortunate to close on a 7-0 run and recapture a small lead. Portland 87, Oklahoma City 84 after three. Blazers were shooting 60% at this juncture.

4. OKC came out in the 4th Quarter colder than Mike Rice's Bombay-and-lime and the Blazers managed to open up a bit of a lead. Durant was on the bench catching air early in the quarter and OKC looked simply lost without him. The Thunder (playing without Forward Jeff Green) and the Blazers (without either Pryz or Oden) are quite evenly matched and the small Portland advantage atrophied by the quarter's midway point. Blazers were still shooting 58% but were up only 1, with OKC a mindblowing 21-for-22 from the FT line. 

In the last three minutes there seemed to be little doubt that Oklahoma City was going to win. For all his Kobesque perimeter gunning-and-clanging Durant is, after all, a superstar-in-training and he virtually single-handledly powered a 10-0 OKC run that put the home team in the position of advantage for the finale.

With 50.9 seconds on the clock, the Thunder took time, leading by just 1. Blazers doubled Durant, but the speedy Westbrook got by Matthews with comical ease and a simple lay up for a 3 point lead. Portland took time with 27.6 showing. Roy drove the lane and missed but gathered his rebound and put it in to again slice the margin to a single point.

With 17.6 Westbrook was fouled and went to the line. The 91% shooter calmly drained a pair to run his total to a career-high 36.

Portland took their final time out, needing to hit a trey to put the game into overtime. The ball came to Roy, who drove for a quick 2, drawing a whistle. Brandon hit a pair, cutting the lead to 1 again.

On the inbounds play, Durant was fouled with 12.3 seconds remaining on the clock, the Thunder up by just one point. Another 91% FT shooter, Durant hit his first, but the Blazers got the miss they were gambling for on the second shot. The Blazers speared the rebound.

With no time outs remaining, Andre drove the ball the length of the court, curling along the baseline right to left and drawing all five Thunder players towards him. As the opposition converged, Andre found a wide-open Rudy Fernandez in the left corner to shoot a wide open 3 for the potential game winner. Rudy was just short, however, with the ball hitting the rim with 3 seconds on the clock and bounding high. OKC garnered the rebound and that was ballgame. Final Score: Thunder 110, Blazers 108.

 

Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?

Popcornlogo_medium

And here's THE LINK for the Popcorn Machine Game Flow Summary. You have to click it to see it... Go ahead, give it a try!

Here's what I'm seeing...

A. These are fairly evenly matched teams at this juncture, with no lead greater than 9 points — which is just "three scores" in NFL parlance.

B. The game turned on the 10-0 OKC run in the 4th Quarter, of which 8 points were scored by Kevin Durant. It took 3 minutes and 19 seconds for the thing to turn from "Blazers probably gonna win" to "Blazers probably gonna lose."

C. The OKC starters outplayed the Portland starters; the Portland bench outplayed the OKC bench.

D. Even though it seemed like Brandon Roy was sitting down a lot during the game, he actually played just over 35 minutes — his self-proclaimed target for average nightly minutes.

E. Seventy of OKC's 110 points (64%) were scored by the two Big Guns for the Thunder — Russell Westbrook (36, career high) and Kevin Durant (34). Beating that team means stopping those guys.

F. LMA had just 10 points — and Jeff Green didn't play. Bad night for him on the offensive end. I also had a sneaking suspicion that he couldn't guard a box of strawberry PopTarts from a hungry Cub Scout last night...

G. Portland was one shot short of a win, so while it's frustrating to drop a second straight game to a divisional rival, it's best to remember that the result was essentially a coin flip. Once again, better stars triumphed over a better team on this night.

 

Good news? Portland is still 6-4.

Bad news? Portland has ZERO wins this season over teams with winning records. They have beat the Suns (4-4), Clippers (1-8), Knicks (3-6), Bucks (4-5), Raptors (2-7), and Pistons (2-6).

 

 

Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?

Tbjlogo_medium

TBJ won't have an episode up again until Monday... Here's the Friday television highlight show...

 

And here's Thursday's episode, in case you missed it...

The Basketball Jones is a NBA blog and video/audio podcast, written and recorded five times a week by J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, Jason Doyle and Matt Osten. Assume that there will be a couple Not Suitable For Work words used in any given episode.

 

BRIEF PROGRAMMING NOTE:

There are 2 or 3 Blazer games a year that come into conflict with my work schedule and which I end up missing. The next game, a back-to-back in New Orleans, represents the mother of all scheduling conflicts for me. I will try to put up a brief "Clips and Snips" column following the game, along with a link to Popcorn Machine and a place for the Monday TBJ link. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you hate my stuff) there probably won't be Rice quotes, a game review, or any original writing included, barring some sort of miraculous waiver of the League Pass blackout and a decision to defer sleeping until 4 in the morning. Life trumps Blazers for one evening... Never fear, this is just a temporary thing and I will be back with a full slather of blather following the November 16 game at Memphis.


Photo Credits: Dave Niehaus: Joe Brockert, Associated Press. David Stern: Skip Stewart, Associated Press. All images heavily edited in Photoshop by Tim Davenport.

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