06. 5th Quarter Collapse: The view from Oklahoma City

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

  • Free Association
  • Haiku Game Review
  • Blazers/Thunder Recap
  • Popcorn Machine
  • The Basketball Jones x2



Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook lead the Oklahoma City Thunder over Portland

by Anne M. Peterson (AP) in The Oklahoman

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both had 28 points and 11 rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder rebounded from a loss the night before to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 107-106 in overtime on Thursday night. *  *  *

LaMarcus Aldridge led the shorthanded Trail Blazers with 22 points, while Brandon Roy had 19.

Roy missed two key jumpers at the end of regulation and the Blazers could never catch up after the Thunder pulled ahead in overtime. * * *

There was a contingent of fans who wore SuperSonics jerseys, including one still bitter about the Thunders' move from Seattle who hoisted a large sign reading: "Homeless." *  *  *



Nailbiter for Thunder in Portland!

by Casey Case, Thunderous Intentions (Fansided)

Who else was on the edge on their seat tonight?

The Thunder barely won tonight in overtime - 107-106.

We should be thankful for our man Serge Ibaka who made that nice rebound to put the ball in and tie the game at 100 with 10 seconds to go. Otherwise, I would be writing about a loss right now.

And seriously, I know I am beating a very dead horse here, but when will the Thunder start to make some shots? Now, I know it was better tonight - 49%. But, we were only 3-15 from the 3 point line. That's trouble. * * *



Great Game!

posted by Wiff to RealGM Thunder message board

* * *
What a great game. I think Ibaka came up big down the stretch by putting the clamps on Aldridge and hitting his free throws. But Aldridge is just way too long for Green to contain. But the big stud tonight is Russell Westbrook. That kid is amazing. He was all over the place willing this victory.

Even if the Thunder would have lost this game I would have felt better about this season because the Thunder showed some nice sign of improvement in this game. Harden finally came alive and Durant found his stroke too. But damn Westbrook put on a show.

I think Ibaka made a nice statement towards getting a start with this game. * * *

Click on through for more fine fare...


Massive Win

posted by Boobie Miles to RealGM Thunder message board

Massive win tonight. Great courage from the team to bounce back after last night's shocker.

Westbrook absolutely massive down the stretch. Durant looking more like himself, though didnt have too much success getting to the line as usual. Ibaka -- what a monster.



Thunder Snaps Two-Game Losing Streak with Win over Portland

by Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman

The buzz word immediately after the Oklahoma City Thunder's 15-point blowout Wednesday in Los Angeles, and just before Thursday night's shot at redemption at Portland, was trust. * * *

It took some time, but that mindset might have finally made its way back into the Thunder's makeup. Behind a dominant defensive effort in the final 29 minutes, the Thunder snatched a much-needed 107-106 overtime road victory against the Blazers. It's a win that snapped a two-game losing streak and could very well prove to be what Oklahoma City uses to straighten out its sluggish start.

"It's a big win," said guard James Harden, whose three-point play with 2:45 remaining in overtime broke a 100-all stalemate and gave the Thunder a lead it never relinquished.

"Suffering those last two losses by that amount of points, I don't think that's happened in a long time. Just to bounce back and get a great road win against a great team who was playing tremendous basketball definitely shows a lot about us."  * * *



OKC ThunderCast #49: Going Green or Green Going? (PODCAST)

Oklahoma City Thunder Podcast, Welcome to Loud City (SBN)

This 20 minute podcast was recorded prior to the Thunder's overtime victory over Portland and deals with the impending Jeff Green restricted free agency, naming rights to the OKC arena, and engages in some navel gazing about the team's apparent deficiencies after losses to the Jazz and Clippers.

Click the headline to get to the audio link



Somehow, Some Way, OKC Gets It Done in Portland, 107-106

by Patrick James, Daily Thunder (TrueHoop)

* * *
Oklahoma City battled a stagnant offense and mostly porous defense for much of its game Thursday in Portland but managed a disjointed 107-106 win over the Trail Blazers. Kevin Durant kinda-sorta broke out of his season-opening slump to finish with 28 points on 11-24 shooting and played all but 32 seconds of the game.

The Thunder resembled the largely unwatchable team we saw in a blowout losses to the Jazz at home and Clippers on the road this week for most of the second and third quarters. Oklahoma City squandered a seven point first-quarter lead and needed a 6-0 run to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, surviving its own mistakes and taking advantage of Portland's to keep the game close through the rest of regulation and force overtime.

The statistic that jumps out the most is assists: The Blazers finished with 27 to the Thunder's 12, only five of which came in the second half and overtime. * * *


The Bottom Line:

1. After losing two in a row, our guys needed this one.

2. Westbrook and Ibaka came up big, as they had to.

3. An excellent win against a very good Blazer team. The boys in blue stepped it up a notch.


*   *   *


Free Association.


Well, it's time to take a spin around the NBA to see what's brewing... I generally avert my eyes from the FanShots, so I'm sure much of this stuff will be old news to y'all, but I feel like a good rant today...


(1) "Head Coach Declares, 'This Team Lacks Leadership — Don't Blame Me!'"

It seems that the Detroit Pistons are Vegas oddsmakers' overwhelming 1:3 faves to be the first NBA franchise to go China Syndrome this season. Their dismal 0-4 start has been humiliating, accentuated by an embarrassing 4th Quarter collapse against the Chicago Bulls when a 21 point lead was flushed by a late 26-3 run.

Growling sounds are becoming audible outside locker room doors. On Wednesday, Pistons coach John Kuester publicly called out his players for a lack of internal team leadership, declaring, "We have to collectively someway or somehow find another voice besides my own that is going to lead us."

Not surprisingly, veteran Small Forward Tayshaun Prince took umbrage at his coach's buck-passing, noting that "he's right, but at the same time it goes both ways. We can sit here and continue to get on each other and be vocal, but like I said, the right thing has got to come from him as well as us... He says we got to be more vocal, he has to do some things better, too. Obviously, we're 0-4 so it ain't just the team." [via Detroit Free Press]

Prince is in a contract year, cashing checks totaling over $11.1 million this season, so his ability to lounge in a deck chair and second-guess the captain of the Titanic is limited. This may be a rare instance when an NBA star (using the term loosely to include scrawny 30 year old Small Forwards who have averaged under 13 ppg throughout their careers) is apt to lose a pushing match with the cannon-fodder 2nd Lieutenant running the team from the bench.

It remains a bit unclear what team would be, ummmmm, mentally challenged (to use the PC vernacular) enough to trade actual players and prizes to the Pistons for TPEC, however. Pushing a coach off the bridge is always the simple play. We'll see how things work out as this comedy show continues...


(2) "Maybe if We Pay Him More He'll Play Better..."

Wallaceandfriend_mediumIf Family Feud had a category "Retarded NBA GMs" (to use the un-PC vernacular) and 100 fans were polled for responses, Memphis Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace would be a safe, safe choice for Aunt Betty or Uncle Fred. You know there would be a bell instead of a buzzer and the Live Studio Audience would clap their hands and cheer at such an astute, albeit obvious guess.

Yes, we speak of the blockhead that has brought us such humor and mirth as last year's Allen Iverson signing (3 games, 37 points, $3.1 million), the mega-FAIL of drafting Hakeem Thabeet instead of Tyreke Evans, and the buffoonery of the previous year's dalliance with Darius Miles (37 games, 120 points, about $18 million of Paul Allen's dollars).

Well, fresh on the heels of his own contract extension (!!!), this real life fantasy league dunce has exceeded himself yet again with a 5 year $45 million extension of second tier Grizzly PG Mike Conley.

If a normal GM had paid this kind of money for so marginal a starting talent, the press would be noting a tidal shift of the market price for quick guys who put up 12 and 5 on a given night. But this is Chris Wallace here, people, so sports journalists across America have instead knowingly raced for the thesaurus in a quest for fresh adjectives for "comically excessive."

Matt Moore of said it best in his Tuesday article "Grizzlies Commit Franchise Suicide, Extend Conley":

"This, this right here, is not just the worst move in the history of the Grizzlies, but it is the shining golden cap on the mountain of terrible moves made by NBA owners over the past 2 years. It is this, exact move, that nullifies any argument the owners can possibly make that they spend their money responsibly inside the current CBA."

What makes this deal particularly hysterical is the fact that Memphis was bidding against themselves to protect the unstoppable Grizzly juggernaut from the possibility of fracture. Bear in mind the team had the right to match any contract offer tendered to Conley in Free Agency should a reasonable deal not have been forthcoming. Bear in mind also that the chances of a team ditching so much as their Mid Level Exception of around $6 million on Conley were about equal to the prospects of the perennially dysfunctional Grizz making it to the second round of the playoffs this year, which is to say: damned slight.

Wallace essentially paid about a 50% premium on the Worst Case Scenario — bold and innovative outside-the-box thinking sure to return him to his place on the short list for 2011 NBA Executive of the Year honors. /s

Now get me straight: Mike Conley is probably a swell guy. He's not incompetent. He can run a team. He can shoot a little. But this kind of coin for this kind of player more closely approximates a cash flush than a rational investment in a second contract of a young talent. Which is to say: Chris Wallace has done it again!


(3) "It's Better to Be a Cancer Patient Than a Lobotomy Survivor..."

Asshole_mediumMoving from everyone's favorite GM to everyone's favorite NBA Ambassador, it seems that Kevin Garnett doesn't like the hairstyle of Detroit Power Forward Charlie Villanueva or something, reportedly calling the Piston a "cancer patient."

Charlie V. has not been keen about KGAH's tongue, tweeting in response that the Boston bigmouth "talks a lot of crap" and has "prob[ably] never been in a fight."

"I would love to get in a ring with him, I will expose him," the Piston PF continued.

Villanueva's older brother Robert, who works as Charlie's manager, seconded the sentiment that KGAH went over the line with his comments about his brother, who suffers from a medical condition called alopecia areata and is the national spokesperson for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

"It was something that went beyond trash talking in yesterday's game," the older Villanueva op ined. "It's one thing to hear negative insulting comments from sports fans rooting against you, but to hear it from your peers, it's just complete stupidity."

The brave Boston jackass boldly released a lie in reply on Wednesday, calling his taunting "a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night." Visions of vanishing endorsement dollars dancing in his head, Garnett's written statement, released by Celtics Incorporated, claims:

"My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact, ‘You are cancerous to your team and our league.' I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball."

"Please, Please, Please Don't Cancel My Endorsement Deals," he may as well have added.

ESPN gobbled up KG's BS like it was a thanksgiving feast, which is just about as pathetic as KGAH's lame claim that he trash-talked an opponent with the line, "YOU ARE CANCEROUS TO YOUR TEAM AND OUR LEAGUE!!!" Completely frickin' ridiculous, but that's commercial journalism for you, well played ESPN, you incompetents... Pretty boys reading teleprompters with words written by pretty boys regurgitating press releases...

KGAH is, of course, a liar and full of crap up to his eyebrows — no offense intended to Charlie V.

I'm in for $500 for a ringside seat to watch Charlie Villanueva go ground-and-pound on KGAH's ugly face in the octagon — who's with me?


*   *   *








Ghost of Pritchard's Past

Golden Thunder player now

Wants to be like Mike





This was a TNT game, so Uncle Mike got a chance to go sing Karaoke instead of working this one. Good for him.


Analyst Reggie Miller is funny LOOKING, but it really doesn't translate into prose. ..

Game 6.

Thunder 107 at Blazers 106, Overtime.

November 4, 2010.

Blazers' record is now 4-2, Thunder 3-2.

1. Blazers once again looked out of sorts in the first period, spotting OKC a little lead and having to play catchup for 12 minutes straight. LMA went off a little, lighting it up for 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting and keeping the Blazers in the thing. OKC was blisteringly hot coming off their previous night's loss, shooting about 65% for the quarter. End of the 1st Q and it was OKC 29, Blazers 23.

2. Matthews and Roy actually got to the rim, getting the lead down to 1. The Thunder cooled off at long last and the Blazers, who had been playing uphill all night, finally captured the lead at the 9:18 mark when Marcus Camby finally got to the rack. The teams played back and forth, with Nico catching up the LMA hitting a bucket to make 14 for him. Blazers were good offensively in close — remember that OKC is just as crappy as Portland at defending the paint. At the Half: PDX 58, OKC 51, with Portland on a 20-8 run. Standing ovation!

Halftime observations: Chuck on OKC's problems: "They play defense like I did — they're out there faking it." Westbrook 16, Durant 15 — that leaves 20 points scored by the entire rest of the Thunder team. There may come a day when Oklahoma City is better than Portland, but this year ain't it... Which doesn't mean they can't steal one.

3. Blazers came out on fire, OKC were one-and-done with long jumpers, and it was a fast time out 64-51 on a backdoor dunk by Nico from Andre. Nic and Andre later ran a textbook 2-on-1 fast break at one point, something we Blazer fans went 2-1/2 seasons without seeing the good guys do... PDX showed energy on the boards but went cold while OKC found the range and got the lead down to 6. Brandon broke a string of 7 straight Blazer misses with a J and Portland held on to a 6 point lead at the end of 3: PDX 75, OKC 69. The final frame had arrived, but there was a bad vibe, somehow. Durant is a superstar-in-training and superstars scare me.

4. In the time it took me to scoop a dish of ice cream OKC had went on a 6 point run to tie it, forcing Nate to call a quick time out. Portland's ball movement sucked, while Durant able to get his shots off with no hand in his face. That's a nasty combination. The teams played back and forth throughout the quarter, but the Thunder had better looks, with OKC ramping up the defense more effectively than Portland. Nate finally sicced Nic on Durant late in the 4th Q, apparently hoping that a new defender would present new problems. Westbrook hit two bombs to slash Portland's lead to 98-97 with 1:10 showing on the clock.

Blazers attacked and were blocked, Ibaka attacked and drew a two shot foul, splitting a pair and leaving the game tied. With 18.4 seconds, OKC down two with the ball, Durant missed from the elbow but Blazers couldn't box out. Westbrook missed a tip and Ibaka made a tip, tying the game with 10.2 seconds remaining. Blazers took a TO to advance the ball to the front court. Brandon held the ball to run clock before bricking a contested 20 footer at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime. Portland 100, Oklahoma City 100 at the end of regulation.

OT. Overtime was a frickin' mess: Andre missed, Turn Around Jumper Guy missed, Andre missed again, Nic was capped by Durant. Fortunately, OKC didn't do anything either. Then Portland turned it over and Harden went coast to coast AND ONE. Nic airballed a 3 ball, OKC turned it over when Roy got in the passing lane with a deflection. Portland turned it over again. Durant missed but OKC came up with the rebound, Durant missed again. Miller drove the lane and couldn't finish and LMA fouled the OKC rebounder, fouling out. OKC ran clock before Westbrook bricked a bomb. Camby grabbed the board and Portland called time out. 103-100 OKC, with about 45 seconds remaining in OT. Roy drove and was fouled, 40.7 left. He hit a pair and the OKC lead was down to 1. 

Portland needed a stop. Westbrook ran clock, dishing. OKC missed but came up with the rebound in a wild scramble and Nic had to foul Durant with 13.7 showing. Durant hit a pair to make it 105-102. Portland took its final time out. Matthews drove the lane and was fouled but couldn't quite finish at the rim with 8.6 seconds remaining. Matthews made 1, missed the second, with Westbrook going sky for the board. Blazers fouled of necessity, Westbrook calmly drilled two and that was ballgame. Armon hit a trey at the horn, but that left the good guys one point short. Epic Fail. Final Score, Oklahoma City 107, Portland 106. Ugh.

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


Ya gotta click THIS-HERE LINK to see the swell graphs, that's the way these things work... Ready? Set??? GO!!!

Now here are a few observations about the Popcorn Machine material from me to you:

A. OKC controlled the 1st Quarter and Portland the 3rd. Unlike all their previous wins, Portland couldn't get it rolling down the stretch, choking away a 5 point lead at the end.

B. Nate played his tightest rotation of the year, only 8 guys, and it was starters playing virtually all of the 4th Q and overtime. 

C. Wesley Matthews had 13 points in just under 20 minutes, which begs the question why he wasn't in the game in overtime when the Blazers couldn't do diddly scoring the ball.

D. Nice scoring distribution for the Blazers, with 6 guys in double figures again, but it didn't accomplish Objective No. 1 — winning the sucker.

E. Kevin Durant played 52.5 minutes on the tail end of a back-to-back. Pretty impressive.

F. The game turned for OKC midway throught the 3rd Q when the barely competent stiff Center Nenad Krstic was planted on the pine. Going small actually improved OKC's defense dramatically, to my eyes.

G. Portland certainly had their chances, failing to capitalize on a healthy 3rd Quarter lead or to finish the game when it had a chance at the win at the end of regulation.

H. Two evenly-matched teams on this night, with the Blazers having better balance but the Thunder bigger stars.



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


Sorry for the delay on this... The TBJ guys were running late and I had to go to work. Here's the message they left on their Vimeo site:  Due to confusing copyright reasons, we can't show you our entire 22-minute television program from Thursday night. But what we can show you is this slap-chopped, jump-cuttin' remix that features a lil' Crossfire, some NBA player Halloween costumes, Tas' "Wanker of the Week" and more. Enjoy.

Here is 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.



Photo Credits: John Kuester: John Bazemore, AP. Chris Wallace: Lance Murphey, AP. Kevin Garnett: Jim Rogash, Getty Images.

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