Kevin Durant smiled and admitted he was motivated by criticism of his poor shooting earlier in the series, and Russell Westbrook basked in the glow of a remarkable triple-double, as the OKC Thunder advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs with a 120-109 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. the Thunder will open the NBA Western Conference Semifinals at home against the LA Clippers Monday night.
(This is an update of the post at 5:33 pm on Friday May 2)
Hopefully, the Thunder won’t see this as a reason to get too cocky, but boy… things just eased up a bit in the paint. Zach Randolph has been suspended by the league for game seven for his punch thrown at Steven Adams in game 6 in Memphis.
(Original Post Follows)
Game six in Memphis was the fog lifting for this season. The NBA’s most versatile roster budged, the pieces fell into place and OKC clicked for a twenty point win in Memphis, not an easy task for anyone.
Now it’s to a decisive game seven in this opening round series Saturday night, and across the board veterans we heard from after Friday’s practice in OKC not only said the right things, but let their guards down and SAID what we needed to hear.
Kendrick Perkins spoke about K-D reaching out to him after game 5 for advice. Perk and Caron Butler talked about the power of a team meeting prior to game six.
Butler spoke of his enthusiasm for being a member of a team with winning expectations, but also praised the professionalism of Thabo Sefolosha, the man he replaced in the starting lineup this week.
And the matchup? OKC finally answered as individuals and a coaching staff and Memphis simply wore down. The Griz played four of the best games in their history to take OKC to the wall. But all great teams answer, as do great players.
Play the percentages – and the Thunder will win game seven at home.
Clippers? Warriors? They have answers for those teams. As long as the players do their jobs from whistle to whistle Saturday night against Memphis.
Photo courtesy inside thunder
For more from today’s practice and Pregame analysis heading into game seven visit insidethunder.com
Here’s a pretty cool look from my buddy Jeremy at insidethunder.com showing a time lapse of Thunder fans filling Chesapeake Energy Arena last week.
Just go to this link or visit the above link to his blog. http://youtu.be/MibXsQR4M78
I do apologize for the “Rocky” reference, but this one really was like a brawl. Maybe I should have mentioned Holyfield or hey, Gerry Cooney. At times not pretty, but always on the edge of exploding into something like a BCS Bowl, defense ultimately made the difference in Missouri’s 41-31 win over Oklahoma State. It took more than four hours to play out, but it was worth it for football fans (except those of OSU) who are frothing at the bit in anticipation of next year’s NCAA football championship game which will be played at this same stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Be sure to listen to KOSU-FM on Monday morning for more reaction from OSU. Read more reaction from OSU and Missouri’s sites to get a feel for what it means for those schools.
No long description is needed of this one. For three-plus quarters the OKC Thunder was a very, very good basketball team and head and shoulders better than the Portland Trail Blazers. But in the 4th, the Blazers raised their level of play – and the Thunder stumbled, and Portland pulled out a 98-94 comeback win. Kevin Durant had 37 and 14 boards, but missed a shot he admitted he should have made that would have sent the game to overtime. OKC and Portland play at Chesapeake Arena January 21st. The Thunder and Blazers still have the two best records in the west (San Antonio is tied with Portland, a half game back of OKC for the best Western Conference mark.)
I say – listen to Scott Brooks and Kevin Durant – who manned up and took responsibility for the loss, which they did not go overboard in feeling sorry about. Mature attitudes – a mature team, who gave credit to a good Portland team they may see in the closing days of the post-season.