Monday Bolts – 1.31.11
Ben Golliver of CBS Sports on Durant’s comments: “Durant’s words mark another development in his career arc, as, up to this point, he’s been content with proving himself on the court and avoiding any major exchanges of words off the court. Here, though, Durant clearly felt that protocol had been violated. To go at Bosh in such a personal way — poking fun at his decision to team up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, to call into question Bosh’s toughness — shows an edge I can’t recall seeing out of Durant. I kind of like it.”
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “Speed in transition, high screens, curls and a hearty Westbrook-Durant two-man game pace the Thunder, but they’re capable of more creativity than they showed in the half court. And what’s happened on the other side of the floor? When assistant Ron Adams returned to Chicago, did he take the OKC defense with him?”
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com: “When Sunday began, the Heat and Thunder weren’t rivals and the current groupings of players had virtually no history together. By the time the heated contest was over, stars were firing unexpected trash talk, the Heat were considering whether their 108-103 victory was the best of the season and the two teams had staged an instant classic replete with the type of clutch play and physicality that is typically reserved for the playoffs. The emotions of it all poured out from an unlikely source, Kevin Durant, the low-key and usually reserved Thunder star who walked off the court barking at the newly returned Chris Bosh and added spice to what was a remarkably hard-fought game.”
Hot Hot Hoops feels like KD was “pouting” after the loss.
I really liked this description of OKC’s basketball experience from Joe Goodman of the Miami Herald: “Welcome to Oklahoma City Arena, a place like no other in the world of the hip-hop cool NBA. The Heat (32-14) makes its only appearance of the season in Oklahoma City at 1 p.m. Sunday. The nationally televised game will showcase this far-flung basketball outpost, an atmosphere unlike anything else on the NBA schedule.”
Matt Moore for PBT: “For a guy as vanilla as KD, that’s the equivalent of calling someone a dirty word. Durant himself has been described as super nice, even as this more competitive side starts to poke through more and more. Bosh has taken a considerable flak for not being “tough” inside, but he also did superb work against a weaker Thunder interior, with a combination of hook shots, inside layups off the cut and his preferred mid-range jumper. That Durant has words for him is pretty indicative of where Bosh’s reputation has landed. Still, if Durant didn’t have the fan-friendly reputation he has, you have to wonder if he would be slapped with a sore-loser comment. But because he’s Durant, and Bosh is, well, like a Bosh, this will probably only serve to make Durant more a hero to the people.”
Peter King of SI with a shoutout to Russ in the MMQB.
Marc Stein’s All-Star reserves: “I’m sure some voters are going to have Westbrook ahead of Williams on the West ladder given the leap made to elite status by the Thunder’s springy lead guard … and the way Utah has been sliding this month in spite of D-Will’s nightly damage. I can handle that.”
Chris Tomasson of Fanhouse snubs Westbrook: “It’s really tough to leave a guy off averaging 22.4 points and 8.4 assists for a first-place team. But he did tell FanHouse last week “it’s not a big deal” for him to make the All-Star Game and, “I don’t really care.” So we’ll assume he won’t be too torn up spending All-Star Weekend at a Caribbean island of his choosing.”
From ESPN Stats and Info: “With about 15 seconds left in the 4th quarter and the Thunder down 2 Sunday against the Heat, Kevin Durant missed a 7-foot jumper that would have tied the game. This is nothing new for Durant, who has missed 26 of 33 potential game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempts in the final 24 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime over the past 3 seasons. Not only are those 26 misses the most by any player in this situation in that span, but among the 10 NBA players who have at least 20 such FGA over the past 3 years, Durant also has the third-lowest FG pct at 21.2. Keep in mind that the league average FG pct in this situation is 30.7%.”
Eric Freeman of BDL on KD: “Could Durant’s reputation all be a sham? Is he actually a big meanie who picks fights with lizard-looking forwards and then talks smack about them to the press? Is up now down? Um, no, unless you bought into the hyperbole surrounding Durant’s nice guy image and forgot that he plays a sport in which all the best players are pathologically competitive. Like most All-NBA talents, KD plays to win, and he sometimes gets mad in the wake of a loss when he feels like he was treated improperly by another player. He’s a basketball player, not a saint, so this is basically par for the course.”