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Thursday Bolts – 5.16.13

Thursday Bolts – 5.16.13

Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com: “In the grand scheme of things, Oklahoma City is in as good a position as any team that doesn’t play in South Beach. Westbrook and Durant are cornerstones that any team would kill for individually, and they have a nice collection of youth to develop. They have four first round picks in the next two drafts and a good track record for identifying cheap talent and developing it. The main objectives should be gauging how close players like Jones, Lamb and Liggins are to contributing on a regular basis and determining whether Jackson can learn to run an offense or if they need to acquire a true point guard to back up Westbrook.”

Brian Phillips of Grantland: “I live with his decisions because he has a pure heart. The terrible thing about losing is that it makes you sentimental. Winning makes you sentimental, too, but mostly because it fills you with an exaggerated love for the people who helped you along the way. Losing makes you want to defend the people you love who’ve disappointed you. But you can’t say that stuff, because to the people who don’t feel the loss the way you feel it, you’ll sound like a moron, or worse, a mystic. When you lose, I thought as I joined the crawl toward the on-ramp, and you want to hold on to the past that you’re afraid is about to slip away from you, you have to say the opposite of what you mean. What Brooks should have told the media was not “Kevin Durant is pure of heart”; it was “sports is the worst and it sucks and I hate it.”

Ben Golliver of SI.com: “This was a particularly cruel way for Durant’s season to end, considering his historic 50/40/90 shooting campaign. Durant’s 23.8 percent shooting from the field Wednesday marked his least efficient game of the season, eclipsing his previous worst: a four-for-13 effort back on February 20 against the Rockets. Of course, Wednesday was also the tenth consecutive playoff game in which he had played at least 42 minutes.

News: Russell Westbrook is important to the Thunder.

Darnell Mayberry: “The offense will take care of itself. That’s what we were told all season. In good times and bad. After both wins and losses. In sickness and in health. But it again struggled on the biggest stage, against one of the league’s best and brightest defenses. Westbrook or no Westbrook, the offense is a problem. Not in the regular season. But in the playoffs. Call it what you will: free-flowing, organized chaos or hero ball. It’s not a recipe for winning big.”

Zach Harper of CBSSports.com: “Sometimes, things just aren’t fair. It isn’t fair to the Oklahoma City Thunder and their fans that Russell Westbrook had a freak accident on the court that wasn’t his fault. It isn’t fair that Westbrook was forced to miss this entire series against the Memphis Grizzlies. It isn’t fair that Kevin Durant was forced to put a team on his back without any consistent help from his teammates against the second best defense in the NBA. None of that was fair to the Thunder and losing in five games seems like a horrible way to end what looked to be such a promising season.”

I wrote about KD and the sadness for CBSSports.com.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com: “It was about as good of a look as Durant had all night. He was in rhythm, he was open, and he was confident. But nothing much went well for the three-time scoring champion on this night. After carrying the Thunder throughout these playoffs following the season-ending knee injury to Russell Westbrook, Durant was finally spent. In all he missed 16 of the 21 shots he took Wednesday, turned the ball over seven times, and generally just didn’t have it. As his last shot went off to the right and clanked off the back of the rim, Durant shook his head and looked up to the heavens. There would be no answers for why the Thunder’s season had gone so wrong, so fast on this night. It was just over.”

SI.com’s Fortunate 50 has KD as the 12th highest earning athlete.

From Elias: “Kevin Durant shot just 5-for-21 from the field (24 percent) and committed seven turnovers in the Thunder’s series-ending loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Durant is the only player to commit at last seven turnovers and make less than 25 percent of his shots from the field on at last five attempts in a game in which his team was eliminated from the playoffs. (The NBA began tracking individual turnovers in 1977-78.)”

Seattle media morons flipped out of David Stern saying the words “Oklahoma City” yesterday.

Berry Tramel: “And it’s no shock that while Durant and the Thunder made the plays to win Game 1, the Grizzlies grew stronger, and the Thunder weaker, as the series wore on. Memphis won the final round of all four games in this slugfest. The Thunder clearly was gassed. Low on energy. Low on emotion. Low on magic. Low on everything, it seemed, except belief. Because this game looked over twice. Down 50-38 at halftime after perhaps the worst quarter in Thunder history, OKC trailed 60-46 midway through the third quarter. With no Westbrook, the fuel of this team, the Thunder looked not only merely dead but really most sincerely dead. But somehow, the Thunder found more fire, even with Durant missing shots at an alarming rate. He finished five of 21 from the field, made no 3-pointers, and obviously was frustrated the entire night.”

Tom Ziller of SB Nation: “Scott Brooks’ devotion to Perkins is, at this point, totally indefensible. It didn’t cost OKC this series — the two reasons above have more heft — but it’s still a glaring problem. Something in this situation needs to change before next season. If that means using amnesty on Perk, replacing him in the starting five or finding a coach who can better manage his frontcourt, so be it. But Perk was a consistent problem for OKC throughout the series.”

Jenni Carlson: “But Thunder fans, you can stop with the amnesty talk. The Thunder isn’t going to do that. Ain’t gonna happen. If the Thunder amnesties Perk, it would still have to pay his salary but would get nothing in return. That’s not a trade off this franchise is willing to make. Could it trade Perk? Perhaps. Though that might not be advisable. The 11 minutes that Perk was on the court in the first half Wednesday night, the Grizzlies scored only two second-chance points. The other 13 minutes? They scored seven second-chance points. Go figure. No doubt that Wednesday night was a tough end to a tough couple weeks for this team, but it’s no reason to think this bunch is broken. Yes, they broke down in the end, but they don’t need an offseason overhaul. If anything, this stretch might be a defining time for this franchise. It might build resolve and toughness that makes this team better in the end.”