Wednesday Bolts – 3.12.14
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com makes a compelling argument to shorten the season: “We haven’t even gotten to the miserable part of the season when all or most of the contending teams — not just the Spurs — start resting their key players for the playoffs. I’m all for coaches doing what’s best for their teams, but if the games aren’t important to them, why should they be important to us? At least one criticism of the NBA is well founded and accurate: the season is too long, and is often bereft of drama at the beginning and at the end. The league’s various stakeholders and mouthpieces will try to force-feed us the drama of an MVP battle between LeBron James and Kevin Durant, but that’s about all there is to write home about. I’d rather watch LeBron and Durant play one-on-one than sit through the Kings-Pistons game on Tuesday night — or any other night.”
Rob Dover of Red 94: “Until tonight, I felt like Beverley had been a bit misunderstood by the world at large. A tenacious defender who plays with a lot of effort, I thought, but not someone who plays mind games or behaves maliciously. However his actions in this game would seem to repudiate that. As Westbrook jogged up the court to call a timeout, Beverley attempted to stage a re-enactment of the famous play from last year’s playoffs on the same exact spot of the court. It was artless and crude – clearly not an attempt to actually go for the ball (since Westbrook was holding the ball in two hands with his back to Beverley), but trying to get Westbrook to lose his cool. Tempers flared, Patrick was (quite rightly) assessed a technical, and I was forced to reconsider my opinion of the man. To me, this was not an action that fit in with the framework of who I thought Beverley was.”
Jenni Carlson: “But it’s pretty clear this Westbrook-Beverley matchup will stay hot as long as the two are in the league. Even though it didn’t provide nearly as many fireworks in the second half — seemed fitting that Westbrook drew a foul on Beverley and hit three ensuing free throws to seal the Thunder victory with a minute and a half left — but the sparks from that matchup ignited other fires. Steven Adams got into it with James Harden. Harden got into it with Brooks. Francisco Garcia got into it with Durant. Add in lots of staredowns and the occasional f-bomb, not to mention a whopping 42 points from Durant, and it felt like June, not March at The Peake.”
More stuff on last night’s game for CBSSports.com.
Darnell Mayberry: “I sort of wish the situation presented itself again. I wanted to see if Beverley made a play on the ball (call it what you will) in that situation again or if he backed off. If he’s the type of player I believe him to be, Beverley would have done it again. And again, and again and again. And he’ll do it Thursday at Chicago against D.J. Augustin. And Sunday at Miami against Mario Chalmers. If so, you can’t crucify the guy in my eyes. That’s him trying to make a hustle play. But if he backed off, then you could feel free to call him a no-class piece of crap.”
Anthony Slater: “With 8:03 left in the game, Scott Brooks put Russell Westbrook in for Reggie Jackson. For the rest of the game, he didn’t make a sub. It left Brooks with a closing lineup of Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka, Fisher and Butler. His three big-money players and two of his most trusted veterans. Seems like a crunch-time lineup we may be seeing a ton in the future, especially in tense games where defense and trust likely trumps all in Brooks’ mind. And on Tuesday night, it was an effective five-man group. KD was hot, Westbrook was composed, Ibaka (12 pts, 16 rebs) was cleaning up the glass and Fisher and Butler provided steady defense and needed spacing, both hitting a big jumper down the stretch. The Thunder lead was 84-74 when the group started playing together. It was 106-98 at the finish. The job was done.”
Look at these visualizations of an NBA game.
Bill Simmons on Pat Beverley: “He’s like one of those old-school playoff hockey antagonists (think Claude Lemeiux back in the day, or Brad Marchand right now) who thrives on pissing off opposing players, coaches and fans, to the point that you keep waiting for someone to sucker punch him in the handshake line after the series ends. He’s going to be an unbelievably entertaining X factor for the playoffs. I love him to death. He’s single-handedly turning the Rockets into a tough team. And by the way? I would HATE playing against him. Wouldn’t you?”