Wednesday Bolts – 5.30.12
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “Scott Brooks finally caught on as his team clawed back at the end of the third quarter, when be brought back Serge Ibaka. If the Thunder seemed like a quicker more active defensive team after that, it might be because they had their quicker, more active big man on the floor. At that point, the Thunder figured out some coverages that optimized their speed and athleticism. They switched pick-and-rolls when necessary, or let Ibaka corral when he had a good angle on Parker or Ginobili. When the Spurs hit shots for much of the fourth, those attempts were more likely to be outside looks generated out of desperation rather than the result of kickouts and penetration. So the Ibaka matter was resolved, but why Derek Fisher played the final 17 minutes of the game was mystifying, while Thabo Sefolosha played fewer than two of the final 18 minutes. Sometimes it’s too easy to critique a coach after the fact, but there was something dubious about Brooks’ decision to stay with Derek Fisher. At critical moments, don’t you have to ask yourself as a coach, “What are my goals?” and “Who among my personnel can help me achieve them?”
ESPN Stats and Info: “The Thunder used a small lineup consisting of just one big man — Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison or Nazr Mohammed — for just one minute in the first half before using such lineups predominantly (17 of 24 minutes) in the second half. The Thunder’s small lineups outscored the Spurs by 15, while the traditional two big man lineups were outscored by 24.”
Beckley Mason of TrueHoop with a docket on Scott Brooks: “Emotional leader. Brooks still has a ways to go as an X’s and O’s coach, but from his first day on the job, Brooks has had the right personality to coach this young Thunder team. He’s an unceasingly positive motivator who tends to soften his criticism of players with compliments about all the things they’re doing correctly. His players trust him and his history in the league. However, Brooks has yet to show much in the way of creativity and his teams rarely make dramatic in-game adjustments. He keeps things basic and trusts the talent on the floor to do the rest.”
John Rohde: “With his team trailing 82-66 and tired of what he considered to be one-sided officiating, Brooks barked in the face every referee he could find. Brooks got away with two heated confrontations without getting slapped with a technical foul. The third time was the charm as a ticked-off Brooks finally got teed up. The normally docile Brooks no doubt was hoping a technical might fire up his team.”
My CBSSports.com column saying no moral victories, just missed opportunities.
Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell: “I’m curious if it might be a good thing that the Spurs didn’t go on to blow out the Thunder in this game. Close game reps are an important thing and the Spurs didn’t seem all that pleased after this game ended, despite the win. They might need some anger or edge to start Game 3 considering OKC is likely to play with a dangerous combination of excitement and desperation back home.”
Darnell Mayberry: “If you’re like me, you walked away from Game 2 asking yourself how on earth do you stop the Spurs? Offensively, they’re a machine. They have a potent mix of pinpoint passing, low-post scoring, perimeter shooting and marvelous playmakers. Stay at home on shooters and they murder you in the paint. Sag off and supply too much help and they scorch you from outside. Shut down option one, two and three, and they just keep passing and passing until they get a quality shot. Show signs of sluggishness getting back and they burn you in transition. They make basic basketball look not just beautiful, but also unstoppable.”
J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “In many ways Game 2 was an optimal game for the Thunder. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks had plenty of good things to say about his team afterward. Their Big Three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden went off. They only turned the ball over 10 times. They made 47 percent of their 3-point shots. They grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. They extracted 36 free throws from a Spurs team that makes point of not fouling. And the Thunder never had a shot — as in one shot that could have tied the game or given them the lead during the final 35 ½ minutes of the game. The best they could do was cut a Spurs lead that was 22 points in the third quarter down to six points in the fourth.”
Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “If the Thunder’s short-term outlook is indeed as bleak as it suddenly looks, needing four wins in five tries against a team that hasn’t lost a single basketball game for almost 50 days, their rising exasperation in trying to keep up with these Spurs will eventually fade. If the Thunder can’t win the next two games at home to make this a series — after Durant and Westbrook combined with James Harden for 88 points that weren’t nearly enough in this 120-111 Game 2 defeat — they’ll realize with time that there’s no shame in getting shredded by the old masters.”
One of my beloved bosses at CBSSports.com passed away unexpectedly yesterday. Thinking of you, Craig. Here’s a wonderful tribute.