Jun 22, 2012, 1:40 AM EST
To a man, as they hugged the Larry O’Brien trophy, Miami Heat players said the sting of losing in the finals last year drove them to their win this year. They felt the pain, absorbed the lessons and got better.
As the clock was winding down and the party was winding up inside AmericanAirlines Arena Thursday night, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden stood together, huddled at the end of the bench talking. Saying exactly what Heat players said a year ago.
“We hugged each other and told each other to embrace this feeling and remember this feeling,” Westbrook said. “We’ve got to be the guys that just got to get better, man, before we can find a way to get back here.”
And everyone — including LeBron James, who said as much after the game — expect the Thunder will be back on this stage. And they will be better.
We’ve seen it before. For the past three years the Thunder have been eliminated by the eventual champion — first the Lakers, last year the Mavericks and this year the Heat. The previous two years the Thunder used those lessons to come back a smarter, more ready NBA team.
To a man after they were eliminated from the finals in Game 5 — a 121-106 Heat win — the Thunder players talked about what it will take to get back to here and be better next year.
“There’s things that wen have to work on,” coach Scott Brooks said. “I’ve never used age as an excuse. But we got some incredible experience these last three years of being the playoffs and it kind of – it has helped us get to this point and to compete at this level.”
The next step is on the defensive end for this team — they were a solid defensive team (OKC was ninth in the league in points allowed per possession) but the Heat won this series because they could find a level of defense the Thunder could not.
“But just one thing, (the Heat) played extremely physical basketball,” Brooks said. “They are a very athletic team and they use it every possession, and that’s something we will talk about. You have it, you better use it.”
There is also the focus that is needed.
“I think now we know that every possession in the finals matters. It counts,” James Harden said. “There were several possessions that we just gave away (in Game 5). I think that third quarter, we brought the lead out to five quick (it was 7), and then they hit two threes in a row. Every possession matters in the finals. We just gave too many away.”
They gave away a few all series. And that stung the Thunder. A lot. Thunder players all talked about being a family and you could see the tears and feel the emotion as they left the floor. You could see it as Kevin Durant talked to his mom. The key — the thing the Thunder’s three leaders were already talking about — was to use that as fuel.
“You just have a lot of regrets but the only thing you can do is get back to work,” Kendrick Perkins said. “And each individual has to think about it when you’re lifting weights, as you run suicides, just think about this feeling, think about this moment and how close we came. We just fell short.”
You get the sense this team will be back. And once again they will have learned a lesson. They will be better. And that could be scary good.
Dec 12, 2013, 2:21 AM EST
Our quick look around the association on a busy Wednesday night. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks. Stoudemire played 30 minutes. Stoudemire was clutch, hitting a key jumper with less than 3 minutes to go after the Bulls had stormed from 23 points back to tie the game. Stoudemire played good interior defense. Stoudemire showed a…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:02 AM EST
Dallas had a 10-point lead with 8 minutes left and still were up 6 with less than two minutes to go, but no lead is safe when Golden State is at home. No lead is safe against Stephen Curry Curry had a four-point play a minute before that allowed Golden State to get back from…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:34 AM EST
Very classy Boston. Doc Rivers returned to Boston Wednesday night as the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He’d been in Boston nine seasons and won a ring, but there was some question about how he would be received after a rocky split this summer between the sides. Wednesday night it was all love, there…
Dec 11, 2013, 11:33 PM EST
Tom Chambers, the popular former Suns star player and current broadcaster, has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, reports the Arizona Republic. Chambers has issued an apology to the Suns organization and its fans. The Arizona Republic has all the details, and they are not pretty. Chambers, 54, was pulled over about 9:45…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:28 PM EST
Jeff Van Gundy is a lead analyst for ESPN, and would normally have been the color commentator on the national broadcast of the Knicks-Bulls contest aired on ESPN Wednesday night. But due to a complicated set of circumstances, Van Gundy didn’t participate. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today has the details: ESPN executives and analyst Jeff…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:03 PM EST
Chris Paul finding DeAndre Jordan for an alley-oop slam should be simply another chapter in the ongoing Lob City saga that the Clippers players have no interest in embracing. But whether the end result is a dunk or something else entirely, it seems destined to end up on highlight reels nonetheless. Early on in the…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:46 PM EST
Carmelo Anthony has been with Jordan Brand for 10 years now, and as he explains in the video clip above, there’s a nod to the past within the design of his latest signature shoe, the Melo M10. From the official release: “If you see this shoe from afar, the chrome statement piece is the first…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:23 PM EST
We told you this was coming and now a real has been reached: D.J. Augustin is about to be a Chicago Bulls. Augustin cleared waivers on Wednesday and has reached a deal as a free agent with Chicago, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Augustin needs to pass a physical with the Bulls on Thursday.…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:55 PM EST
We told you already Justin Timberlake was in Indianapolis last night, sitting courtside to watch the Pacers beat the Heat then playing a little H-O-R-S-E with Paul George. As an in-arena promotion, the Pacers have a bit where Danny Granger sings a long with a song in his headphones — and he can’t sing —…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:43 PM EST
Omer Asik wants to get traded. He’s said that since this summer, but it hasn’t happened as Rockets GM Daryl Morey isn’t going to move until he thinks he has a good deal. That’s not fast enough for Asik, who made a move and changed agents to one known for helping guys get moved. So…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:37 PM EST
In the latest edition of PBT Extra, Kay Adams asks about the Pacers win over the Heat Tuesday — I don’t read much into any regular season meeting between these games. That said, I still stand by my pick of the Pacers to win the NBA title this year. Then we shift our focus to…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:12 PM EST
Dwight Howard improved after after the All-Star break last season – before All-Star break: 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game; after All-Star break: 18.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game – and the reason is no secret: His back got healthier. But that wasn’t the only factor. Howard told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com he…
Dec 11, 2013, 3:39 PM EST
The Charlotte Bobcats’ outlook is changing. When they signed Al Jefferson this summer, the theory was they would rather be pedestrianly bad rather than historically bad – even if that meant lower lottery odds. I argued Charlotte should go all-in to be totally bad for another season, and that pulling in itself in opposite directions…
Dec 11, 2013, 2:36 PM EST
The Warriors need big-man depth. Festus Ezeli has been out all season. Jermaine O’Neal and Draymond Green are banged up. Marreese Speights can’t gain Mark Jackson’s trust. Andre Iguodala is injured, too, and although he mostly plays on the wing, his absence the number of minutes he and Harrison Barnes can soak up as a…
Dec 11, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
From the frivolous lawsuit file here at PBT… A Clippers fan is suing he team for $5 million claiming they are spamming his phone with unwanted texts. TMZ got ahold of the lawsuit and has some details. The guy behind the lawsuit is Ari Friedman — who claims he went to a game at Staples…
Dec 11, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
In case you needed a good laugh today — Jason Kidd says he is reading the “reports” that reassigned assistant coach Lawrence Frank is writing. That’s what he told the New York Post. “I’ve been reading the reports [Frank is filing], and that’s as far as it’s going.” Riiiight. Now, if it the reports read…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:41 PM EST
That’s bloody brilliant. It’s my new favorite NBA Christmas video. The Bulls had kept the band together to make one more run at a title with Derrick Rose leading them, but when Rose went down that dream was dashed and it was time to talk retooling the roster. You can bet Luol Deng will be…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:08 PM EST
Boston fans felt jilted by Doc Rivers — they thought he would stay with them through the pain of rebuilding, instead he took off for the hot young thing in Los Angeles. Outside Boston few blamed him, in Boston fans felt dumped. Rivers kept saying it was mutual, Celtics fans were having none of it.…
Dec 11, 2013, 11:44 AM EST
.@Paul_George24 and @jtimberlake playing H-O-R-S-E now. Notice coach Vogel and Burke watching in the corner. http://t.co/fThtkA6AXb— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 11, 2013 If you watched the Pacers come-from-behind win over the Heat Tuesday night you probably saw the shots of Justin Timberlake in the crowd. Somehow he was able to swing court side seats, hope…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:49 AM EST
Kyrie Irving just hasn’t been himself this season — his shot has been off and with that the entire Cavaliers offense has been easier to defend. But nothing can help a guy out of a slump like facing the Knicks “defense.” Irving was able to get the rim but the key is he finished —…
- Wednesday night NBA grades: Amar’e Stoudemire played well? Yes. Yes he did. 2
- Report: D.J. Augustin reaches deal with Chicago Bulls 2
- PBT Extra: Talking Pacers win over Heat; Aldridge vs. Howard showdown 10
- Kidd says he is reading Frank’s “reports” as details of Nets coaching mess come public 13
- The Extra Pass: The league’s leading lineups; plus Tuesday’s recaps 9