Mar 3, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT
The Thunder and the Clippers are likely second round playoff opponents, should neither team be able to overtake the Spurs for the number one overall seed in the Western Conference. If it ends up happening, and if Sunday’s contest at Staples Center was any indication, we’d be in for a battle of epic proportions.
Oklahoma City led by as many as 19 points late in the third, before L.A. staged a furious comeback. Things were tight, physical, and chippy down the stretch, with a flagrant foul by Serge Ibaka on Blake Griffin — and its aftermath — among the deciding factors. In the end, the Thunder hung on for a thrilling 108-104 victory that snapped the Clippers’ four-game winning streak.
It was a sleepy first half for the Clippers, who started off slowly and trailed by as many as 16 points early. Chris Paul opened just 1-of-7 from the field, and the Thunder were getting whatever they wanted offensively.
It took some time, but Paul woke up, and sparked a 15-5 run to end the third by scoring nine points during that span to cut the Thunder lead to single digits.
The Clippers cut the lead to two with just over six minutes remaining, thanks to a 10-0 run that was sparked by a curious substitution from Thunder coach Scott Brooks. He sat Russell Westbrook in favor of Reggie Jackson, and Jackson missed a long three-pointer and committed a turnover to help fuel L.A.’s comeback.
The Thunder had the lead back up to seven, before consecutive corner threes from Matt Barnes had the game back within reach for the Clippers. And that’s when things went off the rails.
Ibaka and Griffin were engaged in a physical battle in the paint for the entire game, and Ibaka crossed the line with the Thunder leading by three and 1:52 remaining. With a downward chopping motion, Ibaka swung and landed a hit to Griffin’s groin with his right arm, resulting in an initial ruling of a flagrant foul one by the officials.
The referees reviewed the play, and the call stood. But the rule book defines what Ibaka did as a “punching foul,” which should come with it an automatic ejection. Ibaka was allowed to stay in the game, and he made two key plays down the stretch that sealed the win for his team.
Initially, the foul call benefited the Clippers, as they scored seven points on a single possession (the three from Barnes, the technical free throw, and another three from Jamal Crawford) to take a one-point lead.
But as Ibaka was allowed to stay in the game, he scored inside on an and-one play where he was fouled by Griffin with under a minute remaining. It was Griffin’s sixth foul, so he was done for the afternoon.
Then, Ibaka blocked a layup attempt from Matt Barnes with seven seconds remaining that would have cut the Thunder lead back down to two.
Big win for the Thunder, and a valiant effort by the Clippers to come back and compete after falling behind by so much so early.
We can only hope that the playoff bracket looks in April the way it does today, so we can see many more games between these two teams as early as the postseason’s second round.
May 21, 2013, 9:18 PM EDT
You need some luck if you’re going to build a winner through the lottery. Cleveland has gotten it’s share luck (since LeBron James left, anyway). For the second time in three years the Cleveland Cavaliers have got the balls to bounce their way and have won the NBA Draft lottery — and just like last time…
May 21, 2013, 8:08 PM EDT
While the defensive minded teams are left (not so coincidentally) and that has some fans missing the flavor of the day in the NBA playoffs (Curry?), there have been some good plays. So for a little fun, here are the top 10 dunks of the second round of the NBA playoffs as compiled by the…
May 21, 2013, 7:44 PM EDT
UPDATE 7:44 pm: Michael Jordan stepped on stage and made it official. Saying he wanted to “bring the buzz back” to Charlotte, he confirmed that the Bobcats will change their names to the Hornets. The goal is to have that in place by the start of the 2014-15 season (they will play one last season…
May 21, 2013, 6:54 PM EDT
And then there were four… With the NBA down to the final four in the conference finals, today Kay Adams and I talk about the Heat and the Pacers. The central matchup to me is Roy Hibbert and Chris Bosh — how much of a disruptive force can Hibbert be defensively if he is watching…
May 21, 2013, 5:28 PM EDT
Bryan Colangelo is still going to collect a paycheck from the Raptors. But he’s not going to have sway over the basketball side of the operations — and that’s what matters most to Raptors fans. Tim Leiweke, the new CEO of Raptors owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, confirmed previous reports Tuesday on a conference…
May 21, 2013, 4:51 PM EDT
SEASON RECORDS Indiana 49-33 (Third seed in East) Miami 66-16 (First seed in East) PLAYOFF RECORDS Indiana 8-4 (beat Atlanta 4-2 in the first round, New York 4-2 in the second) Miami: 8-1 (swept Milwaukee in first round 4-0, beat Chicago 4-1 in the second) SEASON SERIES Indiana won the regular season series 2-1 with…
May 21, 2013, 3:34 PM EDT
Phil Jackson was on the Dan Patrick show Tuesday — Jackson’s new book “11 Rings” is on sale as of today — and sat down for a long interview. I mean long — this is nearly 30 minutes, so you should only listen to this at work and not spend your valuable personal time on…
May 21, 2013, 3:07 PM EDT
Clippers owner Donald Sterling created a little stir when he was near the court watching Game 1 between the Spurs and Grizzlies Sunday — he didn’t bother to attend all of his own team’s playoff games, why was he suddenly at this one? Was he scouting potential coaches such as the Grizzlies Lionel Hollins or…
May 21, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT
We don’t need more people like Kevin Durant in basketball, we need more people like Kevin Durant on the planet. Kevin Durant has donated $1 million to Red Cross disaster relief efforts in the wake of a devastating tornado that ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City, leaving 24 dead and devastating the community. The…
May 21, 2013, 2:03 PM EDT
The NBA lottery is totally fixed, but in the interest of appeasing the NBA, we’re going to share the odds the league says each team has of receiving each pick. We will add that it’s been a long time since there was this little buzz around the NBA about the lottery — because nobody really…
May 21, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
A good coach always has his players’ backs in public. Even if he hasn’t coached them in a decade. Enter legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who like a lot of people in the great state of New York was watching Carmelo Antony lead the Knicks to eventual second round playoff elimination this year. You’ll remember…
May 21, 2013, 11:57 AM EDT
This isn’t about Grizzlies’ fans or Spurs’ fans. This is about every city having a few complete idiots. The Sherriff’s Office in Bexar County – which includes San Antonio — is investigating a death threat leveled at Tony Parker during the Spurs/Grizzlies Game 1 Sunday, reports NBC’s WOAI in the city. The Bexar County Sheriff’s…
May 21, 2013, 11:43 AM EDT
Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and… David West? What could go wrong? David West has been a rock-solid veteran big man for the Pacers this season and has talked repeatedly about how much he loved playing there this year. But the NBA is a business and West is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Teams are…
May 21, 2013, 11:11 AM EDT
Kobe Bryant thinks this Lakers roster can work. Well, he at least thinks his chance at a much-coveted sixth ring is more likely if the Lakers bring back two of the top big men in the game, as opposed to having just one and restructuring the lineup to be closer to what Mike D’Antoni prefers.…
May 21, 2013, 10:40 AM EDT
The NBA lottery is fixed. There’s no question about it. Just as last year’s draft order was determined by a David Stern-led conspiracy, this year’s will be determined the same way. Think about it. If the NBA lottery really were legitimate, why not conduct the draw publically rather than in a back room? If the…
May 21, 2013, 9:32 AM EDT
You can cross Stan Van Gundy off your coaching lists. The former Magic and Heat coach was on The David Baumann Show on 1080 The Team in Orlando and said he would not be coaching anywhere next season. He called it a family decision. He added that a few teams reached out to him but…
May 21, 2013, 9:03 AM EDT
Knicks GM Glen Grunwald wanted to sign Pablo Prigioni to a two-year deal, but the 35-year-old point guard and NBA rookie was only taking a one-year offer. That was practical — he signed for the veteran’s minimum and if he showed he belonged he could get a better deal. But it also may mean he…
May 21, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
Game 2 is not going to look like Game 1. Memphis is not going to get its doors blown off from the opening tip as happened in their Game 1 loss. You can expect better pick and roll defense out of Memphis. You can also expect better ball movement and more Zach Randolph. You can…
May 21, 2013, 2:02 AM EDT
From the start, there was one thing most likely to keep Mike D’Antoni from returning as Lakers coach — free agent Dwight Howard. It may not have been that direct — and it may not change who is the Lakers coach next season — but apparently Howard let Lakers management know exactly how he feels…
May 21, 2013, 1:19 AM EDT
We need a game in this series so we can talk about basketball and not this ridiculous game of telephone. As we explained before, LeBron James took umbrage at something a reporter told him Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel said — except Vogel never said it. What Vogel said was, “They’re the next team that’s in…
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