Skip to content

Scott Brooks lets Omer Asik steal the show from Kevin Durant and James Harden in Thunder’s Game 5 loss to Rockets

May 2, 2013, 1:50 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder's coach Brooks shouts at an official during their NBA Western Conference basketball playoff against Houston Rockets in Oklahoma

Kevin Durant has an attitude. Kevin McHale has a sense of humor. Scott Brooks has a job (for now). James Harden has an illness.

And we have a Game 6.

The Rockets beat the increasingly vulnerable-looking Thunder, 107-100, tonight. After taking a 3-0 series lead, Oklahoma City has lost two straight, but none more embarrassingly than tonight.

During the fourth quarter, Brooks – who coaches the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference – decided his team should intentionally foul Omer Asik of the eighth-seeded Rockets. The strategy was terrible in theory, and it went terribly.

Required to rhyme whenever a team intentionally fouls a specific player off the ball, I present my Asik Critique:

Asik Critique

In theory, using Asik’s regular-season free-throw percentage as a baseline, the Rockets’ offensive rating would be 112.4 on possessions ending in a pair of Asik free throws.

For reference, the Heat led the NBA this regulars season with an offensive rating of 110.3 and the Spurs are leading the league this postseason with an offensive rating of 111.0.

It’s also reasonable to expect the Thunder’s offense to suffer, considering free throws allow Houston’s defense to set and nearly negate any chance of an Oklahoma City fastbreak

In reality, the Thunder caught a break because Harden comically launched a half-court shot mistakenly before the Thunder fouled Asik. So, that gave Oklahoma City a big lift with a zero-point Houston possession.  But Asik shot better than expected, going 8-of-12 from the line when intentionally fouled.

So, that’s eight points in seven possessions – an offensive rating of 114.3.

Reminder: The Heat led the NBA this regulars season with an offensive rating of 110.3 and the Spurs are leading the league this postseason with an offensive rating of 111.0.

With Russell Westbrook out, the Thunder are psyched out, and nothing showed it more than this feeble strategy. At the same time, the Rockets are gaining confidence.

Late in the game, a frustrated Kevin Durant picked up a technical foul, and James Harden took the free throw. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

McHale told Asik to take it, but it was too late.

Oklahoma City’s bigger problems

Assuming Brooks learns from the Asik Critique (and assuming Brooks still has a job Friday), the Thunder can’t simply stop fouling Asik and win Game 6.

Kevin Martin, who shot 1-for-10, will take a lot of blame, and he deserves it.

But, when his team needed their best defensively, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins struggled.

Westbrook is a quality defender, and he’s missed. Durant has reserved his energy for running Oklahoma City’s offense, causing his defense to suffer.

As a result, the Rockets got to the rim with ease. But Ibaka and Perkins allowed them to finish once they got there.

On the other end, Durant took on point guard duties, but his teammates didn’t convert the open looks he created. Reggie Jackson didn’t really get going until the fourth quarter, when he scored 11 of his 20 points.

Harden had help defending the rim and scoring, mostly from Asik (21 points and 11 rebounds), but Francisco Garcia (5-for-12) and Patrick Beverly (2-for-5) shot well from beyond the arc for a team that bombed 35 3-pointers.

Harden vs. Durant

Harden, despite leaving the Rockets’ shootaround earlier in the day, made his first seven 3-pointers and finished with 31 points on 16 shots and eight rebounds.

Durant was even better. He had 36 points, seven rebounds and seven assists – but judging Durant by his total game misses a key element. Durant quit/wore down/tired of Brooks’ foolishness/insert your own narrative and went 0-for-5 and didn’t score in the fourth quarter. (Harden shot 1-for-5 in the period, but that will be ignored thanks to Brooks’ decision to foul Asik repeatedly.)

Foreshadowing occurred just before.

Harden, on a Rockets inbound from their own baseline with 35.9 seconds left in third quarter, walked the dog nearly to the Thunder 3-point line as Oklahoma City sagged back. Harden picked up the ball, took one dribble and nailed a 3-pointer (making him 6-for-6 on 3s in the game).

Durant answered with an isolation drive and floater for two points.

To complete the 2-for-1 Harden created, Aaron Brooks made a runner with a fraction of a second left.

Durant heaved an 81-footer that had obviously missed as the quarter ended.

Durant had to do it all for the Thunder tonight, and he couldn’t. Harden had a little help – some of it from Brooks – and that was just enough.

Latest Posts
  1. Thabo Sefolosha: Too soon to say when I’ll play again

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Thabo Sefolosha AP

    Hawks wing says his leg and ankle feel better

  2. 76ers sign Richaun Holmes

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:28 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers: Richaun Holmes Portrait Getty Images

    Philadelphia drafted Holmes in second round

  3. Matt Barnes ready to “foul the beep” out of DeAndre Jordan when Grizzlies, Clippers meet

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:33 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpthkoty3ytfmn2fjnjvlyjeyytc0mwvlngi0nwqyzmjh AP

    Barnes is a perfect fit in for the “grit and grind” style of the Grizzlies.

  4. Wesley Matthews says Trail Blazers never made him an offer, “I was pissed off”

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Portland not making a call means they knew Aldridge was gone and it was time to rebuild.

  5. Report: Rockets sign Chuck Hayes to one-year deal

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:55 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Getty Images

    The Rockets have nice depth up front.

  6. Anthony Davis excited to get running in Alvin Gentry’s offense

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four Getty Images

    The Pelicans were one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA last season, that’s about to change.

  7. Chris Kaman has new reality show, to air on Mark Cuban’s network

    Jul 29, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers

    “I think someone who would watch this would think there is something wrong with me and something wrong with my friends.” — Chris Kaman

  8. Report: Veteran point guard Andre Miller reaches one-year deal with Timberwolves

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:47 PM EDT

    Shabazz Napier, Andre Miller Shabazz Napier, Andre Miller

    Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are about to be finishing alley-oops from the best lob passer in the game.

  9. Warriors promote Luke Walton to lead assistant coach

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Kerr says Luke Walton is a future head coach in the NBA.

  10. Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey says expect more small ball from the Raptors this year

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards - Game Four Getty Images

    Toronto has shifted the roster to be more defensive, and be able to go smaller.

  11. Raptors hire Jerry Stackhouse as assistant coach

    Jul 29, 2015, 4:22 PM EDT

    Stackhouse drives against Carter Getty Images

    Rex Kalamian and Andy Greer also join Dwane Casey’s staff

  12. Jerry Colangelo: I think LeBron James wants to be part of Team USA

    Jul 29, 2015, 2:03 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwmxmdgxmdzhnmq1mwfkn2ewnwi0m2zkowvjzwnhmdmz AP

    Cavaliers star has avoided making a public decision

  13. Brazil’s automatic basketball bid for 2016 Olympics in jeopardy over money

    Jul 29, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT

    Tiago Splitter, Rudy Fernandez, Leandrinho Barbosa AP

    If Brazil qualifies through FIBA Americas Championship, that could close door for another North/South American team from qualifying

  14. Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant: ‘I could feel his hatred’

    Jul 29, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

    Lakers were in a bad place when Jackson first stepped away

  15. LeBron James Twitter Q&A: NFL career, Kobe Bryant’s best play, Ronda Rousey and more

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:13 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers

    Cavaliers star also addresses his favorites – including place to play, rapper, and teammates

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (2866)
  2. B. Haywood (2463)
  3. I. Thomas (2397)
  4. A. Randolph (1963)
  5. L. James (1889)