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. Report: LaMarcus Aldridge ‘leaning toward’ signing with Lakers

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:45 PM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Aldridge is expected to leave Portland, and the most recent report has the Lakers as the frontrunners to retain his services.

  2. Report: Kobe Bryant called DeAndre Jordan to recruit him to Lakers

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    kobe

    Clippers remain frontrunners to retain Jordan’s services; Lakers, Mavericks also in the mix.

  3. Report: Pero Antic leaving NBA to play overseas

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    Pero Antic AP

    Antic was with the Hawks the last two seasons.

  4. Report: Chicago Bulls give Jimmy Butler max qualifying offer

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:50 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    The bottom line is this: Butler is going to be a Bull next season.

  5. Suns coach Hornacek tries to quell Bledsoe trade rumors

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT

    Eric Bledsoe, Jeff Hornacek, Goran Dragic

    The first rule of trading a player is to not look like you want to trade that player.

  6. LaMarcus Aldridge to meet with Raptors? That’s the report.

    Jun 29, 2015, 5:20 PM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat Getty Images

    Kind of hard to picture him going to the Raptors considering the other options on the table.

  7. Report: Dwyane Wade will not opt-in with Heat, to become free agent (as expected)

    Jun 29, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Miami Heat Getty Images

    The real question for Wade and his effort to leverage the Heat: Who is going to give him more money than Miami?

  8. Report: Knicks front runner to land Arron Afflalo (and Greg Monroe, too)

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    The report says $12 million a year for Afflalo, that price seems steep.

  9. Report: Teams around league expect Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young to re-sign with Nets

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:18 PM EDT

    Brook Lopez Brook Lopez

    They are trying to keep those two while dealing Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

  10. Report: Sacramento Kings may be interested in Eric Bledsoe trade

    Jun 29, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    Expect the Bledsoe drama to play out through the summer. Again.

  11. Report: Luol Deng surprises Miami, opts in for 2015-16 season

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Media Day Getty Images

    He has more leverage this way, can get a longer deal.

  12. Report: Lakers, Clippers, Spurs, Bulls, Knicks all interested in Caron Butler

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:24 PM EDT

    Caron Butler AP

    Doesn’t Butler strike you as the kind of veteran the Spurs bring in and he’s rejuvenated?

  13. Report: Sense around league is Kevin Love will re-sign with Cavaliers

    Jun 29, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four Getty Images

    The question is only what length of contract Love will sign.

  14. Greg Monroe on move out of Detroit: “I don’t want to be anywhere I’m not wanted”

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    Stan Van Gundy’s offense doesn’t really fit two traditional bigs.

  15. Report: Nets, Grizzlies discussed trade to send Joe Johnson to Memphis, but deal fell apart

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:37 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets

    There is interest in Joe Johnson out there, but his $24.9 million salary limits it.

  16. Report: Wizards would love to trade Nene, but there isn’t much interest around league

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    The Wizards would like to find a stretch four this summer then play Nene more as a backup to Gortat.

  17. Knicks, Celtics, Trail Blazers, Raptors, Pelicans all reportedly interested in Al-Faroqu Aminu

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Al-Farouq Aminu, James Harden Al-Farouq Aminu, James Harden

    In the playoffs, Aminu averaged 11.2 points, and 7.2 rebounds a game, shot 63.3 percent from three and had a PER of 20.3.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (4135)
  2. D. Cousins (4021)
  3. L. James (3706)
  4. J. Embiid (3680)
  5. L. Aldridge (3617)
  1. K. Love (3406)
  2. K. Bryant (2977)
  3. K. Durant (2578)
  4. K. Towns (2421)
  5. N. Batum (2343)