Archive for June 7th, 2012

Tim Duncan

The 36-year-old veteran of 15 seasons in silver and black faces a summer of big decisions. He will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, already having declared himself a Spur for life. With a left knee that requires wearing a brace even when he is not playing, he must decide if another summer or two of conditioning and healthy eating is something he wants to continue.

Decision-making will wait until Duncan and his family have had a chance to exhale after the compressed post-lockout season concluded in such disappointment.

The disappointment, he said, won’t factor into his decision.

“Not really,” he said. “Bottom line is the summer is going to come. The summer is going to be here, and it is what it is. I’ll figure it out when I come to it. I haven’t even thought about it, and I really don’t care. I’ll figure it out when it happens, just like everything else.”

For a while, though, Duncan will think about what happened in the final four games of the Thunder series, when a 2-0 lead became four straight losses and elimination.

– Reported by Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News

Deron Williams to Lakers not likely

deron williams

Will Lamar Odom join the Lakers? Probably not. What about Deron Williams? Ditto.

Lakers fans won’t want to hear it, but their off-season remodeling project remains as difficult as ever.

Williams, a likely free agent this summer and one of the NBA’s top point guards, was cognizant of the Lakers’ limited purchasing power. They have very little to spend on free agents because they are so far over the luxury-tax threshold. Their biggest tool is the $3-million “mini” mid-level exception.

“I know they don’t have any money to just go out and sign me. It’ll have to be some kind of [trade],” Williams said Wednesday at the E3 Expo, where he promoted the video game “NBA Baller Beats.”

Williams, 27, has a player option for $17.8 million next season with New Jersey. He averaged 21 points and 8.8 assists this season.

– Reported by Mike Bresnahan and Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times

Metta World Peace has some free time, and what better way to spend it than to go on television in Canada and do a weather report?

Young Kevin Durant keeps rising

kevin durant

The embrace was a symbolic gesture that represented so much more than a simple passing of the torch from a four-time NBA champion to a kid who might one day establish his own dynasty.

After he dribbled out the closing seconds of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s series-clinching Game 6 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, Kevin Durant lifted his hand and gave that quintessential, Michael-Jordan-like celebratory fist-pump. Tim Duncan tracked down Durant, whispered some encouraging words into his ear and let Durant go, understanding that his last-best shot an NBA championship had been snatched away by an unassuming but lethal superstar cut from a similar cloth.

“He told me congrats and good luck. I respect Tim Duncan and the whole organization so much,” Durant said after scoring 34 points to lead the Thunder into the NBA Finals for the first time since the franchise bolted Seattle four years ago. “They do things the right way. They play the game the right way. They’re a family.”

Durant wants to establish a similar situation in Oklahoma City. And, the reason that the Thunder has been able to copy the Spurs’ model for small-market success so well was because it has a general manager in Sam Presti who learned the San Antonio way during an earlier apprenticeship and a star in Durant who – like Duncan – isn’t attracted to the bright and shiny things that a bigger market theoretically can provide.

– Reported by Michael Lee of the Washington Post (Blog)

joel anthony

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra explained the reasoning for centers Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf not playing in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.

Spoelstra said Anthony sat for “situational” reasons while Turiaf is nursing a strained right groin. Turiaf’s status is day-to-day.

Anthony may not play again in Thursday’s must-win Game 6 in Boston, with Chris Bosh back in the lineup.

If Bosh does start at center in Game 6, it would make him the Heat’s fourth different starting center in as many games.

– Reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The attempt to draw an offensive foul has become such a common play that it’s a reason Spurs coaches are so persistent in teaching their players how to shoot the floater. They like the technique because it creates a way to score in the no-man’s-land of the paint, about five to eight feet from the basket, but they also like it because it better protects the players from the way the game is played now.

“We honestly don’t know,” said one Spurs assistant earlier in the playoffs, “what to tell our players.”

They aren’t sure anymore what is charging and what is blocking. Refs have too much to analyze in a quick moment, and they tend to look first to make sure the defender’s feet are outside the half circle. To determine that, they often miss the basics — such as whether the defender is getting under the driver while he’s in the air.

– Reported by Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News

Thunder show maturity in beating Spurs

james harden

The Thunder’s age or relative inexperience is no longer an issue. Immature squads don’t come back from 18-point deficits against teams like the San Antonio Spurs.

Oklahoma City did just that Wednesday night, staving off what appeared to be a certain Game 7 back in San Antonio with a rousing second half. Led by future MVP Kevin Durant, the Thunder punched their ticket to the NBA Finals by eliminating the Spurs 107-99 in Game 6.

“I just think we believed from when we went down and got into halftime, guys came together and said we can come out with this win,” Russell Westbrook said. “I think coming out of the half we did a great job defensively picking up our intensity, being a little more aggressive, and that’s Thunder basketball, and that’s what got us the win.”

Oklahoma City also rallied from a 2-0 series deficit with four straight wins against the top-seeded team in the Western Conference. Boston or Miami is up next for the Thunder.

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

kevin durant

For all the points, rebounds and assists that filled Kevin Durant’s impressive stat line, it was a defensive play he made that fired up his coach and teammates.

”That’s his first charge of the year,” Russell Westbrook interjected when Durant was asked about drawing an offensive foul against Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma City’s 107-99 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night.

Indeed, it was.

The league’s three-time scoring champion had 34 points and 14 rebounds while playing all of regulation for the first time all season, leading the Thunder into the NBA finals. But it was taking that charge that got his team pumped up.

Durant stepped in front of Ginobili’s drive during a 3 1/2-minute scoreless stretch by San Antonio that allowed Oklahoma City to take the lead for good…

russell westbrook

Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who trailed by 18 in the first half and erased a 15-point halftime deficit.

The Thunder took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter, getting nine of their first 13 points on free throws as the fouls started to pile up for San Antonio - six on the defensive end and three on the offensive end in the first 7 minutes…

Tony Parker finished with 29 points and 12 assists, but only eight of the points and two assists came after San Antonio took a 63-48 halftime lead. Duncan chipped in 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Stephen Jackson hit six 3-pointers and scored 23 points.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

In the first round, Oklahoma City swept the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. In the semifinals, the Thunder knocked out league royalty, the Los Angeles Lakers, in five games. And Wednesday’s win over the Spurs was as fine of a finish as we’ve seen.

The Thunder came back from an 18-point first half deficit and outscored the Spurs 59-36 in the second half to earn its first Finals appearance.

“As sad and disappointed as we are, you really have to think about it almost like a Hollywood script for OKC in a sense,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

“They went through Dallas, last year’s NBA champion, then they went through the Lakers, then they went through us. Those three teams represent 10 of the last 13 championships, and now they’re going to go to The Finals and play either Boston or Miami, and that’ll be 11 of the last 13 championships.”

– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman

tony parker

Tony Parker was whizzing en route to 21 points and 10 assists in the first half, Stephen Jackson was doing unspeakable things to pressure, hitting 4 of 4 from 3-point range, and the Spurs were playing with the energy of a team unprepared for the ride to end.

For the Spurs, who became the first team in NBA history to win its first 10 playoff games and not make the Finals, the first half was a final gasp.

After his hot start, Parker finished with 29 points and 12 assists. Duncan went out hard with 25 points and 14 rebounds. The pressure-loving Jackson ended with 23 points and made 6 of 7 on 3-pointers.

An 11-2 run to start the second half got the Thunder back in the game, igniting a 32-18 quarter that doomed the Spurs.

“We changed our body language, our spirit (after halftime),” Brooks said. “We weren’t going to win the game playing the same way.”

– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News

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