Kevin Durant (6'9''-G/F-88, college: Texas) was just three minutes into his 10-minute session with reporters Wednesday when he grew a bit testy.
Of the first seven questions lobbed at him, Durant was forced to field five about the San Antonio Spurs.
And he didn't like it. Didn't like it one bit.
Once that fifth question came - a reasonable query about what he anticipates from the Spurs defensively against him - Durant tried to supply an answer but soon found himself swerving off scrpt.
'I'm just going to play my game', Durant started. 'I can't really think about how those guys are going to defend me. Theyre a tough defensive group. But every question is about how the Spurs are going to come and how the Spurs are going to play. But you got to ask me how were going to come at them. Were a tough team as well. We come out and play hard. We have a lot of weapons as well. I know theyre the No. 1 seed, theyre a tough group and they havent lost in a couple of months but I think that we bring another dimension to the table as well. And we can come out and compete.'
Durant has a point.
Most every question players and Thunder coach Scott Brooks faced Wednesday was about how they were going to stop the Spurs. Not once did anyone, including yours truly, inquire about how they Spurs would stop them.
Of course, theres a reason for that. As Durant said, the Spurs are a tough group. Theyre the No. 1 seed and the hottest team in basketball. And they just so happened to trounce the Thunder twice long before they got rolling in the final month of the regular season.
Wednesdays media session was nothing more than a microcosm of the basketball worlds widespread belief in the Spurs. Few will pick the Thunder to win this series. Oklahoma City, to many, just seems to be out-manned.
Still, the Thunders unwavering confidence was on full display Wednesday, with Durants brief retort representing his teams self-belief.
Durant wanted questions about his team, so I asked about his team.
What makes you confident, I asked, against the Spurs? Where do you feel like you have the advantage?
I just think we play hard, Durant said. Were athletic. I didnt say we were going to come out and dominate those guys. But I said that we can compete, of course. We can move the ball. I think cutting down on turnovers has been great for us these last couple of series. Also, just getting out and getting stops and trying to get easy points.
All good answers.
But none are quite good enough to keep the Thunder from walking into the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night in San Antonio as the underdog. Must be a rude awakening for Durant. In the span of three weeks hes seen his team transform from the darlings of the postseason and a heavy favorite in its prior two series to second fiddle. Its as if he senses that few outside of Oklahoma believe the Thunder can win.
Before walking over to local reporters, Durant had just finished a sit-down interview with TNT, which sent bulldog sideline reporter Craig Sager to town as part of its coverage team. No telling what was asked in that closed-door meeting. But theres a good chance Sager stuck a mic on Durant and inquired about everything from the Spurs regular season series win over the Thunder to San Antonios history of excellence.
Maybe thats what the Thunder needs going into this West final: a chip, an edge, a supply of just a little more motivation.
And maybe all of it might stem from mounting skeptics now gushing over the Spurs.
Westbrook scores 41 in triple-double as Thunder top Pelicans - 57 minutes ago
follow us on
Russell Westbrook (6'3''-PG-88, college: UCLA) blew past Steven Adams' pick and saw 6-foot-11, 270-pound DeMarcus Cousins (6'11''-C/F-90, college: Kentucky) slide over to block his path to the rim. Westbrook didn't care. Oklahoma City's 6-3 point guard leaped up and uncorked a devastating right-handed jam over the new member of the New Orleans Pelicans. It drew Cousins' sixth foul with 2:38 to go, and the Thunder led the rest of the way. Westbrook scored 41 points in his 29th triple-doubl... [read more]
Russell Westbrook (6'3''-PG-88, college: UCLA) blew past Steven Adams' pick and saw 6-foot-11, 270-pound DeMarcus Cousins (6'11''-C/F-90, college: Kentucky) slide over to block his path to the rim. Westbrook didn't care. Oklahoma City's 6-3 point guard leaped up and uncorked a devastating right-handed jam over the new member of the New Orleans Pelicans. It drew Cousins' sixth foul with 2:38 to go, and the Thunder led the rest of the way. Westbrook scored 41 points in his 29th triple-double of the season to help his squad beat the Pelicans 118-110 on Sunday night. The fact that Cousins fouled out was secondary to Westbrook. "It don't matter how many fouls," Westbrook said. "It didn't matter. I just jumped, and it went in to finish it." Newly acquired Thunder forward Doug McDermott (6'8''-F-92, college: Creighton), unaccustomed to such feats, was stunned. "Man, it was crazy," he said. "I'm glad I'm on his side." Westbrook had a career-best 21 fourth-quarter points. He shot 7 for 19 from the field the first three quarters and was 7 for 10 in the fourth. "Throughout games, I've got to find a better way to pick my spots," he said. "Tonight was the fourth quarter. Some nights it may be early, some nights it may be late." Westbrook also had 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the 66th triple-double of his career. Enes Kanter (6'11''-C-92, college: Kentucky) had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Adams added 13 points and 10 boards for the Thunder, who won their third straight. Anthony Davis (6'10''-C-93, college: Kentucky) scored 38 points. Cousins had 31 points and 10 rebounds, but played just 22 minutes. "We put ourselves in position to win, and when you do that, you have to make plays down the stretch," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "We didn't, and they did." The Pelicans fell to 0-3 since acquiring Cousins in a trade with Sacramento. "It's a learning curve right now," Cousins said. "We're still getting to know one another. Just keep growing." Davis scored 24 points in the first quarter to help the Pelicans take a 35-32 lead. Cousins, who missed most of the first quarter with foul trouble, scored 14 in the second, and the game was tied at 59 at the break. Cousins picked up his fifth foul in the final minute of the third quarter, and the Thunder entered the fourth with an 87-84 lead. Westbrook's dunk over Cousins and the free throw put the Thunder up 110-106. Another slam by Westbrook in the final minute put the game away. Courtesy of: espn.com.au
Griffin scores 43, Clippers hold off Hornets 124-121 in OT - 55 minutes ago
follow us on
Since returning from knee surgery last month, a healthy Blake Griffin (6'10''-F-89, college: Oklahoma) has been on quite a tear. His performance Sunday night was the most impressive yet. Griffin scored a season-high 43 points and added 10 rebounds and five assists as the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Charlotte Hornets 124-121 in overtime. "He's played like he's on a mission," teammate J.J. Redick (6'4''-G-84, college: Duke) said. "I don't know what that mission is, but he's been domin... [read more]
Since returning from knee surgery last month, a healthy Blake Griffin (6'10''-F-89, college: Oklahoma) has been on quite a tear. His performance Sunday night was the most impressive yet. Griffin scored a season-high 43 points and added 10 rebounds and five assists as the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Charlotte Hornets 124-121 in overtime. "He's played like he's on a mission," teammate J.J. Redick (6'4''-G-84, college: Duke) said. "I don't know what that mission is, but he's been dominant. That's as good as I've seen him play." Redick scored 22 points for the Clippers, and center DeAndre Jordan added 20 points and 19 rebounds. Chris Paul (6'0''-PG-85, college: Wake Forest), in his second game back from a thumb injury, had 15 points, 17 assists, nine rebounds and no turnovers in 41 minutes. The Clippers needed every bit of that production because the Hornets got 34 points from Kemba Walker (6'1''-PG-90, college: Connecticut) and 31 from Nicolas Batum (6'8''-SF-88), who was 8 of 13 on 3-pointers. Charlotte overcame a 17-point deficit to force overtime. With his team down by five with 48.2 seconds left in regulation, Walker hit a 3 and then added two free throws with 11.9 seconds remaining to tie it. Paul missed a 15-foot fallaway at the buzzer. "We didn't give up," Batum said. "We made big plays, we made stops. We did some good things but at the end, one or two more good plays and we could have closed out the game." Charlotte was playing on back-to-back nights, having defeated the Kings in Sacramento on Saturday. Despite their effort, the undersized Hornets could not stop Griffin. "He's a monster," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "He's so skilled and smart, and he's the perfect player." The Hornets are without center Cody Zeller, and backup Frank Kaminsky (7'0''-F-93, college: Wisconsin) fouled out with 4:21 left in regulation. Just 15 seconds later, forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist also fouled out. "Charlotte is not a big, physical team and we were able to exploit that and take the ball inside with Blake," Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson said. Courtesy of: abcnews.com
Conley scores 31 as Grizzlies beat Nuggets 105-98 - 1 hour ago
follow us on
Mike Conley scored 31 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and the Memphis Grizzles held off the Denver Nuggets 105-98 on Sunday. Zach Randolph finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, which snapped a two-game skid. Marc Gasol chipped in 23 points and found his mark from long range by hitting three 3-pointers. The Grizzlies have now won four straight in Denver - an intriguing run, considering they're just 9-32 all-time in the Mile High City [read more]
Mike Conley scored 31 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and the Memphis Grizzles held off the Denver Nuggets 105-98 on Sunday. Zach Randolph finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, which snapped a two-game skid. Marc Gasol chipped in 23 points and found his mark from long range by hitting three 3-pointers. The Grizzlies have now won four straight in Denver - an intriguing run, considering they're just 9-32 all-time in the Mile High City. Danilo Gallinari had 24 points as Denver dropped to 0-12 this season when failing to reach the 100-point plateau. The Grizzlies outscored the Nuggets 21-13 in second-chance points and outrebounded them by a 49-39 margin. What's more, Memphis finished 22 of 25 from the free throw line. Before the game, Memphis coach David Fizdale talked about needing someone outside the usual cast to step up down the stretch. Once again, though, Conley raised his hand - and game. He gave the Grizzlies the lead for good on a pair of free throws with 7:54 remaining, the start of a 7-0 run that gave them some separation. Nikola Jokic was more assertive after back-to-back shaky performances. He finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Jokic has indicated he's feeling drained. Nuggets coach Michael Malone understands, but said everyone in the league is worn out this time of year. "The great players and the great teams find a way to fight through it and get their second wind and get ready for the postseason," said Malone, whose team is narrowly holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. "I hope that's what our guys can do." Courtesy of: ap.org
Copyright (c) 1998-2017 Eurobasket Inc. Disclaimer
Do not copy, redistribute, publish or otherwise exploit information that you download from the site !
Do not encumber, license, modify, publish, sell, transfer or transmit, or in any way exploit, any of the
content of the site, nor will you attempt to do so.