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ESPN analysts: Thunder's lack of playoff experience hurt them in Game 3 loss

by Mel Bracht Published: May 22, 2011

ESPN's studio analysts said the Oklahoma City Thunder's lack of playoff experience hurt them in their Game 3 loss Saturday night.

“They looked like they were kind of tense,” Magic Johnson said of the Thunder's slow start. “They were not in rhythm offensively, and they played no defense.”

Michael Wilbon said he was not surprised by the Thunder's slow start, considering the team's youth, with two of its stars 21 years old and two others 22.

“I don't expect them to play with any savvy and they didn't,” Wilbon said.

Noting the strong play of Mavericks, who have much more playoff experience, Wilbon joked that Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion “together they are about 80 years old with about 400 games of playoff experience.”

Johnson also noted the improved play of Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter.

“He was attacking the rim every time he touched the ball,” Johnson said. “He was scoring at will.”

But Johnson said the Thunder lacked offensive balance. “They needed a third scorer. James Harden had only seven points as the Dallas defense contained him.”

Brooks frustrated

ESPN's cameras did a good job of capturing Thunder coach Scott Brooks' frustration at the end of the first quarter and at halftime.

After the first quarter he told the team, “Defensively, offensively, we're playing with no confidence. You guys are good, play your game.”

At halftime, he told them, “We're a better team than what we're showing. You know it and I know it. We can outscore them by 10 points (in the third quarter), then it's six points going in the fourth quarter and it's our game.”

However, the Thunder picked up only two points in the third quarter before making a late run.

Short takes

— Game analyst Jeff Van Gundy complimented the loud crowd, comparing it to Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke, but said it wasn't much of a factor. “The building is overrated,” he said. “What it has to do with the game is not really as much as you think.”

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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