TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley can no longer avoid it. He and the rest of the TNT studio team will be coming to Oklahoma City for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, and Barkley sounded pleased that he finally was fulfilling his promise to come to the city he had poked fun of as a “vast wasteland” in 2006 when it hosted the Hornets.
“Can't wait!” Barkley shouted on the postgame show.
“Two river walks, baby!” Shaquille O'Neal gloated, referring to San Antonio and Oklahoma City having river canals. “I'm going on both of them, Ernie. Chuck is coming to OKC!”
In interviewing Russell Westbrook, Barkley even asked him where he could get a great steak in the city. “Mahogany or Mickey Mantle, it's your pick,” Westbrook said.
Barkley said he was excited about the matchup of the Thunder and the Spurs, which he called the best two teams in the league. “This is a pick 'em series,” he said. “It's going to be a monster series. I can't wait.
“I give the edge to the Spurs on the bench. I do think OKC has to find a way to get easy baskets and not rely on jumpers.”
O'Neal, who said he was picking the Spurs, gave some advice to Westbrook about staying on an even keel. “It's OK to celebrate, but the task is not done until the championship is won. Remember that.”
Solid game broadcast
Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Craig Sager turned in a solid game broadcast in capturing the mood of Game 5. In the fourth quarter, Sager even ventured into the raucous Thunder Alley, where a huge crowd watched the game on the large videoboard. “We're back to Oklahoma City, where the noise is roaring,” he said among the large crowd.
Miller, a former Indiana Pacer star, called the Thunder Alley crowd “awesome.” “In a small market when you get deep into the playoffs, the fans really rally behind you.”
Kobe Bryant's 42 points wasn't enough to carry the Lakers.