Veteran player Kevin Martin drew the raves from the network analysts in the first half, and then Derek Fisher was applauded in the second half of the Thunder's clinching victory in Game 6 Friday night.
“He (Martin) was waiting for Game 6,” said ESPN game analyst Hubie Brown, a former NBA coach. “What a show he is pretty on.”
Later he added, “I know everyone in Oklahoma City is excited. They were waiting for him to step up.”
At halftime, studio analyst Magic Johnson noting Martin's 21 first-half points, said he should have started the game instead of center Kendrick Perkins.
“I was going crazy when Perkins started,” said Johnson. In fact, colleague Jalen Rose said he climbed on the table and screamed at the TV.
“You got to start Kevin Martin,” Johnson said. “Houston is going with a small lineup. You give him a chance to get in rhythm and coach (Scott) Brooks should look to start him in the second half instead of Perkins.”
Johnson noted that K-Mart knew the building well, having played for the Rockets. “That's why you have to give him more minutes. He wasn't going to slump every game. You've got to let him shoot himself out of that slump.”
Bill Simmons noted that the Thunder wasn't working Martin into its offense enough. “You need his 20 to 25 points a game,” he said. “You got to have it.”
In the second half, the 38-year-old Fisher drew numerous accolades. “You just look at this series,” Brown said. “His defense on (Aaron) Brooks in the second quarter turned it around and now he had done an excellent job on Harden.”
After the Thunder had taken a 15-point lead, both ESPN and FSOK had shots of Thunder coach Scott Brooks congratulating Fisher during a Rockets timeout. “The veteran has come in on both ends and stabilized this team,” Tirico said.
Kevin Durant's play also drew praise. His three-pointer in the fourth quarter gave the Thunder a 87-79 lead. “This is a dagger,” Brown said, “following up on the (Rockets) bad shot.”
On the Fox Sports Oklahoma postgame show, Nancy Lieberman complimented the Thunder for the perfect “blueprint” for victory.
“It was absolutely beautiful that they weathered the storm and then totally took the game over, got in the passing lanes, active hands, amazing defense. Derek Fisher, at 38, has amazing foot speed and what he does defensively. It was a fabulous team performance.”
Game analyst Grant Long noted the team kept its composure.
“They got down a few times in the ballgame and the series, but they still maintained their composure. That's what I was most impressed with. They recognized and made some in-game adjustments. The 16 fast-break points in the game, that's what they needed, more easy baskets.”
-- In the fourth-quarter break, ESPN captured a confident Brooks predicting the Thunder would close it out. “Get ready for your best quarter. I feel it. We're getting a little rhythm right now. Play the game hard. We'll be rewarded.”
-- ESPN game announcer Mike Tirico noted the inexperienced lineup of the Rockets, which included former OSU star James Anderson. “This is a collection of other people's discards for the most part. It's really been put together by the leadership, personality and basketball experience of Kevin McHale on the sideline.”
-- After Fisher argued a foul call, Tirico said official Mike Callahan probably told him, “Don't talk to me. Stop it. I don't care if you've played in 235 playoff games. That's a foul on you.”
-- FSOK made Martin its player of the game for his 25 points, three assists and a steal.
-- It was FSOK's final game telecast of the season. However, the TV announcing crew will be part of postgame shows and contribute to the radio broadcasts.