ABC studio analysts pointed to a crucial stretch in the third quarter as leading to the Thunder's loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. They also questioned Thunder coach Scott Brooks for taking Russell Westbrook out of the game when Kevin Durant already was sitting after getting his fourth foul.
“I was very impressed with OKC,” Magic Johnson said. “They actually played a great game. They lost this game in the third quarter. They made two bad fouls on 3-point shooters to cost them six points and then they missed five free throws in that quarter. They could have blown this game open.”
Jon Barry questioned Brooks' strategy for pulling Westbrook in the third quarter. “I thought he should have left him in to get some scoring. They were really struggling.”
Johnson said the Thunder's offense stagnated in the fourth quarter. “They resorted back to one-on-one basketball at crucial times. They threw the ball away or took bad shots.”
Chris Broussard credited Heat forward Chris Bosh's defensive play for slowing the Thunder. “A lot of times when the Thunder drove late in the second half, he was there to meet them at the rim.”
In the pregame show, ABC had an interesting shot of LeBron James addressing his teammates.
“Don't disappoint our fans, man,” he said. “Do not disappoint yourself and do not disappoint your teammates. Go out for 48 minutes, plus.”
James backed up his word in the quarter. “In the fourth quarter, he was involved in about every play,” Johnson said. “LeBron is willing his team to victory.”
In a stark turnaround from Game 2, Johnson complimented Westbrook's play. “He played a smart game. Russell controlled the ball, and he took good shots.”
Barry noted the Thunder needed to develop a fourth scorer, especially with Harden struggling (2 of 10 from the field).
Game analyst Jeff Van Gundy and play-by-play announcer Mike Breen said Durant's fourth foul was questionable. “That to me is a play-on,” Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy had some strong analysis as usual, including:
*After complimenting Thabo Sefolosha's defense when the stole the ball from Dwyane Wade and drove in for a dunk: “Who would have thought that the Swiss would have a great defender?”
*On defending James on a fast break: “James with a head of steam is the most difficult cover in the league.”
*On the Thunder's improved defense in third quarter. “That's how you guard in the NBA. You keep the ball out of the paint.”
*Fox Sports Oklahoma analyst Grant Long on “Thunder Live” on the Thunder's offensive struggles: “I thought a lot of time they tried to use the dribble as opposed to using the pass to execute their offense. That is not a good recipe for this team.”
*On the pregame show, only Jon Barry picked the Thunder to win, noting they had won a big game on the road in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against San Antonio.
*At halftime, ABC showed Brooks urging his team to make good passes. “Every opportunity you have to make the extra pass, make it without hesitation. Trust your teammates that they'll do the same.”
*Interviewed at halftime by Michael Wilbon, NBA commissioner David Stern, who is attending his 29th NBA Finals, said he had no plans to announce his retirement anytime soon. Asked about increased interest in the league, Stern said, “This is a combination of the compression (shorter season), the five Christmas Day games and social media.”