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NBA Finals remote patrol: Magic Johnson changes tune on Russell Westbrook

Two games after Magic Johnson said Thunder guard Russell Westbrook turned in the worst half of point guard play in NBA Finals history, Westbrook earned an apology of sorts from Johnson after his 43-point effort in Game 4 Tuesday night.
by Mel Bracht Modified: June 20, 2012 at 12:22 am •  Published: June 20, 2012

Thunder play-by-play voice Brian Davis interjected praise for Westbrook. “Partner, you could say hell of a job. This is cable.”

VAN GUNDY COACHES

Van Gundy, a former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach, offered more coaching advice than he had in the first three games.

He was particularly harsh on the Thunder for not getting back on defense in the third quarter. “Oklahoma City is dragging up and down the court,” he said. “I can't stand it when teams are doing that. You're playing for something significant. If you're tired, sit down. If not, sprint back.”

After Brooks took Serge Ibaka out after getting his second foul five minutes into the game, Van Gundy said the coaches are too conservative in pulling players. “Overall, I think everyone from the NBA on down to high school, we overreact to foul trouble.”

Van Gundy did take issue with some of the fouls called on the Thunder. After a questionable foul was taken off Durant and given to a teammate, he said, “I think we should give it to somebody else, Cole Aldrich on the bench.”

SHORT TAKES

--Similar to the first three games, Barry was the only studio analyst to pick the Thunder to win. Barry noted that trailing 2-0, the Thunder had won four in a row against the Spurs, which had won 20 in a row.

--ABC showed James speaking to the Heat in the pregame and Derek Fisher addressing the Thunder. “It's a must win for us,” James said. “It's Game 7. Don't lose no chances, man. Don't feel sorry for yourself.”

--After the game, ABC showed Heat coach Erik Spoelstra speaking to his team in the locker room about the routine of placing black marks on signs outside the arena after each playoff victory. “It's got to be black and blue,” he said. “We are more built for black and blue. This was a great win. Let's make sure we stay focused.”

--Smith said the Thunder blowing the 17-point lead so quickly told him “the Oklahoma City Thunder are not ready” to compete for the title.

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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