Former Oklahoma coach John MacLeod was inducted into the Phoenix Suns' Ring of Honor at halftime of Wednesday's game against the Thunder at US Airways Center.
MacLeod, who coached at OU from 1967-73 and went 90-69 (.566), becomes the 13th person inducted into the Ring and joins former OU great Alvan Adams, who was recruited by MacLeod.
Now 74, MacLeod became the Suns' coach at age 36 in 1973 remained until 1987 and finished with a record of 579-543. He is the winningest and longest-tenured coach in the franchise's history. He then coached the Dallas Mavericks for three seasons and the New York Knicks for one.
After coaching in the NBA, he coached at Notre Dame from 1991-99 and finished 106-124 (.461).
MacLeod was welcomed into the Ring via video by fellow member Charles Barkley, who was unable to attend.
The halftime ceremony ran long. Thunder players had to sit on their bench for eight minutes and gave MacLeod a standing ovation.
A high school star in Indiana as well as a former high school coach, MacLeod also was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.
NO. 2 SEED
With the Los Angeles' Lakers loss at home to San Antonio on Tuesday night, the Thunder clinched no worse than the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
“Really? Then we're going to sit Russell (Westbrook) and Kevin (Durant) tonight,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks joked at Wednesday morning's shootaround before turning serious and adding, “That doesn't change our thinking at all. We still want to keep charging ahead, keep movin', keep improvin'. It's nothing we talked about, never even mentioned it to our guys.”
HIGH ON HARDEN
Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said he believes Thunder sixth man James Harden might rank as the third-best No. 2 guard in the league this season.
“We were talking the other day as a coaching staff,' Gentry explained before Wednesday night's game. “We named obviously Kobe (Bryant) and we named Dwyane Wade and then we said, ‘OK, who's the next 2 guard you would take?' Throw me out a name?
“Seriously, he does everything pretty good. He shoots the ball well. If you want him to be a screen-and-roll player, he can do that. He can take the ball to the basket. He gets to the foul line. You'd be hard-pressed, other than those two guys, to come up with a guy who's playing better than he (Harden) is this year. He's really right there.”
Harden then went out and scored 19 points in 17 first-half minutes, making 6 of 8 shots, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line. Harden tied his career-high of 33 points with 10:48 still left in the game.
THE DAY AFTER
Brooks said the reason he gave his team Tuesday off had nothing to do with what transpired in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers the night before.
OKC was outscored 49-25 after intermission in a 92-77 loss to the Clippers, but the Thunder was given a chance to rest because it had played three games in a span of four days
“That's the main thing,” Brooks explained. “If we had won Monday, we would have had the day off. With the loss, we would have had the day off anyway.”
Game 4 of the Thunder's five-game road trip is Friday at 9 p.m. in Sacramento. Game 5 is Sunday in Los Angeles against the Lakers at 2:30 p.m. OKC then returns home for the final two games of the season against Sacramento on Tuesday and Denver on Wednesday.
Durant attended Tuesday night's Arizona Diamondbacks game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Chase Field. During his rookie season, Durant threw out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game. When asked if he threw a strike, Durant smiled and shook his head no. “It was more like a Hail Mary. I just wanted to make sure I got it to the plate, man.”
With 3:07 left in the third quarter, Phoenix point guard Steve Nash argued a call with official John Goble, who pleaded with Nash to stop arguing. When Nash kept going, Coble slapped Nash with a technical foul, which infuriated Gentry, who soon was slapped with a technical himself.
Durant and Harden made two free throws each to give the Thunder a 73-67 lead.
Durant lost track of the score and asked the scoreboard operator for one more point. When Durant later realized his mistake, he smiled and said, “Sorry, that's my bad,” drawing laughter from the entire stat crew.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins and Phoenix center Robin Lopez were slapped with technicals for jawing and refusing to unlock arms while running down court. It was Perkins' 12th technical of the season. One more will draw a one-game suspension.
The Suns once again were without veteran forward Grant Hill, who missed his 11th game in the last 13 starts with a knee injury. Hill has a history of defending Durant well.
“Obviously, we miss him because he's our best defender,” Gentry said. “We've got find a way to get it done. I'm not going to be a guy to stick him out there unless I'm sure (he's healthy).”
Gentry has coached Hill nine seasons in the NBA and has known Hill since the 11th grade when he was being recruited to Kansas, where Gentry served as an assistant under coach Larry Brown.
“He was at our Final Four in Kansas City that we won … in '88 … against Oklahoma,” Gentry said with a smile.