An ESPN commercial promoting the NBA playoffs and featuring Thunder forward Kevin Durant began running prominently last weekend.
The commercial shows Durant sitting in the rafters at an empty Chesapeake Energy Arena and carrying the theme “A Champion Will Rise.”
Needless to say, some concerned fans have questioned why Durant would put himself in harm's way sitting 100-plus feet high above the court – which, of course, was only an illusion.
“I really sat up there in the rafters,” Durant deadpanned. “Nah, you know how technology is today, man. I wouldn't risk nothing like that.”
Durant said the commercial was shot in Oklahoma City on March 24, the day before the Thunder played Miami at The Peake.
“It was pretty cool,” Durant said of the shoot, which was done in front of a green screen.
Former Lakers guard Derek Fisher received a mixed reception that was roughly 75 percent positive when he entered the game at the 2:12 mark in the first quarter.
Fisher buried his first shot, a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left in the opening period.
It was Fisher's second appearance at Staples Center since signing with OKC on March 21. His previous appearance was a 102-93 victory against the Lakers on March 29.
This was Fisher's home arena, but this was a Clippers home game.
“Hey, Derek,” a fan screamed while Fisher stood at the free-throw line. “You're weak. You're no good. That's why you got traded.”
The Thunder tentatively is scheduled to practice early Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix in preparation of its Wednesday 9 p.m. game against the Suns at US Airways Center. OKC then plays at Sacramento at 9 p.m. Friday and closes its five-game road trip back at Staples Center against the Lakers on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka drew two fouls 10 seconds apart early in the game and was replaced by Nick Collison at the 10:41 mark of the first quarter. Ibaka didn't return until the 6:10 mark of the second quarter and picked up his third foul with 1:50 left before halftime. … Russell Westbrook scored OKC's first seven points of the game, all by the 9:18 mark. … In the second quarter, Nazr Mohammed scored a layup and the public address announcer said, “Basket by Westbrook.” A Clippers fan shouted, “Not even close.” … With 1:50 left before halftime, a double-technical was called against Durant and Mo Williams. … The Clippers are one of only four teams to shoot 50 percent or better from the field against the Thunder this season. The Clippers shot 56.8 percent in their 112-100 victory over OKC on Jan. 30. In the first half Monday night, the Clippers shot 37.2 percent and trailed 52-43. … The Clippers opened the second half with a 9-1 run to pull within 53-52.
Last season, forward Caron Butler suffered a season-ending injury with the Dallas Mavericks and his teammates went on to win the world championship.
This season, the same scenario potentially awaits Clippers guard Chauncey Billups who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has mentioned how Butler remained an active member of the team despite the injury. On Monday, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro spoke in the same manner of Billups.
“Chauncey just has that way about him,” Del Negro said. “He has great leadership. He's around the guys. He was in the facility this morning at shootaround. His therapy is obviously his No. 1 thing. He'll travel with us. Just having him around I think is great. He has tremendous respect from the guys. He just has a presence about him that I just think helps us because he's been through it, and the guys respect that.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks on the benefit of playing against good teams this time of year: “It's so important to play against good teams late in the season. I've always felt that way. When you play against teams where their records aren't as good for whatever reason, those games are tough (to evaluate) because you don't know how much improvement is being made. When you're playing against Memphis, Miami, Chicago, the Clippers and the Lakers like we've done the next two or three weeks, you get better. Even on some losses you get better.”