OKC Thunder notebook: Steven Adams continues strong contributions in first playoff run

With an ineffective Serge Ibaka held scoreless in six first half minutes because of foul trouble on Tuesday night, the Thunder was in desperate need of some interior help. Enter Steven Adams.
by Berry Tramel and Anthony Slater Published: May 14, 2014

“You can’t worry about what people say. Because you can’t please ‘em all. You can’t win over every fan. You can’t win over every writer. We all want to do the best we can. Russell’s no different. I admire that in him. He’s not worried about winning over anybody.”

CLIPPER TURNOVERS RISE

The Clippers had committed just 37 turnovers through four games of the series. But the Clippers committed 17 in Game 5, leading to 23 Thunder points. Paul had six turnovers through four games. He had five in Game 5.

“We want to force turnovers,” Brooks said. “We want to play solid defense. I thought our defense was good at times and not so good at times. Gave up a lot of open threes (the Clippers made 12 of 27). We weren’t really connected and ready to close out immediately on the catch.

“But we did get our hands on the basketball, got some deflections, some steals, some opportunities to score in transition. Those are the keys to our game.”

DURANT ALLOWED TO MISS SHOTS

Kevin Durant shot better than 50 percent (45 of 89) through the first four games of the series. But Durant made just six of 22 shots in Game 5s, and that’s with making his last two and three of his last five. What were the Clippers doing to curtail Durant?

“It’s always a combination with Kevin,” Brooks said. “We have to continue to move him around, and he has to continue to move around himself and get better setups, and lower setups, and forceful setups.

“And then he missed some shots. He’s allowed to miss shots. He’s allowed to have an off shooting night. The guy has been so consistent all year. In the playoffs, they’re obviously loading up to him and putting more than one guy on him. He’s done a great job being a facilitator, being a playmaker within our offense.”

Durant came up huge late, scoring 10 points in the final 31/2 minutes.

“What makes a special player or makes the great player special is that you can have a bad shooting night, then make three or four buckets down the stretch. He has the confidence in himself, the team has the confidence in him, and I have the confidence in him to make winning basketball plays. I’m not so concerned with him taking every shot. Just making the right play, whether it’s the shot or the pass. Those are areas he’s really improved on over the years.”

IBAKA RALLIES LATE

Despite foul trouble limiting him in the first half, Ibaka finished strong, with eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks in the second half, in which he played every minute.

“He missed some shots he knocks down 60, 70 percent of the time,” Brooks said. “Those are shots we want. But he came back, and bounced back, and had a good fourth quarter for us. That’s what you have to do. You just have to keep plugging away.”

BROOKS DOESN’T NOTICE FANS

Some Thunder fans left early from Game 5, when the Clippers led 101-88 with four minutes left. But Brooks said he didn’t notice.

“I heard about it earlier this morning,” Brooks said Wednesday. “One thing our fans know, the fans who left probably made a mistake. We never quit. We seem to do things the difficult way at times. But I didn’t really pay attention to that. I was focused on coaching the game.”

CHRIS PAUL SAYS NO FOUL

Lost amid the avalanche of controversial calls in the final few minutes on Tuesday night was the final turnover of the game.

As Paul drove the lane with two seconds left, he fumbled it away in the paint and sealed the Thunder win. But by early Wednesday morning, there was a photo floating around the Internet that showed Reggie Jackson reaching in and appearing to slap Paul across the forearm as he lost the ball.

The Clipper faithful cried foul. But at practice in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Paul told reporters that he didn’t believe he was fouled.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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