The Oklahoma City Thunder’s monumental collapse in the fourth quarter Sunday provided a lot of fodder for the ABC’s studio crew to pick the team apart.
Doug Collins, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons ripped the Thunder for standing around and getting out of its offense.
“I think it’s a bad habit,” said Collins, a former 76ers coach. “They revert back to that one-on-one ball, the ball stops moving. … They don’t trust a system, they trust in individual players. And with the individual players, Durant had eight turnovers and was one of two at the free-throw line late.”
Collins said “the noise” about the Thunder’s finishing ability would return “about can they finish games, can Westbrook and Durant play together at the end of the game? It’s what always happens. They go from the penthouse to the outhouse. With this team, there’s no middle ground.”
He noted the difference between the Thunder and the Spurs is the Spurs believe in their system.
Rose, a former NBA star guard, credited Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who is eight inches shorter than Durant, for helping to shut down Durant late. “When that happened, OKC started standing around.”
Simmons said, “That was OKC at its best and OKC at its worst. For 42 minutes, they were great. The last six minutes, standing around, iso ball at the elbow for Kevin Durant.”
Simmons said the Clippers got a big break because Clippers star Blake Griffin should have been called for his sixth foul early in the fourth quarter while defending Westbrook. “Blake knew he committed the foul, he shrunk his body back.”
Collins said Griffin’s fifth foul actually turned into a blessing in allowing him to rest for the stretch run.
Simmons said he thought the Thunder, which he called the NBA’s “most talented team,” might be wasting its opportunity to win an NBA championship, similar to Clyde Drexler’s Portland Trail Blazers in the early 1990s. “You never know when the window is going to close.”
Game crew’s comments
Play-by-play announcer Mike Breen noted Clippers reserve guard Darren Collison was the difference in the game, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. “In series filled with All-Stars and All-NBA performers, it’s a role player who shined bright in the fourth quarter.”
Analyst Jeff Van Gundy noted as the Clippers took the lead late in the game, “the Clippers are getting much better shots than Oklahoma City.”
Van Gundy has his usual share of gems.
•After a clip from Durant’s MVP acceptance speech was shown, referring to his mother as “the real MVP,” he said, “He just set the bar so high for every child on Mother’s Day, like a card is totally insufficient right now.” He repeated his comment that it was “the best sports speech since Lou Gehrig’s retirement.”
•On rookie center Steven Adams, whom Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he had never anyone eat more than Adams: “They say he eats six entrees when he goes out for dinner. How big a table does he need?”
•After Serge Ibaka stuffed DeAndre Jordan’s shot: “That’s what you call a meeting at the summit … Give yourself a shoutout, Serge, you deserve it.”
•After Durant’s strong move for a layup against Jordan: “The slim reaper with a bucket and one … That’s just showing great strength for a guy who doesn’t look like he has strength.”
•On Thunder coach Scott Brooks: “I have been so impressed with his growth as a coach … I love the way he handles Russell Westbrook, in particular. He doesn’t overscrutinize Westbrook.”
•On players’ reactions after foul calls: “You can’t go by the players’ reactions because they are habitual liars.”
•Interviewed in the third quarter, former Lakers star Magic Johnson spoke highly of Westbrook: “He is playing the point position the way it should be played the last couple of games.”
•As a coach, Collins said take big leads often hurt his teams by causing them to let up. “You know it’s fool’s gold.”