ESPN/ABC’s No. 1 broadcast team of Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy marveled about the thrilling Game 3 of the Thunder-Clippers series with the Thunder pulling away late on a 3-point shot by Russell Westbrook and a jumper from Kevin Durant.
“This was a gritty, physical game where the tempers have flared,” Breen said. “This has been fun to watch.”
“Durant and Westbrook with big, big shots… A wonderful performance by the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
Van Gundy also noted the Thunder had an edge on defense in the end, noting Thunder guard Reggie Jackson’s long drive to the basket when he was fouled in the final minute.
“When a guy can take it 60 feet and go unimpeded to the basket, your defense is not as good as it should be,”
He noted the Thunder had a strong performance from the bench, including Caron Butler. “Caron Butler (had) huge threes in the fourth quarter.”
Van Gundy, a former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach, turned in his usual dose of strong comments.
*On Durant’s MVP acceptance speech Tuesday: “I thought it was the best sports speech since Lou Gehrig.” He also noted that Scott Brooks got a huge compliment when Durant said “he deserved all the credit.”
*On Donald Sterling likely to fight the NBA’s move to remove him as Clippers owner after his racial comments: “I think it’s going to be a protracted, prolonged fight from Sterling.”
*On Butler’s contribution to the Thunder: “He’s a tough guy, a team guy… He’s fit in well with his ability to spread the floor.”
*After Westbrook absorbed a hard fall, Van Gundy kidded Breen that he had no idea how he felt since he and Breen’s vertical leaps were 5 inches while Westbrook was 40 inches: “Like you ever been up that high to know when you fall like that it hurts.”
*On Thunder general manager Sam Presti’s player evaluation skills: “How good of a drafter has Sam Presti been.”
*On Westbrook’s 10th assist in Game 2 that he and Breen felt wasn’t deserved: “I wonder why statistians at home feel the need to pad stats like that.”
*On Miami cruising through the Eastern Conference playoffs: “I don’t think it’s good for Miami not to be challenged.”
*In the third quarter, Clippers star Blake Griffin ended up with a bloodied nose while going against Serge Ibaka, but neither Van Gundy nor former NBA referee Steve Javie thought Ibaka fouled Griffin. “I really felt like Ibaka played excellent defense and Griffin goes into his elbow.”
*Breen on Thunder center Steve Adams: “In a short time in his rookie year, he’s become one of the guys opponents hate.”
*Breen on Westbrook: “Russell Westbrook is absolutely breath-taking to watch… Sometimes exasperating.”
ESPN analysts Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose were late getting back to studio for the start of the show after watching the first half at Staples Center. Simmons said he thought both teams feed off the crowd. “There was a real energy. I enjoyed that.”
Doug Collins noted both are good defensive teams, but were ineffective against each other.
Simmons questioned a Clippers’ defensive move: “One adjustment I didn’t like was putting Jamal Crawford on Kevin Durant. That didn’t work.”