In an extended interview scheduled to air on NBA TV on Monday, Heat forward LeBron James is expected to talk about a variety of legacy-related subjects.
But among the quotes released by NBA TV in advance of the segment, James, again, pays compliments to Thunder forward Kevin Durant and the joy with which he plays.
“The way he plays the game every single night is very inspiring, and it's motivating,” James tells NBA TV. “Obviously, we know he's going to be one of the greatest scorers to ever play this game. But the way he plays, just so joyous and happy, and it's like he's a kid back in Maryland. And I feel like when I'm on the floor, I'm a kid back in Akron."
BROOKS NOT WORRIED ABOUT DURANT'S MINUTES
Entering Tuesday night, Durant had played the most minutes in the NBA this season, at 1,981, and was averaging the third most per game, at 38.1.
Does that worry Scott Brooks?
“No,” Brooks said. “That's a good number for him. Plenty of time to rest during the game. I pick and choose when he needs more. A lot of time it depends on the schedule and depends on how he's feeling, depends on how he's doing. But we do a good job of managing minutes on the court during off days.”
STOTTS IMPRESSED WITH IBAKA'S DEVELOPMENT
More than five years ago, Blazers coach Terry Stotts, on a scouting trip in Treviso, Italy, was intrigued by a prospect named Serge Ibaka.
“I saw a raw, talented young athlete,” Stotts said. “But he certainly didn't shoot it the way he does now. He wasn't ready for the NBA, obviously, that's why he stayed in Spain.”
Now, though, Ibaka has developed into one of the most efficient midrange jump shooters in the league, in addition to his all-world interior defense. And Stotts has noticed.
“He's having a terrific year and continues to get better,” Stotts said. “He continues to improve. Obviously he has a defensive impact on the game, his shotblocking, his individual defense and he's turning into a very good perimeter shooting.”
In the first quarter of Tuesday night's game, Durant was called for an offensive foul after he appeared to shove off on Blazers forward Nicolas Batum, in an effort to get separation.
But Durant didn't agree, yelling “that's a flop” at the referee and earning a technical. It was his ninth T of the season, putting him in third in the NBA. DeMarcus Cousins is atop the league with 13.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Portland is the only team in the NBA to start the same five players in every game this season. By comparison, each of the Thunder's traditional five starters has missed at least one game this year.
Following Tuesday night's game, each teams was to board separate planes and head to the same place: Los Angeles. The Blazers will complete the first half of their season against the Clippers on Wednesday night, while the Thunder will finish its on Thursday against the Lakers. Tip is at 9:30 p.m. on TNT.