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Oklahoma City Thunder: Playoff basketball offers a new plot every night

Don’t count on the Clippers carrying over momentum from a rousing Game 4 comeback victory.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 12, 2014

Scotty Brooks went to the final 30 seconds of Game 4 without a timeout in his holster. And that’s OK. The Thunder got a better shot in free flow – Russell Westbrook’s open 28-footer with one second left – than it would have had Doc Rivers been given the chance to set up his defense.

Here’s the deal on timeouts. They’re not sick leave. They don’t accumulate. You can’t take them with you. Use them when you need them.

And speaking of not taking with you, the Thunder-Clippers holy war resumes Tuesday night, and all the momentum resides with the Clips. Which means as much as the three timeouts Rivers had in his pocket at Game 4’s end. You can’t take it with you.

That much is clear in playoff basketball. These riveting games are not a serial. It’s a new plot every night. It’s “Law & Order,” not the “The Sopranos.” Momentum lasts until the post-game dinner.

“They kicked our (butt) in Game 3, and for the majority of Game 4 they kicked our butts,” said Clipper sharpshooter J.J. Redick. “I don’t believe in momentum in a series. If there was any momentum … we beat the crap out of them in Game 1, so it’s been kind of a crazy series.”

You would think blowing a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, like the Thunder did Sunday in Los Angeles, would turn a team distraught. But you’d also think a blowout win in Game 1 of a series would establish momentum that would be hard to derail. Instead, after blowing out the Grizzlies in Game 1 three weeks ago, the Thunder lost three of the next four, all in overtime. After blowing out the Thunder in Game 1 a week ago, the Clippers were outplayed for most of the next three games and are fortunate to be tied 2-2 as the series returns to Oklahoma City.

Kevin Durant dismissed momentum as a factor in the playoffs.

“We seen that last series, we’ve seen it this series,” Durant said. “You learn so much throughout these games, you rarely have the same type of showing two games in a row.”

The good NBA teams suffer from short-term memory loss. They’re like baseball relievers and NFL cornerbacks. They put defeat down the garbage disposal. The Thunder is particularly adept at moving on. Over the years, they generally have answered discouraging defeats with rousing victories.

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by Berry Tramel
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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