TNT analyst Mike Fratello was on the top of his game in describing the Thunder's narrow 105-102 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of their playoff series Wednesday night.
Fratello, a former head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies, correctly diagnosed the Thunder's sloppy play, which allowed Houston to go on a 21-2 run and take a 95-91 lead.
“Really, it's been because of Oklahoma City's lack of execution, between bad shots — long perimeter shots, settling — and turnovers,” he said. “It's given Houston that many more opportunities and they've started making some shots.”
After the Thunder finally righted its ship, he took note of the Thunder's poise in helping to pull out the victory. He credited Kevin Durant for having confidence in Thabo Sefolosha's shooting and passing to him for the biggest three of the game, giving the Thunder a 101-97 lead.
“How about the confidence of Durant, who had just hit his three before that. Penetrating, he could have shot, but instead found his teammate for the three.”
Fratello and play-by-play Matt Devlin credited the Rockets for giving the Thunder a scare. “They're the youngest team in the NBA playoffs,” Devlin said, “and they've grown up tonight.”
In the first half, after Durant discussed his Sports Illustrated cover story with reporter Tracy Wolfson in a taped interview, Fratello praised Durant.
“He's just a refreshing guy. He's honest. He does his job every day in practice. He fits in with the team. He has not elevated himself in his own mind to that superstar status. His teammates love him.”
BARKLEY CREDITS MCHALE
At halftime of the Lakers-Spurs telecast, TNT analyst Charles Barkley credited Rockets coach Kevin McHale for making key adjustments.
“Give the shout out to my man Kevin McHale. He went to the zone defense, and the zone was awesome tonight. Mark Jackson (Golden State coach) and Kevin McHale have coached their team the last two nights. Great adjustments.”
Barkley is still expecting a “quick” series, with the Thunder winning 4-1.
*TNT had an interesting shot of Kendrick Perkins clearly holding Rockets forward Chandler Parsons as Sefolosha hit the crucial three, and then Parsons complaining to the officials.
*During a timeout, TNT showed Thunder coach Scott Brooks encouraging Kevin Martin to keep shooting. “K-Mart, shoot the ball. I don't care if you're 1 for 12, shoot the ball. I believe in you. Everybody believes in you.”
*Fox Sports Oklahoma made Serge Ibaka its Player of the Game for compiling 12 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. He also made the Thunder's final field goal on a 20-foot jumper. “That's a big-time shot by Ibaka,” analyst Grant Long said.
*In the postgame show, FSOK analyst Nancy Lieberman, a Basketball Hall of Famer, credited the Thunder's poise and Brooks' coaching. “You saw tremendous experience, no panic, execution and through the course of the game, Scott Brooks impressed me so much,” she said, noting Brooks' plays after timeouts.