TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley can no longer avoid it. He and the rest of the TNT studio team will be coming to Oklahoma City for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, and Barkley sounded pleased that he finally was fulfilling his promise to come to the city he had poked fun of as a “vast wasteland” in 2006 when it hosted the Hornets.
“Can't wait!” Barkley shouted on the postgame show.
“Two river walks, baby!” Shaquille O'Neal gloated, referring to San Antonio and Oklahoma City having river canals. “I'm going on both of them, Ernie. Chuck is coming to OKC!”
In interviewing Russell Westbrook, Barkley even asked him where he could get a great steak in the city. “Mahogany or Mickey Mantle, it's your pick,” Westbrook said.
Barkley said he was excited about the matchup of the Thunder and the Spurs, which he called the best two teams in the league. “This is a pick 'em series,” he said. “It's going to be a monster series. I can't wait.
“I give the edge to the Spurs on the bench. I do think OKC has to find a way to get easy baskets and not rely on jumpers.”
O'Neal, who said he was picking the Spurs, gave some advice to Westbrook about staying on an even keel. “It's OK to celebrate, but the task is not done until the championship is won. Remember that.”
Solid game broadcast
Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Craig Sager turned in a solid game broadcast in capturing the mood of Game 5. In the fourth quarter, Sager even ventured into the raucous Thunder Alley, where a huge crowd watched the game on the large videoboard. “We're back to Oklahoma City, where the noise is roaring,” he said among the large crowd.
Miller, a former Indiana Pacer star, called the Thunder Alley crowd “awesome.” “In a small market when you get deep into the playoffs, the fans really rally behind you.”
Kobe Bryant's 42 points wasn't enough to carry the Lakers.
“I think he looks around hoping to hear a voice familiar,” Harlan said late in the game. “He has lost all his combatants. (Derek) Fisher is gone. Phil Jackson is gone. (Lamar) Odom is gone. Very tough for Kobe Bryant.”
Miller took a shot at Lakers coach Mike Brown for resting Bryant to start the fourth quarter when the Thunder put the game away with a 10-0 run. “If I'm Mike Brown, I got to get Kobe Bryant in the game.”
After Westbrook hit an unbelievable shot after a steal in the third quarter, Harlan said, “Westbrook with 12 (in the quarter) is looking to light a fire, a fuse for the Thunder.”
Miller objected to a flagrant one foul being called on World Metta Peace as he hammered Thabo Sefolosha late in the first half. World Peace also was called for a technical foul. “That was just a hard playoff foul,” he said. “I can understand why World Metta Peace is upset because it's guilt by association.”
A few minutes earlier, he said World Peace was playing like the Incredible Hulk. “He is just throwing people around left and right.”
— At halftime, the TNT studio analysts agreed with Miller that a flagrant foul should not have been called on World Peace. Kenny Smith said, “Unfortunately your past catches up with you sometimes.”
— Smith and O'Neal poked fun at Barkley for apparently having his eyebrows waxed besides getting a manicure. “You all can't break me. I'm a metrosexual. I'm cool. I'm cool where I'm at.”
— TNT showed Derek Fisher addressing the Thunder in pregame. “What we just have to do is do our job,” he said. “Everybody do their job, man. We're going to win tonight.”