Denver Nuggets reserve guard J.R. Smith said there's a “strong possibility” he won't sign with the team as a free agent, expressing frustration after the Nuggets' 106-89 loss in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“There's a strong possibility as of right now,” Smith told The Denver Post on Thursday. “It's not going the way I planned it to go. It's a tough situation. I want to be here, I love the fans and everything about the city. It's just maybe not my fit.”
Denver trails the series 2-0, with Game 3 on Saturday at 9 p.m. The Nuggets had a team meeting Thursday, and Smith said the team didn't have “a pulse” as they met at Pepsi Center.
“Just frustration, just really didn't have any life in there,” Smith said. “No one was really into it.”
Several Thunder players have received consideration for various NBA awards this season.
Minnesota's Kevin Love was named the league most improved player on Thursday. OKC point guard Russell Westbrook finished seventh in the voting and received three first-place votes. Forward Serge Ibaka got one second-place vote and one third-place vote.
Orlando's Dwight Howard won his third straight defensive player of the year award. Ibaka got two second-place votes and six third-place votes while guard Thabo Sefolosha got four third-place votes.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom won the sixth man award. Thunder reserve guard James Harden finished seventh in the voting.
Thunder reserve power forward Nick Collison fondly recalled a playoff victory in Game 4 at Sacramento while with the Seattle SuperSonics his rookie season in 2004-05.
“I think (career 3-point king) Ray Allen and I combined for 50,” Collison said. “He had 45 and I had five. You can look it up, but I remember Ray played great that game.”
Collison speaks the truth. Allen went 17 for 28 from the field, 6 for 14 from 3-point range, 5 for 5 from the free-throw line and finished with 45 points. Collison went 2 for 3 from the floor, 1 for 1 from the line and finished with five points.
Thunder players and coaches reiterated a 2-0 series lead is only halfway there.
“I'm happy that we protected home and we did what we were supposed to do,” center Nazr Mohammed said, “but like everyone says, ‘The series doesn't begin until you win on the other team's home floor.' We haven't won on their home floor yet. All we did is protect home and we have to keep that same focus to go in there and win on their floor. It's far from over. If they win two games on their floor, we've got a series.”
The last time Denver and the Seattle franchise met in the playoffs was in 1994. Nuggets coach George Karl was coaching the top-seeded SuperSonics (63-19), who lost 3-2 to No. 8-seeded Denver (42-40).
“Those first two games were somewhat lopsided,” Karl recalled. “We were somewhat in control, and they win Game 3 and 4, one is on overtime. Then in Game 5, Robert Pack (23 points, four assists, two steals) and the (Reggie) Williams kid (11 points, 11 rebounds) had their career nights, and LaPhonso Ellis (19 points) played great.
“I remember the game pretty clearly. Probably the worst day of my life. I know it was the worst night of my life. I can remember almost exactly what I was doing. It wasn't very good.”