In what’s becoming a bit of an alarming trend, the Thunder once again failed to get a good shot attempt out of a late-game inbounds play in Sunday’s 92-87 loss against Portland. With seven seconds remaining, Kevin Durant launched a potential game-tying 3-pointer from 28-feet rather than searching for a more quality shot. In last Monday’s 99-96 home loss to San Antonio, Thabo Sefolosha, a 29.8 percent shooter from long range, threw up a potential game-winning 24-foot 3-pointer with four seconds remaining. And that came after point guard Russell Westbrook foiled an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead on the previous possession when he stepped over the line as he attempted to inbound the ball. Coach Scott Brooks, though, isn’t concerned. "I disagree that they’ve become an issue,” Brooks said. "You get the ball and you make a shot, or you miss a shot. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad executed play.” Until you examine how opposing defenses have baffled the Thunder. Portland assigned 6-foot-11 center Marcus Camby onto Durant, and the Blazers saw their big man use his length to force Durant into short-arming his 3-point attempt. San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili doubled Durant immediately upon when he received the inbounds pass. And in a 104-102 home loss to Phoenix, Suns coach Alvin Gentry denied Durant the ball by putting 7-foot center Robin Lopez on the inbounds passer. "Obviously, we want to make all of our shots on out of inbounds (plays) down the stretch,” Brooks said. "That’s part of the game. That’s part of our development as a team.”
Scouting PhiladelphiaThe Philadelphia 76ers have the fourth-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 26-47 and have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Sixers, however, have won two straight games over playoff-bound Milwaukee and Atlanta. The Sixers also are 12-16 against Western Conference teams, including road wins against Portland, Denver, New Orleans, and Houston. Philadelphia also has won home games against Dallas, San Antonio and the Hornets. Philadelphia allows a league-worst 39.4 percent shooting from 3-point range. Shooting guard Andre Iguodala leads the Sixers in scoring at 17.1 points per game.
Izzo influenceBrooks traveled to East Lansing, Mich., last May to study Michigan State coach Tom Izzo’s program. The Spartans qualified Sunday for the Final Four for the sixth time in 12 years. "He had some good toughness drills that I’ve put in, taking the ball to the basket hard, don’t expect to get fouled, make the shot,” Brooks said. "He just has a real tough philosophy. After meeting with him, you know why his teams play physical every night.”
Ford Center ranks highCasey Womack, a correspondent for stadium journey, gave high marks after attending a Thunder game. Receiving an overall score of 26, a high rating on a scale of seven to 35, fans were the only category the Thunder received the maximum rating of 5. But the Thunder received 4s for atmosphere, neighborhood and return on investment. The Ford Center received a 3 in other three categories (food and beverage, access and etc.). "The Ford Center during a Thunder game is a unique experience,” Womak wrote. "Fans are extremely grateful for the team, and it shows by the crowd participation...The entire trip as a whole is truly memorable. You’ll want to go back if you’re a sports fan. Guaranteed.” To read Womack’s entire review, visit www.stadiumjourney.com.