TNT studio analysts Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley squabbled over Kevin Durant's missed jump shot as the Thunder's dramatic fourth-quarter comeback came up short in deciding Game 4 Wednesday night.
“He had a good look,” Barkley said. “He was just trying too hard.”
“The lane was open,” O'Neal said. “He should have gone to the hole and dunked it or drawn the defense and kicked it out.”
The two and Kenny Smith all agreed that Durant was tired in trying to carry the scoring load by himself. “When you get out of rhythm, it's tough, man,” Barkley said. … He's going to get some blame. He doesn't deserve it. It's hard to be a one-man wrecking crew every night.”
Barkley did blame Thunder coach Scott Brooks for not having a better game plan to start the game. “Scotty Brooks did him a disservice making him go one on five all night.”
Barkley said the Thunder should have sped up the tempo earlier like it did on its late comeback.
“This is the way they should have been playing to start the game, running up and down the court. … It was too little, too late.”
Barkley also noted that Memphis forward Zach Randolph manhandled the Thunder inside.
“He sent a limo for the big men for Oklahoma City. To make sure they didn't get in any traffic accidents and get to the game. He was beating them like a drum the last five games.
In the offseason, Barkley said the Thunder needs to get another big man.
“Until they get a big guy who can score, they're going to be a jump-shooting team and they're not going to win the big prize. … Because jumpers always end your season.”
Broadcasters describe shot
TNT's game broadcasters Matt Devlin and Mike Fratello on Durant's final shot:
Devlin: “Kevin Durant, 5 of 21, trying to will his team back late in the fourth quarter.”
Fratello: “They got it back to him. He was so anxious to get into the seam where he knew he had an open look. I thought he could have made one more dribble and make a decision to shoot it or drop it off.”
Fratello, a former NBA coach with Atlanta, Cleveland and Memphis, turned in his usual strong commentary.
Besides James Harden, he said the Thunder also missed point guard Eric Maynor, who was traded to Portland. “He was a very solid replacement when they would take (Russell) Westbrook out of the game.
*On Memphis guard Mike Conley's driving ability: “He is so slick going to his off hand in the paint, sneaky fast … He has developed into a much more confident offensive player.”
*On Durant's poor shooting in the second quarter: “I don't know if I've seen Kevin Durant so frustrated in a basketball game. They are banging and holding him, just making it so difficult.”
*On Nick Collison's quick three fouls: “Some of his fouls, he needs to cut out. They need him on the floor. … He gives them a little more offensive than (Kendrick) Perkins.”
*After Memphis forward Tayshaun Prince slammed home a dunk over Perkins and Ibaka: “I didn't know he had the lift in him, the old-timer.”
*On the Grizzlies improved play following the trade of Rudy Gay: “Interesting enough, you can lose a 2o-point scorer and in some strange way, be a better team.” He also noted that Prince fit in better with the team than Gay: “He doesn't demand as many shot attempts.”
Wired for sound
In the second quarter, TNT showed Brooks in the huddle praising Derek Fisher's hustle in trying to inspire his team.
“Fisher's play right there, that was an inspirational moment. He had no business getting that long rebound, then he had the wherewithal to make the long pass to K-Mart. Those are the plays we got to continue to make.”
Barkley blasted the Thunder game plan and the play of its big men.
“No. 1, my boy Scotty Brooks got the worst game plan, going to Kevin Durant every single play time with three guys hanging over him. It's a horrible game plan.”
After showing a highlight of Randolph going to his right then shifting to his left, he chided Perkins for taking the move. “The guy is left-handed. … The guy wants to come back to his left, idiots.”
Kenny Smith on his big picture segment, showed Randolph battling for position to set up an easy bucket.
“It's all about position. He's fighting for position. He's fighting for inches. Once you get into the lane, he has them … I don't care how high you jump, you can't guard him. Those inches mean buckets.”
O'Neal said his advice on defending Randolph, “I would jam him up and make him go one way.”