TNT studio analysts questioned Thunder coach Scott Brooks' strategy of continually hacking Rockets center Omer Asik in the fourth quarter of Game 5 Wednesday night.
Shaquille O'Neal, who knows something about being hacked, said Asik was beginning to feel comfortable on the free-throw line.
“When they do it that many times, you actually develop a little bit of a rhythm,” he said. “I used to really love it when they did it that time. I didn't make most of them.”
Charles Barkley said the Thunder should have ditched the strategy after it cut the lead to six. “That's the mistake they made,” he said.
During the game telecast, TNT analyst Chris Webber said he was surprised by the move because it was out of character for the Thunder.
“In a way it reminds me of a coach going for it on a fourth-and-1,” he said. “You make it, you're a genius. You miss it, you're a goat.”
Barkley said he thinks Brooks has to change his strategy in Game 6 and play Kendrick Perkins less. “I think he is going to have to go small if they are going to win this series,” he said.
But Kenny Smith said that might play into the Rockets' hands as they seek to become the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a series.
“I don't think their five small guys are as good as the Rockets' five small guys,” said Smith, who said “without question” he thought Houston could win the series.
O'Neil said he knew the game was over with the Rockets leading 101-92 and Kevin Durant did a “pout and stop” by watching the play after his teammates didn't pass him the ball. “When I see him do this, I knew the game was over.”
On the Fox Sports Oklahoma postgame show, Nancy Lieberman criticized the Thunder defense. “It starts and ends with being able to contain the dribble penetration. That's been an issue the last two games. … They look a little bit discombobulated on who's rotating.”
Lieberman said the Thunder also needs to go a better job in guarding the three-point line. “They have been waiting for this breakout game … They seemed in rhythm. They didn't feel any duress.”
Webber, a former star forward, provided some excellent analysis in working with average play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton. Among some of his comments: