Death in the West:
The stars aligned for the Thunder at the end of the game. After a 14-6 run, they were within 2, and when Zach Randolph missed both freethrows, they had possession of the ball with 10 seconds left. The ball found its way to Kevin Durant, and he got free for a long jumpshot to tie it.
Brutal. Kevin Durant will be watching that one looping in his mind as he tries to sleep. That shot's easier for him than anyone it the league. It's right in his FIBA range, where he demolishes the world from deep. Maybe he rushed it a bit; maybe Tony Allen distracted him; it doesn't matter to him. It's a public failure he can't expunge for at least a year. Last year's heroes are usually the first to be thrown under the bus, but KD's such a nice guy, I'm sure the usual suspects will take it easy on him.
Cue Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith... Apparently, Skip has lost all respect for Kevin Durant. It's fitting that Bayless should lack respect for someone; considering that nobody's ever respected him. Maybe if he just squints hard enough through his disturbing orange tan, he'll get there one day.
This isn't the first time these two have had trouble. Tensions were raised when Durant launched allegations that Skip is "brainwashing" people with his ignorance, and Skip is just generally an asshole, so that tends to get people mad at him.
Durant made it all too easy for the critics however, saving the worst for last. He had more turnovers than assists, shot only 24% from the field (his worst percentage for the whole year), and couldn't hit the big shot. According to his game log at basketball reference
, it was literally his worst game of the season.
Despite his troubles, Durant still led the team in scoring, which probably was a bad thing. Reggie Jackson was right behind him, followed by Serge. Derek Fisher played 31 minutes and attempted 11 threes, his only attempts of any kind. He hit 3 of them. Kevin Martin played a minute less and only attempted 6 shots, hitting half of them. It's clear that the Thunder lost their game plan long before they lost the series. For most of the playoffs they've seemed without clear direction, riding Durant's consistent excellence. When that abandoned them, there wasn't enough left to take them any further.
Especially not against these Grizzlies...
Death in the East:
The Bulls may have lost, but there is a silver lining for their fans. I hear Derrick Rose might be returning for Game 6.
The unholy revenge of the Heat lasted 4 straight games, this one was the most merciful. Even so, it's got to hurt to have a lead halfway through the 4th, only to end up eliminated. The last bucket for the Bulls was a Nate Robinson three. It brought the Bulls to within 3 points, which is where they stayed. In the end, the stitching on the patches came undone and the Bulls couldn't cheat fate any longer. Solid nights from Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer aren't going to get it done anymore. It's LeBron's league now, just like Tim Duncan told him it would be after sweeping him in 2007.
Or maybe it's Lance Stephenson's league. Could even be Tay's. Possibly Duncan's. I guess we'll be finding out...