Last Updated: 5:10 AM, March 4, 2012
Posted: 2:28 AM, March 4, 2012
Like everyone else, I can’t get enough of the Thunder’s funky stuff.
On successive enchanting evenings — for those of lucky enough to have NBA League Pass — we got to gaze at their home invasions of the 76ers and the Magic.
Man, oh, man do the Thunder ever make furious full stops when the light is about to turn red! Man, do the league-leaders jump in opponents’ games with their length, quickness, force and coordinated teamwork!
I don’t want to say the 76ers and Magic panicked at crunch time, but it’s kinder than accusing them of choking. In the final 4.52 until five-tenths of a second remained and it didn’t matter anymore, Philly pulled the bow back eight times and quivered ’em all.
Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks and Elton Brand each misfired twice. Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday misguided one apiece.
Every try was tormented, exempting a 3-pointer off the fast break that Williams whiffed badly. Given too much time to primp, his rendition of the “Tighten Up” had me singing (“Look to your left now/Look to your right/Everybody can do it/ But don’t you get too tight”) the Archie Bell & The Drells’ masterpiece.
Thursday night, it was the Magic’s turn to come asunder when blitzed by the Thunder. Up 11 to start the fourth, they were outscored by 14 as All-Star MVP Kevin Durant gashed helpless defenders for 18 of his 38 points, and lost by three.
The Magic dehydrated so dreadfully with someone breathing their stale air they had to be hooked up to IVs during times out.
Except for three head shots by the often-stumbling, back-to-the-basket bumbling Dwight Howard, who’s out of his range beyond arm’s length (although his points did include one sight-seeing banked 15-foot jump hook) and one trey by Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s field goal cupboard was bare from 8:47 until the 16-second mark and the Thunder held a commanding 103-96 advantage.
The 29-8 Thunder’s dominance was so complete at both ends of the playground, Durant, Russell Westbrook (29 points, 10 assists and two turnovers before a sprained ankle forced him to the locker room with moments remaining) and James Harden (outscored Orlando’s bench, 13-12; eight recorded in the critical chapter) continuously marked their territory.
At the same time, the Magic pulled the covers over themselves so neatly they created hospital corners.
Brutally unmentioned (by TNT’s crack courtside crew and stellar studio analysts) during or after the hostile takeover was Howard’s puny protection of the paint in the final 9:23 when he reentered the game with his team still leading by seven.
Intoxicating infiltrations by Durant (one swoop to the hoop) and Harden (one layup and one decibel shattering dunk) left Howard groping and grasping at trespassers versus prosecuting them.
I really do my best to pay strict attention to Steve Kerr’s ceaseless flip-flopping on every issue and make every effort to comprehend the in-articulations by Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith that are so inane Stephen A. Smith must be scripting.
Unless my lyin’ ears deceived me, one of those waffling voices in TNT’s award-winning echoing warehouse pumped up Howard’s annual award-winning defensive prowess. I can’t recall which one. More important, I also can’t recall a withering word escaping a single mealy mouth regarding Howard’s fundamentally unsound coverage when Oklahoma City was rolling like Thunder above the covers.
After the game, Howard’s mom said Disney should stay in Orlando.
* The Heat were scheduled to play the Lakers this afternoon surfing the summit of a 10-game win streak with a New Orleans Saints-approved bounty on Dwyane Wade.
Then, in typical Hollywood fashion, the screenplay was rewritten.
After mailing in much of the first three quarters Friday night at Utah — trailing by as many as 18 — Miami finally got ABC’s urgent memo. Led by LeBron James (8-9 FG, good for 17-points in the final dozen minutes) the Heat took a late lead.
Nevertheless, a short-armed free throw (after converting the previous nine) by Wade and his subsequent mental mistake (fouling Devin Harris) left the Heat in a one-point ditch.
Welcome to the next stop on LeBron’s never-ending “Damned If He Does, Damned If He Doesn’t” World Tour.
Instead of shooting on the left elbow after faking and dribbling into an open-fire lane, James decided to defer. A nifty, no-look bounce pass found Udonis Haslem alone at the right of the foul line, where he habitually drains ’em. You could tell the trajectory was off target the moment it left his right hand.
James was immediately placed on suicide drills watch.
“It’s a read-and-react game,” he murmured long afterward. “I don’t come out the timeout saying I’m going to make the pass. I come out saying we need to get the best look. It’s just the way I’ve always played the game. It always comes to light when teammates don’t make the shot.”
Alas, only when such astute ball handling decisions pay off in a ‘chip or two will that deformed viewpoint be invalidated. How many times did that Michael Jordan guy find an open teammate for game-winners! Teams without understudies who occasionally overachieve never get crowned.
It’s so simple, even Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Smith (twice cap-n-gowned playing off Hakeem Olajuwon) can figure it out.