thunder bench

James Harden's flop: All I can say is: Wow.

Okay, "wow" isn't really all I can say. If there was such a thing as basketball prison, and players were sentenced to it for crimes against the sport, I would want Harden serving a life sentence with no chance for parole.

It wasn't just the flop, mind you, it was the "OH MY GOD NOT MY FACE!" reaction that went along with it. There's selling a flop, there's overselling a flop, and there's pretending someone shot you in the head. Too much, James. Too much.

The worst part was that Tyson Chandler received a technical foul for arguing the call. The league actually showed some wisdom by rescinding the tech. But damn, people. It never should have come to that. And Harden's flop-a-rooni started an 8-0 run that pulled the Thunder to within 65-52, which was the closest they'd been since the end of the first quarter.

Which brings me to...

The Oklahoma City Thunder: Playing at home with a chance to take complete control of the series, the Thunder forced Dirk Nowitzki (7-for-21) and Jason Terry (3-for-12) into bad shooting games. Ditto for Jason Kidd (4-for-10) and Peja Stojakovic (3-for-7). In all, the Mavs shot 43.9 percent and went only 7-for-21 from downtown. They also lost the rebounding battle 45-37 and had a 36-18 disadvantage in free throw attempts.

Dallas also led by as many as 23 points and held on down the stretch for a 93-87 win. Thanks to a team-wide offensive pants-wetting by Oklahoma City.

The Thunder shot 36.5 percent as a team and went 1-for-17 on threes. That is not a misprint. According to ESPN Stats and Information, OKC tied for the second-worst three-point percentage in a playoff game in the last 20 years (5.9 percent), trailing only the 2005 Mavericks, who shot 5.6 percent (1-for-18) in a 119-102 loss to the Phoenix Suns. You know, back when the Suns were relevant and Steve Nash was the MVP.


Anyway, Kevin Durant bricked his way to a 7-for-22 night and Russell Westbrook went 8-for-20 and committed 7 turnovers. And you know what? Westbrook has me totally confused. I can't tell if he's Oklahoma City's best player or their worst nightmare. Is he keeping them in games or shooting the Thunder out of them? I have no idea at this point.

Maybe it's a little of Column A, a little of Column C.

On the subject, courtesy of AnacondaHL, a "flawed yet interesting take on why Eric Maynor should be point over Westbrook."

So now let's backtrack to that "since the end of the first quarter" reference I made in the entry for Harden's flop. Oklahoma City got outscored 27-12 in the first 12 minutes, and that pretty much defined the game. According to ESPN Stats and Information, "they turned the ball over 7 times and made just 4-17 from the field. The Mavericks meanwhile assisted on 8 of their 12 made FG."

Bad D. Bad O. Bad everything.

Said Durant: "Frustrating. It's tough to start a game, not make shots and you give teams easy baskets. That's like a backbreaker."

Added Thunder coach Scott Brooks: "There's no question they started the game really hitting us and knocking us out of our offense. And we missed a lot of 3s. Those 3s weren't all contested."

Sometimes you’re hitting. Sometimes your not. On Saturday, the Thunder were not. It wasn't just three-pointers, either. According to Hoopdata, OKC went 4-for-9 from 3-9 feet, 3-for-10 from 10-15 feet and 3-for-9 from 16-23 feet. And they missed 13 of their 29 attempts at the rim.

Bonus video: More adventures in officiating courtesy of Refcalls:

The Chicago Bulls: I didn't think it would be Chris Bosh.

He was the Ringo of these "Heetles," right? The oft-criticized, occasionally forgotten third wheel. The butt of all the "Two and a Half Men" jokes that swirled around Miami this season. The Boshtrich. The guy who went 1-for-18 against the Bulls during what's turning out to be an utterly meaningless regular season game.

I didn't think it would be Chris Bosh.

I just didn't think he would be the Heat player beating the Bulls.

Bosh scored 34 points on 18 field goal attempts.

According to Hoopdata, e went 5-for-6 at the rim, 2-for-2 from 3-9 feet, 1-for-1 from 10-15 feet and 5-for-9 from 16-23 feet.

He hit open shots.

He hit contested shots.

After starting the game 0-for-3, he went 13-for-15.

Bosh also earned more foul shots (10) than LeBron James (9), Dwyane Wade (6) or Derrick Rose (3).

And he knocked down eight of them.

Chicago's defense was designed to slow down the scoring exploits of LeBron (6-for-13) and D-Wade (6-for-17). That mission was accomplished. But Bosh's frightening accuracy from everywhere on the floor stretched that D to its breaking point. It allowed James to drive, draw the double team, and kick the ball out. Six of LeBron's game-high 10 assists were dished to Bosh and Wade...four of them to Bosh.

That's the value of Miami's three-star system.

How can you possibly guard all three of them on every possession? The answer, it's turning out, is that you can't. Bosh now has two 30-point outbursts in three playoff games against the Bulls. And in the one game he didn't go for 30, James and Wade had big scoring games.

It's hard not to compare LeBron's floor game and assist totals to that of Derrick Rose. Of course, when Rose tried to run the pick and roll with Joakim Noah, the Heat defense stuck to Rose like it was made of Velcro. That's because Noah is no threat to score. Last night, Jo finished with a single point on 0-for-4 shooting.

Speaking of which...

Joakim Noah: Let's put it this way: Noah finished the game with more alleged gay slurs than field goals.

Oh, man. Listen to Grant Hill and think before you speak, Joakim!

Back to the game, Noah has never been a primary or even secondary scoring threat. The Bulls count on him to rip down rebounds and make an impact on defense. Only he didn't do either last night. Not even close. Jo totaled a mere 5 rebounds, only one of which came on the offensive end, when he missed a tip shot.

And he was the unfortunate victim of several Bosh jumpers.

Noah finished with five fouls. He committed three of them trying -- and failing -- to stop Bosh. He couldn't even slow Bosh down. That wasn't just a hiccup in the game plan. It blew the game plan to hell.

Said Noah: "We didn't finish well at the rim. I feel like I could definitely do a better job on the boards, and I need to finish better. I'm really disappointed in myself with the way I played tonight."

You can tell Noah is frustrated. You can also tell he's lost all faith in that little 15-footer he had developed before his thumb surgery. Now, when left unguarded with the ball on the outside, Noah looks like he's holding the world's hottest potato. He can't get rid of that thing fast enough.

Juxtapose Noah's fear of getting the rock outside the paint with Udonis Haslem's confidence. Haslem went 4-for-5 from the field in the second half, which included jumpers from 15, 16 and 18 feet. Haslem's ability to hit those shots opened up the floor for James to drive and kick, drive and kick, drive and score.

Back to the Bulls... The Bulls aren't opening similar lanes for Rose. Carlos Boozer finally made a jail break -- 26 points, 10-for-12 at the line, 17 rebounds -- but Deng went 2-for-7 when he wasn't shooting from point blank range. Keith Bogans hit one and missed two. Ronnie Brewer was 2-for-6 and hasn't earned any respect for his jump shot. Kyle Korver attempted only two field goals in 11 minutes. Omer Asik -- who's less of a threat to score than anyone else on this team -- went 0-for-3 before leaving with a leg injury.

In short, the Bulls couldn't stop Miami's Big Three -- who scored 73 of the Heat's 96 points -- and couldn't get anything consistent out of their offense outside of Boozer. Haslem, Mike Bibby (2-for-4 on threes) and Mario Chalmers (2-for-3) spaced the floor just enough for their superstar teammates to go where they wanted to go.

Chicago won the rebounding battle (41-32) and outscored Miami in the paint (36-31), but the Heat nearly 51 percent from the field and went an outrageous 10-for-19 from 16-23 feet (52.7 percent). That can't happen.

Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: "They're making shots. We have to get up and challenge their shots better. We have to finish our defense. The rebounding was good. Challenging their shots wasn't."

I guess. Although there were a couple times Noah's hand was so far up in Bosh's face he could have wiped Bosh's nose, but Miami's big man knocked the shots down anyway. What more can Noah do to challenge? Hit Bosh with a brick?

Shouldn't be a problem. The Bulls have plenty of bricks to go around.

Kyle Korver: This was just...embarrassing. All I can say.

Chris' Weekend Playoff Lacktion Ledger:

Mavs-Thunder: Eric Maynor bricked once and lost the rock once as well for a +2 in 5:54, while Daequan Cook baked two bricks from...uh...Bricktown and fouled thricely for a +5 in 14:03.

Bulls-Heat: Gee, Mr. Joakim Noah, the fact you are in the lacktion report probably means you didn't help the moo machine beat out South Beach.

In 29:04 as starting big man, five boards and six assists were negated by four bricks, two turnovers, and five fouls for a 7:6 Voskuhl. yikes.

Omer Asik also represented the windy city well with two fouls countering a board in 15:21 for a 2:1 Voskuhl.

Meanwhile, Miami's Mike Miller fouled and bricked twice each (once from...uh...Brickell) and lost the rock once in 12:54 for a celebratory +5 suck differential.

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Anonymous Barry said...
I always thought of Bosh as the George Harrison of these Heatles. Rather unassuming personality compared to LeBron and Wade, overshadowed by the two but definitely talented in his own right and some who can really contribute to what you are doing.

The whole bench is Ringo.

Anonymous Vanilla Thunder said...
Bosh as George Harrison makes me gently weep.

With all the talk of flopping I have to point out that it has just been confirmed that Manu Ginobili, often maligned for his artistry in the flopping arts, was playing with a fractured arm, not a sprained elbow as originally reported, during the Spurs/Grizz series. Thus proving once again he is one of the toughest players in the league today.

Blogger gregsgourmet said...
I'm gonna go ahead and say that 4-for-10 for Jason Kidd is actually a good shooting night.

Blogger Ash said...
Miami vs Dallas again? Vomit.

I refuse to watch basketball until next season.

Anonymous kin Yan said...
I love reading your site, but a little grammar/spell check never hurt anyone. "Your hitting"? "advantures"? Come on, please be less bawful in English.

Anonymous JJ said...
Like him or hate him, Ginobili is a great player with no weaknesses. He has mastered pretty much every aspect of NBA basketball, including flopping. He's the only flopper who has my respect.

Heat vs Mavs rematch seems like a reality now. It's going to be fun to watch. I don't think Mavs will choke like last time, but I don't think they can beat Heat either.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I assume that today's article was named because "Bulls Blew Chunks" was already taken, and "Bulls Gargle Balls" was probably too far. Too far.

In my unjustified outrage, I almost wanted to cry that the league set the heat up to win with a bajillion day rest before this game, which would aid the Nazgul. But I realistically wonder if the drive for ratings is the blame. Oh well.

Blogger Unknown said...
This Bulls-Heat series is borderline unwatchable. My idea of good basketball is not James or Wade playing isolation offense on one end and Derrick Rose flailing to the hoop one against five on the other end. The only thing keeping this above the Knicks-Heat nadir is the individual talent of the guys mentioned above. In other words the exact opposite of Carlos Boozer, who looks terrible even when he is putting up good numbers.

And in the other series, my vote is for the "Westbrook is killing OKC" option.

Anonymous kazam92 said...
*Waits for someone to point out Bosh's 5 rebounds to downplay his performance*

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Guys, did you watch the DAL-OKC match? This time it wasn't Westbrook but instead Durant who took impatient, baaad-bad shots all game long. Can I get a WOTN for him as well?

Anonymous JeroenB said...
In reply to the flopping, this is what happened in the Dutch basketball league yesterday (this time the bigman flopping):

Anonymous Spab said...
I think Noah's gotta get fined more than Kobe did for the gay slur just so the league shows they're serious about cutting down on this stuff. Everyone in the league shoulda got the message with Kobe's fine, and the fact that Noah didn't means the league needs to send another message. I'm saying $200K fine for Noah, at least.

Anonymous Karc said...
Why would Noah get fined at all? He yelled it at a fan, who was probably yelling the same thing to him. I've sat at games, the stuff liquored-up idiots say to players is incredible. They would have to be athletes to have the restraint not to beat the crap out of them.

I even thought Kobe's 100K fine was way too excessive. Fine him for insulting a ref on camera, that's ok. But 100,000 is a message set to appease someone who was bitching about nothing. Where was the American Cancer Society when KG call Charlie V "a cancer patient?" These people (namely GLADD) need to get off this. Are they now just realizing that big tall basketball players use trash talk and bad language in the heat of the game? Way to join the party 40 years too late.

The NBA really needs to start taking measures to keep the media and the fans from getting too close to the court. MLB, NFL, and NHL don't have this problem because they keep the morons away. Can you imagine if some drunk tried to insult Ray Lewis? I also have no interest seeing a player getting his head split open because he fell on a camera right under the basket. Can't have it both ways. People want more access, then start crying when the access starts yelling out derogatory terms because they are angry about something. What did you think they were going to say, "Please leave me alone, your yelling is disturbing my play," or "I really disagree with this call, I was not aware that I was not allowed to do this?"

Sorry, I'm just venting here.

Anonymous Wave said...
What? WHAT?

Remember when you said Goran sold Vujacic's foul in Game 6, as he was supposed to do? So it's okay for him to do that, but it's not okay for James Harden to flop?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Trail Blazers have fired Rich Cho (10 months after firing Kevin Pritchard). Blazer fans are perplexed and disgruntled.

Blogger lordhenry said...
Yeah, Heat Dallas looks like it will happen NOW, but if the Bulls take a game in Miami then things look a lil different. Ditto for OKC/Dallas, though my $ is on Dallas stealing yet another in OKC and closing out in 5 or 6.

The way Dallas annihilated my Lakers was an insane dispay of basketball all-around, the way they were playing in that series nobody could've beat them. If they can get 4 more games like that, I think they have a shot at the cHeat.

Plus, after all the crap Stern has heard about the 06 series being rigged, wouldn't the best way to put that to bed is to have Dallas win over Miami the 2nd time?

Just a thought.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I agree with Kin Yan on the spelling comment. As a blog that loves to blow little mistakes out of proportion and make fun of other people's mistakes, basketbawful really shouldn't have as many spelling mistakes and typos as it has this year. This has bothered me on a couple of occasions.
Now before you go and point out any mistakes i made in this comment: i'm from europe and english is a 3rd language to me ^^
When euro-guy is calling your spelling mistakes, you can do better!

Blogger Xscape said...
j-kidd's total turnover number in this series is 6 (after game 3), meanwhile westbrook turned the ball over 7 times just in game 3. and about assist/turnover ratios, im gonna pass that, its just ridicilous. conclusion : okc should find a decent pg, trade rw's ass off !...

Blogger Cortez said...
"Why would Noah get fined at all?"

For me, the real question is...

Why is Noah talking to anyone in the stands at all? Maybe if he stayed focused on the game and didn't worry about some random asshole in the stands shouting random nonsense he would be able to get more than 1 point.

Sensitive fruitcake, pay attention to the court.

...wait, is that offensive?

Blogger Wormboy said...
@Wave: there's a difference between selling a foul and being a cheating bitch like the entire Italian national soccer team.

Blogger Ragib said...
I'm pretty sure the fines are adjusted to your relative importance and salary. If you are Kobe and you know the camera is always on you and heaps of people look up to you and watch the NBA because of you, then you definitely need to watch yourself and not say anything stupid. $100,000 out of his 25 million he will make this year doesn't seem that large but we can't forget, its $100,000 dollars...

Noah got fined $50,000 and he makes like 6 million this year, so the ratio was even higher for him.

Anonymous Atlanta Roofing said...
No wonder, Mavs really shows their experience as a playoff veteran team and also the players. Even though they don’t have those speeds like the young players of Thunder, they’re still able to match up them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have to chime in with Kin Yan, too. Also, "thricely" is not a word, regardless of how often it gets thrown around in these posts.

Anonymous Home Made Energy said...
They really showed what an experienced team on playoff is. Both Kidd and Nowitzki played playoff for many years. And for thunder, it’s a good thing that they make it to playoff series even if most of their players are young and fresh to playoff series.