Time To Rethink The West Race?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Had someone asked you a month ago to rank the true contenders in the Western Conference, your list would probably have included the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers — most likely in that order.

But after the whirlwind drama of the past 72 hours (and really the past month), no one can be blamed for taking a moment to rethink that order. In fact, there might need to be a team or two (the Clippers and Grizzlies perhaps …?) added to that list of contenders. It’s come to this, a complete crisis of confidence in our own picks based on the play of all of these teams.

As skeptical as we were of the Spurs early on and whether or not they could maintain their collective health to mount yet another championship run, we have since reconsidered. Their in-season acquisitions, at the trade deadline and elsewhere, changed the game in their favor. They’ve dismantled all comers, when Gregg Popovich feels like unleashing his full arsenal on someone the way he did the Lakers Friday night.

The same goes for the Lakers, who seriously upgraded their operation with addition of Ramon Sessions and apparently Jordan Hill, who played huge minutes in place of Andrew Bynum in the Lakers’ double overtime win over the Thunder yesterday in Los Angeles.

Ron Artest‘s vicious elbow aside, this matchup offered us a telling look inside the psyches of both teams. The Lakers, even when they are shooting like first graders on a 10-foot rim, still have the firepower (and the Kobe Bryant power) to overcome their own failings to steal a game from another elite team. The Thunder, on the other hand, showed us that they still have some maturing to do.

Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman warned us about this on the Hang Time Podcast earlier this month. He told us that we might be crowning the Thunder prematurely after they dispatched the Heat and Bulls on successive Sundays. He reiterated his warning after the Thunder blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and lost their way (and the game) against the Lakers:

“We got cold when we needed to stay hot,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

Sound familiar?

Once again, a severe offensive drought doomed the Thunder. This time, it was a 9-for-36 shooting performance in the fourth quarter and overtime. This time, the Lakers outscored the Thunder 53-29 in the final 22 minutes.

And this time, it all but sealed the Thunder’s fate as the 2-seed in the Western Conference.

“We were taking jump shots,” Brooks said.

And tons of them…obviously with very few of them falling.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 14-of-56 for the game. In the fourth quarter and overtimes, the Thunder’s All-Star duo went 6-for-28. Durant was 5-of-19 over that span.

“It wasn’t out of poor execution,” Brooks maintained. “We got good looks. Normally we make those shots. And I’ll take those next game.”

With spark plug James Harden nursing a concussion in the locker room from halftime on, the Thunder was missing its best playmaker when it mattered most and struggled mightily as a result. But even without the projected Sixth Man of the Year, the Thunder should have held on to a 79-62 lead with 10 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Had it done so, the Thunder would have wrapped up this five-game road trip with an impressive 4-1 record heading into the final two regular season games.

Instead, the Thunder dropped to 3-2 on the trip, fell 1 1/2 games behind San Antonio for the top seed and, worst of all, now must enter the postseason facing familiar questions about its ability to close out games.

This was the third straight loss the Thunder suffered because it simply couldn’t close the door. It was the second time in seven days that the Thunder collapsed in this building. Last Monday, OKC scored just 25 second-half points against the Clippers in a 92-77 defeat. And in a two-point loss to the Clippers on April 11, the Thunder scored just nine points in the final seven minutes, making just 2-of-7 shots over the final 6 1/2 minutes while turning it over twice.

These same late-game issues won’t simply go away because the postseason has started and the Thunder flip some imaginary switch to make it stop.

The inability to close out games has cost teams championships. Just ask the Heat about what went wrong in The Finals last year when they failed to close out the Mavericks in Game 2 and it wound up costing them an entire series.

Failure to close out games is a fatal flaw that could push the Thunder’s championship clock back another season if they are not careful.

And it’s certainly a serious enough issue for us to rethink the Western Conference race, which has shed the Rockets and includes a Tuesday night win-or-go-home showdown between the Suns and Jazz for that final playoff spot.


102 Comments

  1. dodie says:

    i dont give a damn on this non-sense west thing….bring them on…heat all the way…

  2. Pau Ahn says:

    and last thing Kobe usually takes the last shot then double team him OKC has 3 players KD, Russ WBrook, and Harden. Even when Harden was out 2 Players is better then one and Kobe still finds a way to win thats how you win a Championship

  3. HardenDeservesThe Hit! says:

    I Believe he deserves the hit, it was unintentional for MWP to elbow.. Face It.. what would you do if you are celebrating and someone just came up to you and stopped you, ( Especially a guy like MWP ) The first thing Harden did was go to MWP once he dunked it and got in his way!

    If you see it , if he gonna get the ball why is he in the other side.. he coulda gotten free and got, but NO he goes and tries to guard MWP early… Harden knows its his fault

  4. LakersFan says:

    Lakers ALL THE WAY! The haters are depressed people.

  5. Nbafaninsc says:

    Those days are gone…now they area bunch of clowns, psychos and drama queens.

  6. AUSSIENBAFAN says:

    Wow talk about tall poppy syndrome, the fakers mmmmm last i checked they where the second most sucsessful NBA franchise of all time.

    This team hase done it before ,so never right of champions (just a thought).

    So justplayball we all know that haters are just gonna hate regardless of reality.

  7. Chris says:

    I laughed so hard when I saw Artest hit Harden in the head with his elbow – Mostly because when I suffered a severe head injury (I was clothes-lined while attempting a slam-dunk attempt, suffered from a severe whiplash on my driveway from the fall, fractured my skull 7-inches with internal bleeding that led to Emergency Brain Surgery) I got right back up and screamed for 5 minutes from the Excruciating pain!
    On the other hand, James Harden just lied there like a BABY, who needed sympathy…. LOL~!

  8. E.Reeves says:

    Dumb move by Ron. He should be fined in suspended. But nobody can deny that the lakers deserve this win because they didnt give up. If Jordan Hill and Ebanks continue to play how they did against the thunder I think they got a chance to go to the western conference finals.

  9. DAVID says:

    World Peace needs to be suspended for the rest of this season including the playoffs. Time after time he has continued his over-aggressive dirty play. Stern needs to make him pay.

  10. The thing about the playoffs is you never know whos going to show up you can win alot of regular season games and can lose in the first round, to me its all about who gets hot at the right time and takes it.

  11. ddddd says:

    What is hangtime and the Lakers without a heavy dose of drama in cyberspace…..

    With that being said… MWP overdid that one big time. No question. However in the west the Thunder have been the team to beat all season with the spurs ever so quietly flying under the radar to keep in step with them. Kobe is still Kobe though and Barnes is more than adequate to take MWP’s spot. Sessions is both the key and the wildcard in anything the lakers do. No predictions in the west yet at this point!

  12. give me a break says:

    btw, once again kobe showed the intangibles of his game.. a regular season record is one thing, but if this lakers team gets it together in the playoffs, i see many hating mouths completely shut very soon…. never underestimate the purple and gold heart, thats why we got so many championships!!

  13. give me a break says:

    the league is mad soft these days. metta did what he had to do. james harden always tryna get under people’s skin, especially after crowding my man ron ron world peace during his celebration. go away idiot, the guy is playing defense why crowd him for? smh, so he got a big weener sandwich to his big melon. stop making this a huge deal. 2 game suspension tops. let metta play and stop with the draconian nba rules, they only make the game annoying.

  14. Salmal13king says:

    I have one philosophy regarding the playoffs. Its called the post season for a reason, you have to have somone whocan score with there back to the bucket, the thunder dont have it, they will lose.

  15. NBAfan says:

    OK…elbowing Harden was stupid and ridiculous and deserves suspension.

    BUT….Harden had no business bodying Metta while he celebrates. If it was the NFL, and a defender does that while someone celebrates for a touchdown…you know something is gonna go down.

    I’m not defending Metta…but do you think that he would go SEEK Harden and elbow him if Harden hadn’t instigated it by interrupting his celebration so disrespectfully? HARDEN TOOK ONE FOR THE TEAM….and now the Lakers are weaker.

    Remember when Blake was taunting Pau on the ground? What if Bynum bodied him during that? What do you think will happen? Blake was emotionally charged at that time.

  16. christy says:

    just because metta did that ( it was reely wrong) doesnt mean that all you haters should be bagging on the lakers. one player doesnt define a team! anything can happen in the playoffs so dont be surprised if the spurs exit the first or second round or if the lakers make it to the western conference final. every team is capable of pulling off anything in the playoffs.

  17. pat forbes says:

    I know that there are a lot of Laker haters but to say that the Lakers got lucky after being down by as many as 18 points is just ridiculous!!! The Lakers win against OKC shows that they still have the skill to win against a good team. I don’t think the Lakers will win this year because they have too many issues to work out but…you never know!!!!

  18. Michael Joe Dan says:

    Kobe and the Lakers are going down come playoffs! Ranking of the greatest sgs;

    1. Mj
    2. Mj
    3. Mj
    4. Mj
    5. Mj
    6. Mj
    7. Mj
    8. Mj
    9. Mj
    10. Kobe

    Not even close Kobe!

    • NBAfan says:

      So he’s second best after the greatest player of all time? Can’t complain about that…

      • Pau Ahn says:

        hahah thats so funny and true just love the lakers haters keep talking and pissing them off if your a Kevin Durant fan (he is a great player) must be a child upset thinking OKC is invincible and just looked weaker by Kobesque how the hell they have that many opportunities to win and Kobe just comes through and make smart decisons (like to Blake for the 3) and dont hate on Kobe its his job to take the shots and try to bring a team back alone unlike OKC has 3 ppl to do that (KD Westbrook and Harden) even though last game they had 2) If they knew Kobe was gonna do it why didnt they just triple team way that is why OKC are still kids and need to make smarter decision on when to double or not. Feel bad for Sefolosha

    • rich says:

      what an idiot! you could at least grow up and come up with ten different names fool! what are you? ten years old?

  19. Just sayin says:

    I love how every time the Lakers beat an elite team, people do nothing but try to trash them as much as possible. The Lakers made a great comeback against a great team! So when you people start giving them some credit, then maybe i can respect your opinion! Stop crying every time the Lakers beat your team! And the blog about MWP is on another page by the way! This is the incorrect blog for that!

  20. laker fan says:

    lakers played 2 starters for most of the 4th and both overtimes against thunders 4 starters and still managed to get the win. enough said!

  21. Canadian says:

    Ron should be suspended and fined for sure!
    As far as the WC goes- it is anyone’s take. Any team that makes it into the off season has actually a good chance to win. Thunder- too many jump shots and you can not Win a championship with that plus a few 3-pointers. Spurs might win it too, they are not that bad and are playing with a championship heart. I still will not write LA off. It looks like Brown is still trying to figure out something, on the OKC- he played the 4th Qtr and 2 OTS with 2 starters and Bench yet he produced some results. I will say write LA off at your own risk. Dallas did not play well last year and WON it- the problem with Playoffs is that Teams start afresh- Best of 8 and you are through. Win ugly and you Won-!! SO I can not pick any team for the Wild West but for sure OKC can not WIn It – that I can say!

  22. J says:

    Jeez guys get over it, there have been plenty of hard fouls this season(Kevin Love, Blake Griffin) Metta should just get a 1-2 game suspension nothing more and nothing less. Anyone who calls for a month or season suspension is an irrational laker hater. If anything the Thunder learned the hard way, that the’re going to have to play very physical if they want to win it all.

  23. yhame says:

    lets just wait for the playoffs to start and wait until what happens.
    it is interesting to see the thunder facing the mavs for the first round.
    post season game is not about running and scoring, its about execution especially in the
    last 2min of the game were all the games will be close.i think any thunder opponent will
    accept durant taking step back 3s late in the game rather than harden and westbrook
    driving to basket to create their shots.
    playoffs are coming cant wait to watch all the teams throwing hard fouls to each other..
    look out for the memphis they are the dark horse in this division..

  24. jovdelmar says:

    For Spurs, have great opportunity this season to win the championship, look at how well they are playing. Opposing team has to really control the tempo to throw the Spurs off their groove.

    For OKC, people who have no clue about nba / basketball will simply say they lost to LA because they miss Harden. Let me tell you something, OKC is mostly a jump shooting team that is why they will have drought performances where shot wont go in and in some nights it’ll cost them the game like last night against LA.

    For LA, big future ahead of them with Bynum developing. < but thats "developing" not "developed" so no championship for them this season.

  25. Durantula says:

    Ron was reckless but harden was instigating the situation. He does this all the time. Last year against dallas he did the exact thing against tyson chandler (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBLxh2uXpEE&feature=player_embedded). Nundging against the player and get ready to flop when they react. This time he didn’t need to flop n metta should be suspended 5 games, but nothing ridiculous.

  26. You Lakers fan trying to defend Metta’s actions are simply ridiculous. Metta wound up his elbow to make sure that he hit Harden in the head. Some of you idiots say that since Harden was standing next to Metta that Metta was justified in hitting him. How would any of you like to taste my elbow? I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t be defending Metta’s actions.

    That elbow was vicious and uncalled for. This is the NBA, not the UFC. If I caught any of you with an elbow to the head like Metta did to Harden, I guarantee that none of you would talking such nonsense. At least in the UFC, you expect to be hit with elbow strikes. You might even expect to catch an elbow during a rebound attempt, but not when you are simply waiting to inbound the ball.

    Metta isn’t the best player on the Lakers by far, but he is an awesome defender. I guarantee you that losing Metta for the rest of the season is going to hurt the Lakers big time. Let’s see if throwing that elbow was really worth it…after the Lakers get bounced.

  27. Fan says:

    Has anyone taken notice that this is happening way too much with the Lakers? It seems to me that they are trying to eliminate the competition because they cannot win on pure talent alone. Not to mention the preferrential treatment they get from the officials. JJ Barea was tearing it up last year in the playoffs and they tried to “take him out” I believe it was the same with Harden. If Harden had stayed in that game there is no doubt in my mind tha the Thunder wins. The Lakers had not beaten the Thunder any this season (sans the game yesterday) I believe the lakers know they are no longer championship material and they are going to do whatever it takes to win games/championship. Even if it means hurting other players. Pure talent won’t get it done for the Lakers apparently.

  28. LAKERS FAN says:

    After seeing the replays over and over again.. Artest should be suspended in my opinion. I’m not trying to be biased, but it didnt seem like it was intentional. He looked really heated up after that amazing dunk and just wanted to celebrate, but unfortunately his elbow hit Harden and he has to take responsibility for what he did and be more aware of where other players are. I hope Harden is okay because the outcome of that game would have been alot different if that had not happened. I dont know if Harden approached and bumped MWP on purpose but he did bump into Artest and Artest probably just wanted to shove him away. Another reason to believe that it wasant intentional is that MWP NEVER LOOKED BACK, he only knew HARDEN was there and couldnt have seen where his neck/face was. I think a 5-10 game suspension should be good enough seeing he has seem like he changed himself ever since the Palace Incident. I also agree that the LAKERS usually get the benefit of the calls. Like a poster had already said, Sepholosha wasant even close to stepping out of bounds and the refereee was right in front of him looking down too. That being said, even if the LAKERS get lucky.. they are making their shots and still win games.

  29. wayne says:

    The irony of Spurs home court advantage is that they have won 18 of their last 21 on the road and rested the big three in two of those losses. No one has mentioned that the Spurs beat Memphis 4 – 0 in the season series, including after Zac Randolph returned and Rudy Gay played all 4.. Ginobli missed 3 of the 4.

  30. Mike says:

    OKC is a good team but somehow they still need a post up player. Perkin is kinda slow and clumsy. I saw some games when both WB and Durant are cold, they don’t know waht to do. Their bench aren’t that great lately. DC kept shooting air ball one after another. Fisher isn’t that efficient up tpo date, hopefully that will change when time matter the most. Harden’s recovery will be very crucial for them in the playoff

  31. mike says:

    haha the elbow replay is soo funny..harden will get more in the future!! blake griffin!

  32. jordan 7189 says:

    haha laker haters thunder will not go any further than semifinals theyll run into spurs or lakers and get beat by the better veteran team complain all you want about how you didnt have james harden thunder wont win nothing!!! lakers will beat spurs in western finals its not even the playoffs and you laker haters counting out lakers they owned memphis and denver this season they couldnt beat lakers excuses excuses lakers get bad calls from refs to refs dont give games away to all you cryin nba fans

    • HeatFan27 says:

      I think that the Thunder can beat the Lakers easily. It is mostly likely to be a Durant vs Kobe shootout which Durant will win. Lakers will get the semis then lose. As for the Spurs, I don’t know because they did well last season and lost in the first round so I have no idea.

  33. Jackal says:

    Also. . .the Lakers aren’t contenders this year. They lost Odom, who was their biggest ace in the hole. Nobody had an answer for him off the bench, and nobody could deal with all 3 of their bigs on the floor at once. Now, there are multiple teams with big enough frontcourts to take them down including SA with Duncan and Splitter who destroyed them in their last 2 meetings. Bynum even quit on the floor the last game. Duncan emasculated him on national tv. Bynum had that great 30 rebound game, too bad it was exposed as a fluke since he choked and averaged just 4.5 in the two games against SA after that.

    At least LA got into the record books, being two of the teams SA blew out to tie the record for most consequtive 20+ point blowout victories. And yeah, SA did that too. They only didn’t set the record because the Cavs came back in garbage time to cut it to 16 last night. And that streak of games even included a back to back to back, with an @LA in it, and also included another game against LA just 2 nights later.

    OKC isn’t going anywhere either. They were lucky to get to the WCF since the Grizzlies knocked off an injured Spurs team for them. Should SA have been healthy, it would’ve been a Dallas/SA WCF instead. OKC still needs experience and maturation. But the silver lining is that they know how good they can be when they look back at this season. So the future is still bright for the Thunder. it just isn’t going to be bright this summer.

    • Lakers Fan Since 1990 says:

      In the Grizzlies’ defense, they beat the Spurs last year without Rudy Gay . . .

  34. Jackal says:

    Spurs are as dangerous as their health. 100% Spurs = can beat any team in the NBA. Worst matchup for the Spurs is the Bulls. I don’t think they match up that poorly against anyone in the west this time. Grizzlies lost Arthur who was a huge advantage. Now it’s just Gasol and Zbo, whom either can be contained by Timmy, and Pop is now not shy to play Splitter with Timmy which has proven to be effective already against big frontcourts. I’m thinking WCF at minimum for SA, and right now they’re at least at 40% for chances to get to the Finals. Title? I’m not sure, but they’ve been the best team in the west for nearly 3 months straight and they haven’t slowed down. They’ve just gotten better. Scary thing is, I don’t think they’ve peaked yet.

    Jackson still hasn’t fit in, Mills only just came over, and Leonard is getting better by the day.

  35. wayne says:

    Think the Thunder are still the pick in the west? Consider: They have lost 6 in April. The Spurs have won 18 of their last 20 and rested Parker, Duncan, Ginoble in one of those losses. Averaged 115 points per game in the last 7. Won the last four by 21, 21, 25, and 16. Duncan has played a career low of 28 minutes per game this season and still averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds. Bring those average minutes up to 36 a game ( as we can expect in the playoffs) and you’re looking at 20 and 11. Oh yeah, and they beat the Lakers by 21 and 24 points home and away in the same week

    • NBAfan says:

      yeah man…the Spurs, as they always do every other year or so…are looking very threatening. Gotta love Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili.

  36. Spurned says:

    LOL @ people saying the mighty spurs are old, hence won’t go far. Firstly, i am aware of last year, but we faced a very strong/determined Grizz team who caught us off guard. This year will be different, with the probability of facing the Jazz in the first round, that SHOULD be a sweep. Secondly, i would not discount the Lakers, as much as i hate them, Kobe is the games best closer and they always find a way to show up in the playoffs (obviously not last year since Dirk played almost god like). I’m predicting a Spurs/Lakers WCF match with the Spurs to beat Miami in the finals, and Timmy D to finally get that 5rh ring.

    • 16going417 says:

      I like the way you think. I would only “like” to change your scenario from Spurs to the Lakers with Kobe winning his 6th ring.

      Yes, I know, keep dreaming LOL. Lakers are a great team, but something is still missing and I’m not sure they have what it takes to win a championship this year. Sessions pulled a Westbrook yesterday and could not get it done during crunch time and Blake had to fill in for him. Even Jordan Hill had to fill in for Bynum. What does that say about the Lakers?????? A 3rd stringer filling in for an All Star AND getting the job DONE. Sad, Sad, Sad Bynum………, But GREAT job Jordan Hill!!!!!

      I’m a Lakers fan, but I’m also a realist and I don’t play “fantasy” basketball. I just call it like I see it.

    • TEG says:

      couldn’t agree more with that! although, I still think it might be Thunder/Spurs in the WCF

  37. gameon says:

    The Thunder are one trick ponies, Just like Charles Barkley said they shoot too many dang jump shots and you live and DIE by jump shots. They need a better post presence and Perkins and Ibaka need to step up offensively. This loss destroyed some confidence so it is going to be interesting to see what the future holds for the Thunder I can say that they WILL not be the Western Conference Champs.

    • NBAfan says:

      I agree. They are not balanced. They are young, and explosive and they can beat anybody if they’re on their game..but the Spurs and the Lakers are more balanced. The Heat is not balanced (no post presence), but the Bulls are. The clippers are not balanced as well (no outside threat), the Grizzlies are more balanced than the Clippers or the Heat…but Gasol is injured isn’t he?

      • HeatFan27 says:

        I will agree that the Heat aren’t a balanced team. We need a centre that can either defend the post well or Bosh needs to dominate the post. However, the Clippers have a outside threat in Paul.

  38. Cody says:

    What Ron Artest did was horrible and completely unforgivable. I’m a Lakers fan and I want him suspended for at least the first round. Both teams shot the ball at a child’s pace through the first 2 and the Thunder caught their stride in the 3rd. However in the quarter that matters the most Mamba and the Lakers did what they had to do, and the Thunder did what they know how to do all too well this season which is turn the ball over in key situations. I don’t care if Harden was out, the Lakers lost a key player as well in that situation and it was up to the other players on the Thunder team to step up and get it done. They didn’t and Ebanks and Hill did. If the Thunder want to win a championship they have to become harder than this and not let the lose of your sixth man affect a game that you should have easily run away with. Don’t be surprised if the Thunder are taken out by a lower seed that has more heart and determination than themselves and Russel Westbrick.

  39. ktrance says:

    d irony of Metta World Peace giving a cheap blow …. how metta and peaceful !

  40. Cesar says:

    I agree with Ricki 100% people are forgetting that the thunder key players are under 25 they are still learning and they held the 1 spot in western conference for alomst the entire season and which I think the west is a tougher division. they blow out chicago without Rose by like 30..the heat lost to chicago without Rose..

  41. to Kobesteam says:

    Hey, dude, you really need to calm down. I agree that Lakers is a great team and may go far in the playoffs, but there’s just no way to justify that elbow-punch to Harden. It was a sick and brutal foul, that could have caused significant damage. Even if Harden provoked MWP, he should be able to control himself better, because that kind of brutality just has no place in basketball. Also, the accusations against Ibaka are completely absurd! What should he have done then? Just stood by, when his friend and teammate got KO’d??

  42. Ricki says:

    I think the Thunder is still the team to beat in the West and I think they will make it to the Finals. The Clippers are really not that great. They have Chris Paul and that is it. So if Chris Paul has a bad night, they will lose. All Blake Griffin can do is dunk. The Lakers are also not great. Lets start with Kobe. Kobe is old! Bynum is too immature. If you watched him on the bench as the Lakers were making a run, he was not cheering his team on or anything. Gasol is too soft. Everyone one else is pretty much average. Memphis is a good team but they do not know how to close games. San Antonio is also good, but are old. The Thunder had a bad game and the Lakers still barely won. Just think if Harden, KD, and Westbrook were on, the Lakers would have killed the Lakers. The only teams that will probably give them trouble is Memphis and the Spurs. Other than that, count on them being in the Finals!!

    • 16going417 says:

      You make valid points. I’m a Lakers fan and would love to see them compete for a championship, but they do have too many issues.

      It is not that Kobe is old, but he has not been consistent this year. Chalking it up to father time or injuries is up to you.

      I agree Bynum is WAY immature. He is like a 5 year old kid. When things are going well he is happy, but sit him on the bench for jacking up a 3 or for playing without aggression and watch him sit on the bench with an attitude. He is all about himself rather than the team at this stage in his career. Too bad because he could be great if he would only adjust his attitude.

      Gasol’s problem is always expects the refs to bail him out. He learned this from Lamar Odom who would ALWAYS scream “And One” after a shot. Now Gasol would rather scream and then stare at the refs when a foul is not called rather than getting back on defense. I do not know how many transition points are scored by the other team because Gasol would rather complain rather than getting back on “D.”

      I also think it will come down to SA and OKC. However, wisdom and experience will always beat youth and inexperience. I could care less about the East, so hopefully whoever comes out of the West wins it all.

      • Sam says:

        Couldn’t agree more with you… Wish the OKC or Spurs to take it all the way…
        Lakers fan though

  43. Oz says:

    Are you ready? Wait for it……THE LAKERS GOT LUCKY!!! They trailed with home-court advantage, knocked out a key OKC player, and still allowed OKC to get the last shots and good looks at that from Durant and Westbrook in the fourth quarter and the 1st overtime. Kobe can’t have this kind of game 4 times in the play offs against OKC, he’ll be lucky to get 2 like this.

  44. kiwisepp says:

    Why did West brook have to take so many ill-advised shoots.

    • captainart7 says:

      Sir, he has always done this. Why are you surprise?

      • justplayball says:

        ….Sire, thou shalt watch no further than the first round of this upcoming joust…..enjoy your summer waiting to see who the fakers buy this off season….!!!

      • NBAfan says:

        You’re just insane Francisco aka justplayball aka no-matter-how-many-times-you-change-your-name-your-obvious?

        The comment was about Westbrook and you somehow spread your Laker hate? What a decisively irrelevant comment full of nothing but hatred.

        Sekou…I know the more comments there are the better, but this is pre-meditated flaming….no more, no less.

        Westbrook is physically gifted. Sometimes he’s on…sometimes he’s off. No matter what, he thinks he can do the impossible and he takes ill-advised shots. The shortened season has been a grind. When people get cold, it’s more pronounced since more games are played in less time. When people get hot, the same thing.

  45. Kobesteam says:

    Obviously (MWP 10 GAME SUSPENSION), U R a LAKERS HATER… So much so that u have lost all objectivity… How can U discount a team which has such a storied history in this sport… 5 times a Champions in recent years; and possessing the 2nd most Championships in the sport overall…

    Sure there is, and always has been DRAMA in HOLLYWOOD… I suspect there always will be GREAT ENTERTAINMENT from the Entertainment Capital of the WORLD… And make no mistake about it, the LAKERS are a BIG PART of what makes this so….

    They are fabulous, flamboyant & EXTREMELY TALENTED… Always have been & always will be… It’s this kind of a town, & they are that kind of a TEAM… They have many individual STARS, each of whom, can carry the Team to VICTORY on any given day…

    HARDEN provoked this incident, in as much as he approached METTA with both hands balled into fist, while making un-explained body contact, leaning & pushing on him… The play was over, METTA had scored & was celebrating it in his own (HOLLYWOOD) (HEART-JERKING) way, as he headed back down court… HARDEN interfered with METTA during this celebration, as if he (HARDEN) was appointed by someone to break it up…

    He had no reason approaching METTA in this way, at this time, as the play was O V E R…

    METTA probably re-acted automatically in self-defense, and without malice since he was obviously finished celebrating and was beginning to race back up-court for more basketball related actions… Then IBAKA challenged him… AGAIN, METTA squared off in a defensive stance when IBAKA charged him, but was held back by his (OKLAHOMA) teammates… IBAKA charged METTA… METTA never charged him…

    Why do u & so many others completely over-look OKLA’S instigation & participation in this incident???????

    Had HARDEN & IBAKA not instigated this thing, absolutely nothing would have taken place… The OKLAHOMA THUNDERS were the one’s playing the more PHYSICAL BALL… All the commentators kept saying this over & over… The THUNDERS were doing all the bumping, pushing & fouling… The FREE-THROW totals will prove which was the more PHYSICAL & AGGRESSIVE TEAM…

    AGAIN U count HARDEN as a difference maker for OKLAHOMA, without giving any credit to METTA for both his OUTSTANDING DEFENSE & newly regained OFFENSE… METTA is truly the DIFFERENCE-MAKER…

    I believe you need to take another look at the tapes, reconsidering that incident, the total game & your speculations about the NBA FINALS… The Los Angeles LAKERS must be counted as a MAJOR PLAYER this year, and will most likely win the LARRY OBRIEN once again…

    Especially, if METTA can get back into the game….

    • Mike says:

      Nice try kid! are you a friend of Most Worthless Player?? You probably have mental issue too!

    • NorthPole says:

      LOL…”Ibaka charged him” poor MWP… that is one of the most “objective” post I ever read…LOL

    • sbfern805 says:

      I completely agree!! why would harden charge Metta this way… watch the replay people…dont judge the outcome….see what provokes it and how it developed!!! Metta swings as any of you would if you dont want to be touched or shoved by someone you dont like. I play soccer all the time and my mind i dont want to send anyone to the hospital but if someone provokes me, i will definitely swing back. Oneal’s and Barkleys fight was way worse, Oneal was lucky enough to miss his swing cause that would have knocked Barkley down big time…. But people who DO play sports, think how you would have reacted if someone body contacted you when they had no reason to ( I would have elbowed the player to, but on the arm or back). Just saying…

      • sbfern805 says:

        plus Metta’s hit was complete a bad aim….He didnt even see harden when he swung. this swing was not malicious!!! But if you judge the outcome, ok then suspend him….

      • HeatFan27 says:

        Ok lets get one thing straight. Harden was walking back to his own basket. He simply continued his line and bumped into MWP. He probably should have moved but MWP was in the wrong. Harden didn’t “charge” him. It was mostly stupidity from MWP.

      • MWP = MostWorthlessPlayer says:

        You play soccer and that matters why? No wonder you are on here making these stupid comments; you don’t even understand the rules of basketball.

      • sbfern805 says:

        hahaha!!! its funny how you guys get mad when someone posts a comment you dont agree with… I can just imagine how you would react when someone is physically there and gets under your skin… say you would mostlikely pull a Metta World on them… Me playing soccer does not mean i do not know about Basketball…I watch basketball all the time and i know the rules i dont play it because im 5’8″ and simply am not that good as others… But i mentioned that i play soccer only to show that i know what a player goes through when there is too much adrenaline… I have felt times where i wish i can just smack a player who got under my skin, but thats only a wish…there is never that actual wish to hurt them permanently. If you guys dont agree. its fine but tell me why, dont insult…

    • KindaLikeTheHeatles says:

      One word: BIASED

      • Sam says:

        I too think that MWP didn’t start this first. Harden shouldn’t have approached him while there is no need. The outcome was worse unfortunately for MWP. He needs to be punished for that, but it was mere bad luck for MWP.
        Wish Harden to recover fast…

    • NBAfan says:

      I will not even pretend to have read your post. The high number of caps suggests you are a Laker fan with a lot of mental issues. I think the Lakers will beat neither Denver nor Memphis in the 1st Round despite their homecourt advantage and if they manage that they will face either the Spurs or the Thunder and that will be an automatic exit for the Lakers. So please stop with your delusion of the Lakers winning the title this year.

      And by the way, the refs have given at least 5 games to the Lakers this year:
      The first game against Denver, Galinari is shoved on the final play on a fastbreak layup attempt, he missed and the refs didn’t call a foul.
      At Toronto the Raptors couldn’t inbound on the final play and called timeout and the ref standing next to the inbounding player looks away, pretends he doesn’t see the timeout call and suddenly calls a five second violation.
      At the game in Minnesota on the final Laker possesion Pau Gasol traveled 3 times, 2 times he did a Chachacha dance move on the floor, then Kobe runs over Rubio who tore his ACL. It was called a block when clearly it was a charge.
      The last game vs Dallas in overtime they counted Barnes putback even though he was out of bounds on the play and one possession later Barnes guides in a threepointer from Gasol which is clearly offensive interference and the refs didn’t call anything on either play and gave the Lakers 5 points that should not have counted.
      Last Night Sefelosha got a steal from Kobe with 1:45 to go in the 4th quarter. He had a fastbreak layup and the referee Gary Zalinski blows his whistle and claims he stepped out of bounds and the replay they showed seconds later proved his foot was at least 5cm away from the line. Instead of OKC going up by four Kobe hits a three and gives the Lakers the 1 point lead.

      • MWP = MostWorthlessPlayer says:

        I saw that play too with the steal by Sefelosha and he was not out of bounds. What lets me know even more that it was a fixed call is because they showed one angle where he was clearly in, then they wouldn’t replay it. They just kept showing the main view that made it look like he could be out of bounds.

    • justplayball says:

      ….this is a competitive sport AND entertainment…… entertainment: NO rules…. just check the headlines for how many”entertainers” end up incarcerated…… lala fakers are Very much entertainers ….. if you like b-movies…..PS: As to “Metta”…. that is not a name and he Will always be the ill tempered R. Artest……. and he Should be suspended for the rest of the year —(or better yet…life) ’cause he is supposed to be on a short lease after his earlier meltdowns…….. Probably,…..he should just be what he really is …. just Another BAD actor in the land of make believe!!

    • ThreeFourSeven says:

      Players run into each other all the time after a play is done so I don’t get your point. If you watch this video and say it wasn’t intentional. Your ignorant.

  46. Joy says:

    for those who say that elbows, kicks and other dirty movements are part of the game, let me tell you something: you should be in te same jail with artest. Basketball is not wresling, boxing or something like that, if you have seen a basketball game, you should see nobody is wearing helmet, or any armor to protect their physical integrity against elbows ’cause are ILLEGAL and every punk like stokton, malone or artest should be severely penalized in order to avoid professional athletes from stupid injuries

    • 16going417 says:

      I agree with you, but when you have a pregame show where Magic Johnson says the Lakers need to put a “HIT” on the Thunder like D-Wade put a hit on the Bulls, what does that tell you about the mentality of players in the NBA and what they feel they must do in order to win?

      This type of play started when McHale put that hit on Rambis back in the 80’s. Why do you think rules such as no hand checking and flagrant fouls have been implemented? Basketball is a physical sport and they should not try to intentionally hurt each other, but these guys go out and try to intimidate each other through physical play every night. It’s the intensity of the physical play that determines if it’s acceptable or not.

      • Joy says:

        you got your answer in your own comment when you say phisical play, i mean: the ball wasn´t yet inside the court, MWP wasn´t tryin to stop Harden´s race to the basket, even Hardens not facing him or teasing or at least defendin him so why threw that kind of violent and treacherous punch? just for his excitement like he apologizes?

      • My Two Cents says:

        i rlly dont think MWP meant to do this. just look at the replay-harden was literally poking him in the neck! I mean, seriously, he wasnt even looking at his direction. everyones bitching on him just b/c of his past

    • sbfern805 says:

      WEAK!!! I know exactly what happened and after you read this post look at the review again and you will see i am right. Now i am not defending Artest on the hit, but that hit should not have been as bad as it turned out to be..

      Ok after the Artest dunk who has the ball? THunder right? why in the world would Harden come to Artest and “Nudge” him when he has to get free got get the ball? Artest pounds his chest with right arm and as he gets ready to pound his chest with his left arm, Harden shows him a little shove and as a reaction from Artest is elbowing him ( thre is no denying he wanted to elbow Harden) but it was supposed to be aimed to Hardens arm or back…NOT THE BACK OF HIS HEAD. you see to hit someone that precisely you have to see and measure them up. Artest was not even looking at harden when he swung. Now i hope Harden is ok and nothing serious happens but he in a way asked for that hit. Second suppose Artest hits Harden on the Arm instead of the back of the head, would you want to punish him the same way? Now sure suspend him for as many games you think he deserves, I AM ok with that, he deserves it for being unlucky and not having good aim, but i know he did not do this completely on purpose.

      • Jack says:

        VERY ignorant comment showing that your attention to detail is nonexistant. Artest felt Harden’s entire body from the contact. He intentionally RAISED the level of his elbow swing because he knew where Harden’s head was. All decent basketball players learn to know exactly where a defender is positioned from body contact. One of the league’s best defenders…..YEAH he knew.

      • BelizeBoy says:

        You moron. Harden was waiting for the ball to come in bounds…LIKE HE IS SUPPOSED TO DO! Why in the world would you elbow a player for nudging you (as you put it)?

      • justplayball says:

        ……you are blind as you biased…….eat ****

      • MWP = MostWorthlessPlayer says:

        Laker fans are such hypocrites. They cry about Griffin dunking on Gasol and say he should be fined or suspended. Now when their team is in the spotlight they act as if it’s part of the game.

      • Joy says:

        probably you have not seen that old play when that punk called karl mAlone “unintentionally” hit the head of David Robinson then the admiral fell knocked down dramatically. Not just his carrer but his life was in danger just because some kind of wrestler was trying to intimidate him. there´s no apologize to try to harm someone intentionally because there is no reason to lift the elbows at head level when the ball is away from you

  47. Cord says:

    Never underestimate the power of Kobe, the Black Mamba always finds a way to rise. The Thunder continues to have problems closing tight games and it will be their downfall in the playoffs. Otherwise, this team has no weaknesses.

    • justplayball says:

      …….lol…..lol…..lol…. give me a break………. Here’s a thought ….How would you like to see the ‘mamba’……. say in….. NY or NJ/NY ….. Could happen you know….. they have played better without him than with him alot of the time this year….. that’s what happens when the rest of the players actually feel like an integral part of the “Team” and not just ‘someone to play on the Kobester’s team or just someone to ‘rest the “best player in the league”‘….. just sayin’….

  48. Marco says:

    Sekou, why is it that you always post some garbage after an elite team lose….do you at any point realize that perhaps you’re just cranking out articles that say nothing… teams are elite, are good, should win games….i agree, but i do not think its necessarily to write an article pointing out problems on why they lost …….. its not like if the charlotte won an article is written out to explain its amazing tactical plays to pull it through….(this of course excludes if charlotte does manage to pull out one final win because im sure an article will be written) … its really to the point that articles have become predictable, and useless b/c theres just soo many over no particular reason. Lakers win against a tough team, and an article will be out saying how their bench stepped up, how they’re cohesiveness they are etc…. Articles used to have value, a purpose over an issue …. perhaps its not your fault, perhaps there is a problem with the system and you are just trying to meet quantifiable demands?

    • BelizeBoy says:

      Great comment!

    • justplayball says:

      …..Hey Marko…..this just in ….. fakers are NOT an elite team anymore…….. live with it. Just ’cause they get tons of press from the bball talking heads doesn’t mean anything….. Maybe they are tied with another over-hyped team(celtics) for 6th best in the league ……. none too ‘Elite’….. lucky to get to the next round this year

    • phillip says:

      Usual topics are Heat, Lakers, Knicks and thats about it

  49. MWP 10 Game Suspension says:

    Well, last night revealed how valuable a James Harden really is to the Thunder. That guy could have organized the Thunders second units offense and created quality shots for himself and others. In late game situation he is always out there to close the game along Durant and Westbrook. He will be the 6th Man this year and deserves it.

    Durant had the chance to win the game but he chose to do the same thing he did all season. He doesn’t like to drive and always takes a 3 point shot. If he hits people call him clutch, if he misses no one loses any word about it. I think he is a great player but I don’t think he should take the step back 3 to win the game especially when the game is tied and they do not need a three.

    Anyway, can’t wait till the playoffs start, best part of every season for sure. I can’t see the Clippers reach the Western Finals, but Memphis, San Antonio, Denver and the Thunder have a good shot to do so. Dallas biggest strength from last season, winning on the road, is nearly gone and I don’t see them upsetting 2 teams. The Lakers will take an early exit in my book, there is too much drama in Hollywood. I hope the Spurs can represent the West in the end, they played great all season and have a lot of depth.

    • captainart7 says:

      Your book needs a lot of work. I suggest a few more years of watching the game closely with some one that knows the game. Unless you are prepared to bet your house, wife, girlfriend and bank account, you should not give opinion on what the play offs hold. Every one has an opinion and it means nothing unless you have a track record of winning. Charles B. has an opinion and every year he picks his picks, runs his mouth and his wrong. Someone did the percentage on him and claims Charles was right only 28% of the time. Don’t ask me, I have no idea how he arrived at that but he sounds about right.

      • justplayball says:

        lakers out in 1st rnd …. they don’t playas a team enough of the time — tooo much 1 on 1…….. and the namechanger needs to find new employment…. he is NOT representative of the NBA….. should’ve Never let this thug back in the league….. when will enough be Enough!!!

    • captainart7 says:

      Your book is no good. Every one has an opinion. I believe a few more years of watching the game with some one that really knows the game and you may learn something. Your Thunders just lost. Never mind coming up with excuses, leave that to the Miami Heats and ESPN. I like the team, don’t really care for Westbrook, but the Lakers had a really bad game, bad shooting night, and they still could not but them away. I don’t see the Thunders going deep into the play offs. LOL.

      • justplayball says:

        …been ‘watchin games’ and oh yeah …Actually going to games since ’77 , so is my ‘opinion’ worth anything when it conflicts with ‘your opinion’ ?? fakers got Another of their hundreds of cheapies and can’t play cohesively as a team very well anymore…… looks like its time for big Buss to try and go out and buy some other teams best player like they Almost got away with before the year started ’cause Pau-Pau can’t get it done……. they won’t make it out of the first round…..that is my ‘opinion’…..go figure

    • QuestionMark says:

      The media has to jump on something that really isn’t that big, everyone occasionally misses clutch shots, Durant has hit a ton of clutch shots this season, he just happened to miss this one, but agreed, if the game is tied, then Durant or Westbrook should just drive and get fouled or make a layup or a jumpshot, if it comes to needing a 3pt shot, then Durant can hit it. Even though Durant missed this one, it was a good shot and he had enough space to hit it but unfortunately it missed.

    • Amitpal says:

      U might be watching basketball since 77 but it sounds like u’ve been watching with closed eyes. I agree about durant shooting a three, but what most people don’t get is durant is a shooter. Not a scorer but a really good shooter like ray Allen. He’s best coming off picks. Next u have Denver better then clippers and lakers. First chris Paul is good enough to take the clippers to the west finals and Kobe pau and Bynum record speaks for itself. They may have issues but they also have more then enough talent. U have many more mistakes but that’s to much fixing so for now right down write down these notes.

    • dattebayo says:

      You Laker fans are hilarious. Bynum is an inconsistent scorer, the only thing you get every game from him is rebounds and halfcourt defense. Pau had a solid season, but he has been better. Kobe is shooting the ball poorly for his standards. Ron Artest will not play in the first round. Barnes and Murphy are the only people producing coming off the bench. There is no Odom and Shannon Brown this year and might I remind you:

      Last season they had Bynum, Gasol and Kobe, all healthy and got SWEPT with a much better supporting cast and Phil Jackson as a coach.

      I am not saying they won’t win a playoff game, but I don’t see them winning 4 games against Denver. The Lakers transition defense is not good and they have no depth to compete with Denvers 2nd unit. In Artest they have lost their best defender, can Barnes guard Galinari as good, no. Maybe you should take a page out of my book and watch some Denver games and see what awaits you:

      A 1st Round Exit in the Playoffs