McHale To Parsons And A Big Bounce

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HOUSTON – This is why Chandler Parsons plays basketball. It’s really why they all play the game.

To have fun.

And there are few things more fun on the court than playing without pressure, without a care, without fear of missing a shot or making a play and with a sense that it’s just your time.

“We’re fully confident that we’re gonna win tomorrow and that we’re gonna take the series,” Parsons said matter-of-factly on Thursday as he stood outside the locker room at the Toyota Center, his eyes dancing, almost bright enough to light the entire hallway.

It wasn’t a boast. It wasn’t intended to demean anyone in an Oklahoma City uniform.

It’s just the feeling that occurs when it seems that everything has suddenly turned your way. Maybe based on the last two games, it has.

History books and the oddsmakers will still tell you that Kevin Durant and the Thunder are the logical favorites to advance.

But sometimes logic doesn’t have any place in these crazy games.

It was a different team, a different time, a different Kevin McHale.


The Celtics had made one slice into what seemed like the 76ers’ insurmountable lead in the 1981 Eastern Conference finals and were going into Game 6 with a chance to tie the series.

“They better win this one, because they know damn well they’re not going to win Game 7,” said the brash 23-year-old rookie power forward.

Boston won Game 6 by two points and then finished off Philly in Game 7 by one.

So now it is 32 years later, coincidentally the uniform number that he wore on his jersey through a Hall of Fame career, and the coach McHale is approaching another Game 6 crossroad with his Rockets against the Thunder Friday night.

But in a different role.

“I was playing and had a lot more confidence back then,” McHale said. “Hey, if it was 1981 and I was still playing this series, I would say the same thing.”

Because you can’t win if you don’t believe and after the Rockets stuck a sock in the mouth of Loud City in Game 5, there is no shortage of faith.

It’s the dynamic of how a series can sometimes work. You can feel the shift, the surge of energy on one side, the planting of doubt on the other.

There were the No. 1 seed Thunder so helpless, so unable to do anything to slow down the No. 8 seed Rockets on Wednesday night that coach Scott Brooks reached into his first aid kit to find a tourniquet and the best he could do was to hack Rockets center Omer Asik and try to stop the flow.

But as happens sometimes on these occasions, the flow was like a wave that might be growing into a tsunami. Asik, a 56 percent free throw shooter, stepped up to the line to stick 8-for-11 free throws in the final six minutes and now here is OKC perhaps feeling the air getting a little thinner and the collars a bit tighter.

The last thing in the world the Thunder need is an all-or-nothing Game 7 on Sunday and all the Rockets want is a chance to walk about onto that court in OKC.

Francisco Garcia, Patrick Beverley and Parsons took turns grinning and talking about having fun. That’s not likely a word that’s been tossed around in OKC much over the past few days.

“We’re growing up every game,” Parsons said. “Every day we’re going through this process together and it can only get better from here.

“We got something really special going on right now and I think the world is starting to see it, because we didn’t get as much attention as we think we deserved during the regular season. But now the lights are on and we’re playing well and we’re really shocking people.”

The Rockets aren’t jolting anybody more than the Thunder, who figured to have a much tougher road to the NBA Finals without Russell Westbrook, but not a slog just to escape the first round of the playoffs.

Now suddenly the heavily favored Thunder are walking around as if there’s a boulder on the their backs, while the Rockets are skipping around the schoolyard.

They are a reflecting of their head coach, a personality and ethic forged on the Iron Range of Minnesota, where you work hard and never take anything too seriously. That’s why a skinny kid from Hibbing could lay down the gantlet to Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney and the mighty Sixers back in 1981. That’s why a 55-year-old coach can keep pushing and molding and instilling a sense of anything’s possible even in a season when he’s suffered the unspeakable anguish of losing a daughter.

“He’s been awesome,” Parsons said. “He’ll tell you all about his experiences when he was playing. Having a coach that’s been through it, that’s been in the same situation we’re in right now really helps us and gives us that comforting feeling that he knows what he’s talking about.

“I know it’s a serious time and we’re all focused, but he makes you feel comfortable and it’s fun to be around a guy like that instead of being uptight and yelling. He does that, too, but he’s such a nice dude.”

Thirty-two years later, McHale limps around the sidelines like an arthritic crab and is a bit more circumspect with his words.

“I could talk that way,” he said laughing, “when I was young and bouncy.”

That’s a big bounce in Chandler Parsons’ step, which is why the game has never been more fun for the Rockets and why the Thunder should be worried.

Series hub: Thunder vs. Rockets

33 Comments

  1. Lewis says:

    OKC cannot use “not having westbrook” as an excuse! That leaves OKC with one all star (also the best player in the series) vs. Hou with one all star who isn’t even having that great of a series. OKC is supposed to play like a team so hop off Durant and cheer for the TEAM, because the TEAM will win the series

  2. Matt says:

    Hey Fran,
    Nothing to do with anyone having “Fun.” Westbrook got hurt. He’s a top 10 NBA player. The Rocket players who keep saying they have something “special” going on right now need to wake up. The only “special” thing that’s happened is that Westbrook got hurt. That’s it.

  3. NBA Fan says:

    nobody today can carry a team on his back

    except for Kobe and Bill Worrell

    get it straight

  4. Rguerra0404 says:

    Kevin Durant is a new version of Tracy Mcgrady in his prime…. Look up tmac playoff stats and regular season stats in his prime. Identical !!! Just sayyin.. Go rockets!!!

    • Summit fox says:

      As a rockets fan, and someone who used to attend the playoff games when T-Mac was with us, and who is now wanting OKC to lose. Kevin Durant is not Tracy McGrady. T-Mac never got the rockets out of the 1st round of the playoffs, let alone getting them to the NBA finals. Go Rockets!!!

  5. OKC says:

    I’m going to come back and read all this trash talk after we win tonight.

  6. Erik says:

    What a bunch of OKC “Cry Baby’s”. It’s not like Beverly intentionally injured the guy, he was just going for a steal. Now their excuse is Westbrook is out, so now they have no answer to beating the “ROCKETS”. “PLEASE”. They should have won the series already with or without Westbrook. Durant even gave up in the last three min. Of the game. “GO ROCKETS”!!!!!!

    • blackfire030 says:

      Its funny they wanna say because Westbrook is out we as Rocket fans know all to well what its like to be with out both of your superstars in the line up if Yao was out it was up to McGrady and if McGrady was out it was up to Yao we never complained just took it as it was

  7. Richard says:

    Dudes, it’s the NBA! They wouldn’t be in the playoffs if they’re just “good”. Casualties are inevitable because it’s a battle going on in there.

    FUN can’t be spilled over OKC right now because, probably, Russell Westbrook was so frustrated he cannot encourage someone on their team to step up. Hoping for the best out of OKC’s bench though. Best of luck for both teams.

  8. Ray says:

    As much as I hate to admit it, KD needs to be more like Lebron and become a BAD MAN!! So Westbrooks out,so what?? It’s time for you to TAKE OVER KD!! Now is YOUR TIME!!

  9. Fran Toolbury says:

    My name is Fran Toolbury

  10. William says:

    So Durant’s actions are justified because Lin didn’t have a serious injury? The major media outlets didn’t cover it. Wow I use to like OKC as a team but this series including their fans have changed my mind. TNT showed Durant walking around and pouting on a play on offense and he’s constantly arguing calls and cussing out the opposition, I guess the pressure of being the man has finally caught up with him (no westbrook to blame). The Rockets weren’t expected to make the playoffs, the Thunder were suppose to compete for a championship, I’ll be cheering for the Rockets and the Spurs (professionalism) as my second when the Rockets eventually get beat. You won’t see Duncan, Parker or Ginnobli bitching, whining and performing cheap shots as ‘payback’.

  11. Simka says:

    LOL, KD is not Lebron who can carry team. OKC is going down

    • kenito says:

      Lebron who can carry his team?! HELL NO!!! He’s got no balls, that’s why he joined DWADE and BOSH in MIAMI .. and you’re saying that he can carry a team?!

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Lebron cant carry a team either, see his entire career before he got wade and bosh

    • Tony says:

      Kd is not LB. Lb is a coward

      • Cavs Fan says:

        bron bron is the runaway MVP candidate again… just sayin. and that’s coming from a long-time cavs fan

  12. OKC says:

    KD is going to take it on himself to win game 6. James Hardin will choke like he did in OKC.

  13. tituswu says:

    That’s right ROCKETS! Blast the Thunders off into space!!!

  14. Red says:

    So we (rockets) got the biased article, well OKC has the biased fans, got the support of NBA itself including refs, in game announcers and EVEN Barkley! Don’t believe me, check out the game replays, it’s always about OKC even Rockets won. Hear the tones of the announcers on those replays clearly against rockets and love OKC. When Westbrook got injured people got mad at Beverly, how about Durant slapping Lin and getting re-injured, no one cared because it’s KD. So give us the biased articles since the rest are OKC’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s because KD didn’t send Lin to the hospital or shifted the series by taking out the second best player on the team. Where would the Rockets be if Parsons had a meniscus tear? You’d be mad at KD like everyone is on Beverley if KD injured a Rocket and took him out for the rest of the season on a meaningless play.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      yeah because the refs were calling everything in the favor of OKC, that’s why they started the hack -asik because they were being blatantly fouled with no calls on the offensive end, and rockets were getting every touch foul in the book, instead of sending harden to the line for no contact they figured they would send Asik

      • blackfire030 says:

        I bet KD will remember Omer name now but for them to resort to that shows they are panicking I knew when KD had to place almost 48 min a game that it was gonna come back to haunt them this is a series not just one game and you can see the affect it has on KD he is tired and when he does finally get rest his back dont even know how to act cause he rarely plays advantage Houston cause they use thier entire players

    • alextheli0n says:

      The one person supporting the Rockets as a commentator is Kenny Smith. He is afterall a Rockets veteran. GO ROCKETS!

  15. tiMMeH! says:

    Was a really good read. I am a Rocket’s fan and was worried when we lost to LAL in the last regular season game – knowing that we would play the #1 team in the West.

    After the first 3 games my worst fears were realised and I saw the Rockets getting swept. When game 4 was on I logged onto NBA.com and watched the commentary (I live in Australia and was at work). I saw the Rockets winning late in the 4th and couldn’t believe it. It was such a tense game, and I was dreading another final second loss. But alas, they got up by 2 and won game 5. If they can pull off the V on Friday, then they are a real big chance of progressing to the next round. I hope and pray they do!

  16. Henry says:

    FRAN BLINEBURY IS THE GREATEST OKC HATER IN THE WHOLE WORLD… READ ALL HIS ARTICLES… VERY BIASED

    • OKCKD35 says:

      agreed, had nothing to say when OKC was winning, now that they lost 2 games there is nothing but articles on how they thunder are shaken and that the rockets are the best team ever, Its even funnier because the thunder players are saying the exact opposite. If either Martin or Thabo had a respectable game this series would be over.

  17. Bubba says:

    Parsons is the best SF on the Rockets. He’s playing the PF (stretch 4) position as Rockets are going small ball against Thunder. Parsons’ confidence is scaring OKC fans. Parsons was a 2nd Rd pick. What a steal. Thunder look 1 dimensional with KD as the only 1 who can score. Beverley is owning the PG spot with his defensive energy. Heck, he might be the starter come next year over Lin. Remember, Beverley wasn’t even part of training camp. Even, Aaron Brooks has been solid like his old self. ASIK is getting after the boards and making FTs. Go Rockets!

  18. jake s. says:

    Another unbiased article from the best writer on nba.com….

    • qwfrshgfjnd says:

      This article is posted on the Hang Time BLOG. This is a blog that’s hosted on nba.com. A blog is “a Web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, OPINIONS, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.”

    • jake s. says:

      If his articles ever proved any thing besides his own opinion, I might level with you. I’m not against opinion, i’m against the writer.

    • KL says:

      It’s funny you complain about bias when nearly every sports announcer is talking about this series like they bet their life savings on OKC. This is one single blog. Get over it.