Posts Tagged ‘ken mauer’

Thunder Getting Desperate To Provide Durant Help


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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Late in the first quarter Kevin Durant wanted a foul on emerging nemesis Tony Allen and put up an awkward shot that bounced off the backboard and triggered an Allen breakaway. To prevent a layup, the retreating Durant leaped and fouled Allen on the way to the rim, came down, punched the air in frustration and told referee Ken Mauer of his possession at the other end: “That was a foul, man.”

All the while Allen shot his free throws, Durant pleaded his case. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Allen blanketed Durant and he fell to the floor. During the quarter break, Durant, with a towel draped around his shoulders at mid-court, continued to address Mauer.

Durant pounded the chest of struggling forward Serge Ibaka after he missed a free throw. After a near-steal by Memphis’ aggressive team defense, Durant animatedly jabbed at the sky with his index finger and urged second-year guard Reggie Jackson to throw the ball higher when he’s backing down his man.

Durant, asked to bang with burly Grizzlies center Marc Gasol on the defensive end, took an inadvertent elbow from the big man square in the jaw, doubled-over and covered his face with his hands.

As Game 3 was ticking down Saturday evening to a Memphis Grizzlies 87-81 victory for a 2-1 series lead, Durant crouched down and planted both hands on the floor, tired and realizing that it is up to him to pick up this fight, to keep the season going, in 48 hours. With Allen now hounding him for chunks at a time, Durant finished with 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting after starting 6-for-8. He had 11 rebounds and five assists. He logged 45 minutes, 44 seconds, which might or might not have contributed to him going 2-for-5 from the free throw line in the second half.

He had two points in the fourth quarter. In the last two fourth quarters, starting with the final 3:18 of the Thunder’s Game 2 loss at home when the hard-edged guard Allen truly started to stick to Durant, the three-time scoring champ is 1-for-7 from the floor and 0-for-2 from the free throw line.

“Tony’s great man,” Grizzlies teammate Zach Randolph said. “Tony’s a dog, man. He’s in the mud.”

Welcome to KD’s world. The reality of All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook — Allen’s more natural counterpart –being shelved is in full effect and it’s not pretty. The Grizzlies are doing all they can to grit-and-grind their way to making life as uncomfortable as possible for Durant, forcing his teammates to step up, and especially late in these games, each of which have been up for grabs in the final three minutes.

“I’ve said it before, when a guy has the ball and has to score like that it takes energy, and the more you make him work, that’s the best you can do,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “You can’t stop Kevin Durant, he’s a great player, but he played 45, 46 minutes and he’s asked to carry a huge load for them. As the game goes on other people for them, they start taking the load away from him a little bit, but I don’t think that we can stop him. I’m not attributing it to us.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Durant’s heavy minutes were not a factor in going 3-for-11 after his great start and 1-for-4 in a second consecutive poorly executed final few minutes.

The 24-year-old Durant continues to say he can shoulder any load. But, he has to have help. Ibaka is a mess offensively, clanging 11 more shots in  Game 3 — unfathomably including two dunks and a 1-foot hook, and running his series shooting percentage to 33.3 percent. This from a man who shot a career-best 57.3 percent in the regular season.

Since Ibaka missed that difficult put-back under the rim at the end of the Game 4 loss to Houston, his shooting has plummeted from 22-for-38 to 23-for-66. Durant acknowledged that Ibaka’s mind is a mine field.

“We have to get him confidence,” Durant said. “We have to get him some shots and get him going. We can’t let him put too much pressure on himself. It’s all in his mind. If he thinks he is going to make those shots, then he is going to make them. I have to pick him up and that is what I have been doing.”

Kevin Martin shouldn’t need picking up in his ninth season, although this is the first pressurized postseason of his career. No matter, he is nearing bust status when his team needs him most. He, too, missed 11 more shots as his 50-point, two-game breakout to close out Houston and to get OKC off to a 1-0 start against the Grizz appears more like a mirage. His shooting stats in the last two games: 8-for-28 from the floor and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc.

In this series, Durant is averaging 32.0 points on 33-for-66 shooting from the floor. The rest of the Thunder are 62-for-172 (36.0 percent). They’ve struggled to score against Memphis’ gritty defense, averaging 85.6 points — 20 below their season average. Yet they’ve been right there, in position to snag the last two games.

Game 3 was theirs to take. They outrebounded Memphis, limited their turnovers, held Randolph to eight points and one offensive board. OKC was unusually spotty from the foul line (12-for-19) and awful from beyond the arc (5-for-18), but Derek Fisher’s 3-ball tied it at 81-81 with 1:58 to go. Much like Game 2, they wouldn’t score again.

Durant and Brooks both reiterated that they won’t change their approach offensively. Durant won’t play hero ball. He’ll continue to look for teammates in the structure of the halfcourt offense, which Durant said is working fine. They just need to make shots, he said.

“We missed two dunks, we missed three or four layups in the paint, we missed some wide open 3s,” Durant said. “We’re getting the right shots. We’re getting shots that our offense gives to us. We just have to knock them down.”

Noah’s Controversial Tip Raises Questions About Lobs, Too

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CHICAGO – An alternative dateline for this post would be TIP CITY, except there’s no such place, no parallel metropolis to the NBA’s much ballyhooed LOB CITY.

Everyone’s been to Lob City, right … the site of literally hundreds of highlight alley-oop slam dunks at Staples Center and elsewhere? It’s simple yet exhilarating stuff: Ball gets delivered near or at the rim, grabbed in flight by a teammate and flushed down for a swift and manly two points.

But a play that was mechanically similar – except for the flushing part – got waved off to thwart the Chicago Bulls’ hopes in a 119-118 overtime loss to the streaking Denver Nuggets at United Center.

Down a point with 7.1 seconds left, the Bulls had to settle for Marco Belinelli‘s shot from the left side as their last, best chance. The shot looked to be short – until Joakim Noah reached up and tipped it through.

Pandemonium ensued. The game clock showed 1.7 seconds. And then, the celebration went dark. Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau exploded, Bulls players anguished and the arena got cranky-loud as the referees, given the chance to review the play during a 20-second timeout called by Denver, invalidated the basket as offensive interference by Noah.

Chicago’s beef was two-fold. With 47 seconds left in overtime, Nuggets center Kosta Koufas had cleaned up a running layup from Ty Lawson that, to some, still appeared to be dancing indecisively on the rim. That tip put Denver up 116-115 – and it was not reviewed.

The reason given? There was no call on the floor of offensive interference. Therefore, nothing to review, per NBA rules.

The question Thibodeau and the Bulls maintained through their ire? The refs didn’t call anything in the moment on Noah’s tip/violation. Yet they did review that play during Denver’s brief timeout, as the arena’s P.A. announcer informed the crowd: “Goaltending is the call on the floor.”

Even that was off because, as an offensive player, Noah couldn’t technically have committed goaltending.

Here’s Thibodeau pointing out what he saw as the discrepancy in how the two plays were handled and ruled:

“I don’t understand it one bit. Koufos’ play, I asked why it wasn’t reviewed. … Clearly, it was on the rim, and they told me that because they didn’t make the call, they couldn’t review it. If that is the rule, then that is the rule. I thought we had the video stuff to make sure we got it right. Then down on the other end … they are tough calls for bang-bang plays, but I don’t understand why one is reviewable and the other one isn’t. After watching the replay, and I watched it when it occurred, they never made the call on that either.”

Good luck putting that toothpaste back in the tube. A league spokesman said that the very fact the officials reviewed the Noah play meant that they had something to review. Sort of a reverse-Catch 22, or something.

Here is Denver coach George Karl‘s take:

“There’s no question it was goaltending. The ball was going to hit the rim. I was too far away to see the play on Kosta’s tip-in shot.”

Players are divided, in poor position to see what happened on the two plays, or both. Denver’s Andre Iguodala said of the Noah play: “It happened so fast, it was hard to see. There was one angle on the replay, I thought you could tell it was going to at least make the rim.”

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler sounded more resigned when he said: “It was a goaltending. That is what they called. It’s not like we can change it.”

Then there was Noah, who went from disappointed to puzzled to lathered up as he repeatedly was asked about it:

“It’s very disappointing. I feel like you play this game so hard… Maybe I don’t understand the rules or something. I just don’t understand how you can review my tip-in but two plays before that you can’t review the other one. There’s got to be consistency. It’s just frustrating how things like that can happen. I know the refs are doing the best that they can in that situation, but it cost us the game today.” (more…)

Ignoring, neglecting refs a good thing

CHICAGO – Danny Crawford, Michael Smith and Ken Mauer. Or if you prefer, Mauer, Smith and Crawford.

Here at the Hang Time hideout, we figure the names of referees who worked Game 1 of the Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls series at United Center are worth repeating once, twice or even thrice. They’ve got a few mentions coming because of how seldom their names came up during the game and broadcasts Sunday night.

Too often, hotly contested playoff games – especially at the level of conference championships and beyond – thrust the officials front and center in ways that the league and NBA fans generally abhor. But it happens, again and again, year after year:

Who’s working the game? Which team does he favor? How did three guys miss that call? Does he and that superstar have some sort of history? And on and on.

Considering the partisanship of most interested observers, the split-second decisions required several hundred times each game and the pseudo-celebrity status of NBA game officials thrust front-and-center into the spotlight right next to the players, the focus on refs – to the point of obsession – is understandable.

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