Posts Tagged ‘Nazr Mohammed’

Thunder Need Perkins For Next Round





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — The status of Thunder center Kendrick Perkins for the Western Conference semifinals remains a bit of a mystery.

The Thunder’s week off after sweeping the Mavericks in the first round should benefit Perkins, who suffered a right hip muscle strain early in Game 4 against the Mavericks and did not return. But there has been no officials update on his condition, leaving Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman to wonder exactly what the recovery process (10-14 days potentially?) has in store for the big man and his team.

We will let the medical professionals handle the prognostications about his return and instead try to sift through the words of his head coach for a few morsels of information about where things stand.

“In the next couple of days we’ll have a better understanding of where he’s at,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after his team’s practice Monday. “We know the next couple of days he’ll continue to get worked on by our medical staff. I have a lot of respect for what they do. And it’s always about the players, so they’ll make sure [Perkins] is ready to play at the level he’s used to playing at … the extra few days of rest will be good for everybody.”

If the Lakers can finish off the Nuggets tonight in Game 5, that will set up a rematch of a first-round series the two teams played two postseasons ago. It will also ramp up the importance of Perkins returning to action as soon as possible. The Lakers have two 7-footers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol that will demand serious attention. A potential matchup against Perkins and the league’s shot blocking champ, Serge Ibaka, would be another interesting twist to the series.

Nick Collison is the third member of the Thunder’s big man rotation, with Nazr Mohammed capable of handling some minutes as well if Perkins is limited or unable to go for the start of the next series.

But a healthy Perkins is vital to the Thunder’s championship pursuit and, more immediately, their chances of defeating the Lakers.


Something’s Missing In This Rematch





OKLAHOMA CITY — Much will be made of the Thunder and Mavericks adding another layer to the playoff rivalry that began last season in the Western Conference finals, where the Mavericks cemented their supremacy on the way the franchise’s first Larry O’Brien trophy.

But there is on glaring omission from the festivities this time around. When the Mavericks take the floor tonight at Chesapeake Arena tonight they’ll do so without the defensive anchor that championship team leaned on considerably in the postseason, especially against the Thunder.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler is the Miami Heat’s problem this time around. Brendan Haywood is working in his place now. And no matter how much the Thunder try to convince themselves that Haywood brings the same sort of rim-protecting ferocity to the party, it’s just not true.

“There’s no question Tyson is one of the best defensive bigs in the league and has obviously done a great job in New York, but Haywood is also a very unique player, he’s a very strong low-post player and protects the basket in different ways,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “But we still have to look forward to getting good shots and be very intelligent in our drives and know when to pull up and when to pass out of it. We have to take good shots, because Dallas plays zone and we have to be able to attack that.”

Chandler’s inside work in the middle of Rick Carlisle‘s’ zone scheme is what allowed the Mavericks to play shut down defense on the perimeter. The Thunder collapsed down the stretch offensively in Games 4 and 5 of the conference finals last season, blowing big leads in both games as they ran out of fight in a series that up until then looked like it might go the distance.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, as good as they are, were unable to shoot and score the Thunder out of that hole once Chandler and the Mavericks’ defense locked on. None of the Thunder’s bigs — Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Nazr Mohammed or Nick Collison — was able to neutralize Chandler, who did battle foul trouble throughout the series.

Thunder guard Derek Fisher got a taste of the Mavericks with Chandler last season as well, the Mavericks swept the Lakers in the conference semifinals. So he knows just how difficult a team the Mavericks were to attack with Dirk Nowitzki shredding your defense on one end and Chandler manning the middle on the other. And he doesn’t see a significant drop off in what they do now.

“I think they have figured out a way, even without Chandler’s protection at the basket, to be a really solid defensive teams,” he said. “They have a lot of smart, veteran players, so they know how to defend the floor and take things away from teams. They’ve still been able to do that this season.”

We’ll find out tonight if the Thunder have come up with a solution to that problem tonight. They’ve had roughly 10 months to think about it. It should be an easier task without Chandler around, at least on paper.

Rosen’s Report: Thunder at Celtics

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Along with most NBA watchers, the Oklahoma City Thunder are convinced that their sprightly legs and extraordinary team-wide talent will enable them to trump the difficulties of the shortened season and eventually run their way to the championship.  As if the Thunder need any further motivation, beating the Celtics in Boston would provide immediate evidence that elderly tortoises are no match for young hares.

Conversely, the Celtics understand that this is the last go-round for their rapidly aging core of KG, PP and Ray-Ray.  Here is a golden-age opportunity to demonstrate that they’re not quite ready for the glue factory.

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Labor Talks: Time To Make A Move

— For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a hard time keeping up. Most of us are in the same spot, trying to figure out who is for what as the clock ticks down to the league’s 5 p.m. ET Wednesday deadline for the players to either take or dismiss the league’s 50-50 proposal.

Some players are all for making a deal, as Kobe Bryant told Yahoo! Sports:

“We need for the two sides to get together again before Wednesday, because we’re too close to getting a deal done,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. “We need to iron out the last system items and save this from spiraling into a nuclear winter.”

Some others are not. Some of the owners are for it and apparently, per ESPN.com‘s sources, some others are not. It’s high time someone made a move, the right move to get the 2011-12 season up and running.

But when the sides can’t come to a consensus within their own caucuses, it’s tough to see some sort of breakthrough if and when the sides come together again to try and hash out the final details of a new collective bargaining agreement.

With the union representatives from all 30 teams set to meet today in New York, in advance of Wednesday’s end-of-business deadline, plenty of observers are a little nervous about what type of movement could emerge from the gathering. The players have limited options at this point. They can take a vote on the proposal and decide to take the deal, bowing to the league’s “ultimatum,” as union president Derek Fisher called it over the weekend, and breathe life into a season and the NBA fan base. Or they can refuse to even consider it, as Fisher insisted in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s bargaining session, and push this affair into an even darker corner.

Fair or not, the players will own the next 36 hours of this mess.

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Thunder Inside Men Do The Job

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will continue to draw the biggest crowds and garners the most headlines for all that goes on with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That’s what All-Stars do. But if the Thunder challenge the Spurs, Lakers and Mavericks for the Western Conference crown this season, they’ll have to do it from the inside out.

And that means they’ll need more of what they got from Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka in last night’s win over Portland that clinched their second consecutive playoff berth. The two Thunder bigs came up with clutch, back-to-back blocks at the rim in the final minute of a tight game (above), setting the stage for Westbrook to finish the Trail Blazers off with big shots in the final 53 seconds.

“They do a good job protecting the basket,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks told the Oklahoman. “They compliment each other very well.”

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About Last Night: OKC Does It With D!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — For all the flashy, highlight-reel dunks and plays made by the Miami Heat this season, the backbone of their title quest is the fact that they are one of the league’s most relentless defensive teams when they are at their very best.

Seeing the Oklahoma City Thunder stifle the Heat with their defense last night at American Airlines Arena confirmed what we already knew: this Thunder team has truly graduated to the next level.

The addition of Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed to the Thunder’s interior defensive rotation, alongside Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and even rookie big Cole Aldrich, completely changes the way this team can attack teams on defense. It also gives the Thunder a fighting chance against any of the elite teams in the league (Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Bulls, etc.) if things shift to the inside on a given night.

“We’ve got four bigs that do a good job of rotating and helping each other,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks told reporters after the game. “They’ve got a lot of experience, I’m confident in any of the guys out there. They can all mix and match. They all play hard. They all set good screens. They all make extra passes.”

The Heat shot just 38.5 percent from the floor and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade struggled to match their usual production, combing for 40 points on 15-for-42 shooting from the floor (they were 21-59 with the third member of the crew, Chris Bosh, included).

Against the Heat, Brooks told the Oklahoman, those bigs and the Thunder defense was as good as it gets:

“Our defense was as good as it could possibly play,” Brooks. “We haven’t been the 48-minute defending team that I would like (and) that we need to be. But tonight, we defended right from the start…Tonight, it was for four quarters. That’s the way it should be played.”

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Sounds of Silence in Loud City

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – OK, science students. What’s louder than the sound of Thunder?

No question it’s the thud of 18,203 jaws and hearts hitting the hardwood floor at Oklahoma City Arena (aka “Loud City”) when Kevin Durant limped off the court last night.

In a heartbeat, Thunder fans everywhere saw their lives — or at least the rest of the season and playoffs — flash before their eyes when The Franchise bypassed the bench and headed straight to the locker room.

It occurred late in the third quarter when Durant drove through the lane, tried to plant his left foot, landed instead on top of Tyler Hansbrough’s foot and rolled his left ankle.

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A Whole New World

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With the trade deadline behind us now and the winners and losers being debated around the globe, we have a chance to sit back and survey the landscape here at the hideout.

Whatever certainty we had about a Lakers-Celtics rematch in the NBA Finals faded when the Celtics shipped off Kendrick Perkins, and even Nate Robinson, to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. In fact, the Celtics and all the other trade-happy teams have created a whole new world in the NBA for the rest of this season.

It dawned on us last night, as we were watching the Bulls’ comeback win over Miami (above). And as crazy as it might have sounded before the trade deadline, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think we could see a Bulls-Thunder NBA Finals this season (as opposed to 2013 or 2014). We’re not guaranteeing it or even predicting it. All we’re saying is it is within the realm of possibility.

Night after night, the Bulls are making it clear that they do not fear the Heat, Celtics or anyone else (you remember the way they handled the Spurs before the All-Star break).

Ask most anyone about the Bulls and Thunder before the trade deadline and they’d have told you that they were both poised to be the next teams in line to contend for titles, considering the way they’ve been built. But there’s no sense waiting in line or trying to be next when you can be right now.

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