Showing posts with label basket ball. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basket ball. Show all posts

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thunder rally to edge Lakers 77-75 in Game 2

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Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, tumbles over Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum during the first quarter of Game 2 in an NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference semifinal

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Down in desperation time, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks called on Kevin Durant to show that he's more than just a three-time scoring champion. And that meant guarding one of the NBA's all-time best.

Durant was up to the challenge, keeping Kobe Bryant from excelling as usual in his closer's role while sparking the Thunder's rally for a 77-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night.

Durant scored 22 points and rattled in the go-ahead basket on a baseline runner with 18 seconds left as Oklahoma City scored the final nine points. He also had a crucial steal from Bryant to fuel the rally.

"People talk about how I score the ball," said Durant, one of only seven players to lead the NBA in scoring three straight seasons.

"They don't look at me when we go on the other end. I think this whole playoff run, I've been picking it up on the defensive end."

Oklahoma City trailed by seven with 2 minutes left before surging back with a series of defensive stops by its stars to rally from that deficit in the closing stages of a game for the second time this postseason. The Thunder also were down by seven with 2 1/2 minutes left in Game 1 of the first round against defending NBA champion Dallas.

"They won't quit. That's not in their DNA," Brooks said. "They're not wired that way and if they were, they wouldn't be here. We're not going to win every game, but we're going to fight to the last second of the game and we did that tonight.

"If we would have gotten down on ourselves with 2 minutes to go, we would have lost by 12 and we would go to L.A. 1-1."

Instead, Oklahoma City takes a 2-0 lead into Game 3 on Friday night at Staples Center.

Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points apiece for the Lakers, who came up empty on their last six possessions after Bynum's hook shot made it 75-68 with 2:09 remaining.

Struggling throughout the second half and missing 20 of their first 27 shots, the Thunder came alive after Brooks called a timeout when Bynum's basket gave Los Angeles its largest lead of the game.

James Harden drove for a layup before Durant used his height advantage to reach up and tip away a pass from Bryant. He then ran out for a right-handed dunk at the other end.

Brooks had switched Durant onto Bryant with about 5 minutes left, after Bryant had hit a pair of jumpers as the Lakers started to inch away.

"That wasn't the game plan going in, but there was a moment when I thought Kobe was starting to fill it and I thought Kevin's length would bother him," Brooks said.

That's exactly how it played out - with the 6-foot-9 Durant using his wingspan to come up with an energizing steal and fast-break chance.

Russell Westbrook then forced another turnover by challenging an outlet pass to Bryant along the sideline. Officials originally ruled that it went off Westbrook, but changed the call after seeing on replay that he didn't touch it and Bryant whiffed on the contested catch.

"What they did the last few minutes there, they just made gambles," Bryant said. "They just jumped in the passing lanes. It's something that we're not accustomed to seeing. It's just flat-out risks defensively."

Harden made the next stop, blocking Bryant's jumper on the Lakers' next possession and getting a layup in transition off it to cut the deficit to one in the final minute.

Bryant then missed on a 3-pointer and the Thunder got the ball back with the chance to take the lead and Durant was able to make it happen on the offensive end.

"I think Kevin has improved on being a two-way player," Brooks said. "I think the last three years it's taken our team to a different level and it takes his game to a different level."

Steve Blake missed an open 3-pointer from the right side with about 5 seconds left after Metta World Peace couldn't get the ball to Bryant on the inbounds play.

Bryant, who was the primary option on the play, said Blake's shot was in the air by the time he turned around to look for an inbounds pass.

"Blake was wide open. We didn't have any timeouts left and he got a clean look, a really good look," World Peace said. "He can knock that down."

Durant was then fouled with 0.3 seconds left and made his first try before missing the second on purpose - failing to hit the backboard or rim for a violation.

The Lakers got a desperation try, but Harden intercepted World Peace's long pass for Bynum.

Westbrook added 15 points for Oklahoma City, which matched its lowest scoring total of the season but still gutted out the win. The Thunder had ripped apart the Lakers' defense with their pick-and-roll attack in Game 1, scoring 119 points in a 29-point blowout.

Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds for L.A.

Historically, the loss makes a huge difference. Los Angeles is 29-12 when splitting the first two games of a seven-game series and has lost 17 of 19 when falling into a 2-0 hole. The Lakers' last comeback was in the 2004 West semifinals against San Antonio.

The Thunder have won all nine of their series after leading 2-0, dating to the franchise's days in Seattle.

"We've got to win," Bynum said. "It's do or die come Friday."

Bryant almost led the Lakers to a big bounce-back victory in this one.

He drilled a jumper from the left wing and Blake followed with a 3-pointer before World Peace hit one of two free throws for a 69-63 advantage with 7:27 remaining. Bryant then answered Serge Ibaka's jumper before missing his final five shots.

He also had a hand in two turnovers in the final 2 minutes, the first created by Durant's defense.

"He used his length on Kobe. Coming up with that steal was huge," Lakers' coach Mike Brown said. "That's what great players are supposed to do. They're supposed to take on the challenge at the end of the game and he did.

"He won the game for them, basically."

Notes: The NBA fined Devin Ebanks $25,000 on Wednesday for actions related to his Game 1 ejection and Bynum $15,000 for failing to speak to reporters Tuesday. Bynum talked at the Lakers' morning shootaround Wednesday and called it a make up for skipping the previous day. ... Harden caught World Peace with an inadvertent elbow to the face in the first quarter. ... After making 10 of 15 shots in Game 1, Westbrook was 5 for 17.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thunder clobber Lakers 119-90 in Game 1

Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace
Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace, left, and Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) jockey for position as they wait for the ball to be inbounded during the first quarter of Game 1
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- For the second time in less than a week, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers must figure out how to fight back after a humbling loss.

Bryant responded the first time by calling out his teammates for lackluster effort.

It might not be so simple this time.

Russell Westbrook had 27 points and nine assists, Kevin Durant added 25 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder blasted the weary Lakers 119-90 Monday night in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.

This blowout came four days after Bryant's Lakers trailed by as many as 28 in a loss at Denver, then bounced back to win Game 7. They'll need to find some answers before Game 2 in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

"I've seen both sides of that equation and my experience has taught me just to be patient and to think the game through," said Bryant, who tied Andrew Bynum for the team lead with 20 points.

"We can come up with a different strategy and we can do a much better job and have a much better showing in the next game."

The Thunder took a 15-point halftime lead, opened the third quarter with a 15-2 blitz filled with crowd-pleasing 3-pointers and dunks, and never looked back. The final margin ended up being the fourth-largest in the history of the Oklahoma City franchise, including its years in Seattle.

It matched the 12th-largest defeat in Lakers postseason history, and the sixth worst of Bryant's career. Three of those losses came in close-out games when L.A. was done for the series. Once was the start of a four-game sweep. The other two times, the Lakers came back to win the next game - both during their run to the 2000 NBA title.

"We got beat tonight. You can say anything you want to about a seven-game series and us having a day or whatever," Los Angeles coach Mike Brown said. "The bottom line is this is the playoffs, we've got to come to play and we didn't. We got beat.

"It's one game, so we've got to bounce back for the next one."

The Thunder didn't need any dirty tactics to get even for Metta World Peace's suspension-worthy elbow that gave Oklahoma City's James Harden a concussion with a week left in the regular season.

The league's most turnover-prone team - committing 16.4 per game in the regular season - gave it away only four times, a record low for the franchise.

"I think that's huge," coach Scott Brooks said. "Four - we've had that the first 6 minutes of games at times."

While the Lakers were making a quick turnaround less than 48 hours after ending the first round, the Thunder had eight full days off following their first-round sweep of defending NBA champion Dallas.

That gave starting center Kendrick Perkins time - but apparently not enough - to rest a strained muscle in his right hip after he hurt it in the final game of the Dallas series. He limped out of the game after dunking just after halftime and did not return - although coach Scott Brooks said he could have. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday.

The possibility of rust had been a concern for Brooks, and he fought it by alternating light days with demanding, training-camp style practices.

"There's no question we have a team full of gym rats. They want to play basketball," Brooks said. "That's all they want to do: They want to play basketball. They're basketball players. They probably don't have much of a life off the court."

All that pent-up energy came flowing out just after halftime, in highlight-reel fashion.

Durant lobbed the ball to Westbrook for a two-handed slam, then connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to draw a timeout from Brown.

That still didn't slow Oklahoma City, which got what could have been a costly two-handed dunk from Perkins on its next trip and then another 3 from Durant before Thabo Sefolosha swiped the ball from Bryant and ran out for a layup that made it 74-46 with 8:39 left in the period.

"From then on, it was cruising for us," said Westbrook, who had nine assists against one turnover.

Both coaches started going to their benches with 8 1/2 minutes left, and Los Angeles reserve Devin Ebanks ended up getting ejected with 2:18 to play after walking up to a scrum for the ball after the whistle. Official Greg Willard said at the scorer's table that he was ejected for "what he said" in drawing a technical foul.

"Obviously, they're more well-rested than we are, but I don't think it made that much of a difference for us," Bryant said.

"We could have had the same amount of days off. They're just younger and faster. And tonight, what you saw is them executing extremely well."

The buildup to the game focused largely on it being the first meeting between the teams since World Peace got a seven-game suspension for elbowing Harden. He returned just in time to help L.A. win Game 7 against Denver.

A sold-out crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena wasn't happy to see him back, although World Peace - who changed his name from Ron Artest - was hardly fazed by the chorus of boos that greeted him during pregame introductions or again whenever the ball came his way.

World Peace knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key amid boos the first time he touched the ball, set up a two-handed jam by Bynum and drilled another 3 within the first 2 1/2 minutes.

The boos continued throughout the game whenever he got the ball.

"Right now, it's about basketball," World Peace said. "After the season we can talk about that but right now it's more about basketball."

Notes: Bryant tied former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for the third-most playoff games in NBA history with 216. ... Perkins was called for a lane violation in the first quarter after arguing with Willard about a call and then walking up to his spot along the lane while Bynum was shooting. Bynum made both foul shots when awarded the extra chance. ... Toby Keith's daughter, Krystal, sang the national anthem.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Girls basketball: Gordon's career-high leads South Charleston

 Girls basketball
Girl's Basketball

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Never behind and never in doubt, South Charleston rode the shooting stroke of senior Brittany Gordon to the Class AAA Region 4 Section 1 championship game.

Gordon posted a career-high 42 points to lead the Black Eagles in a sectional semifinal game they never trailed for an eventual 89-45 win against St. Albans at South Charleston High School on Wednesday night.

South Charleston Coach Gary Greene said Gordon's offensive success was a result of St. Albans' decision to pack the interior.

"St. Albans decided they weren't going to let us get anything inside, so they were double- and triple-teaming the post in there ball-side and it opened up the top," he said. "Brittany just took what they gave her. They were doubling down so much, even when she was outside the 3. She got some great looks, as well as some of our other guards."

Gordon, a guard, finished the game 15-of-25 from the field, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range. Gordon scored 11 points in each of the first two quarters as the Black Eagles built a 50-23 halftime lead.

Gordon said she agreed with her coach's assessment that the Red Dragons' inside-first defense led to her offensive outburst.

"They were doubling down on our post players and it left a lot open for the guards - I was on tonight," she said.

Red Dragons Coach Scott James said his team lacked the fire early in the game as St. Albans (7-17) fell behind and Class AAA No. 3 South Charleston took advantage.

"We've got to come out with a purpose every single game and with that, intensity follows," he said. "At times we showed that, but tonight was a shame that we had to go out the season this way, but my hat's off to South Charleston. They did a great job."
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