The choke job by the OKC Thunder last night in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals was recognizable in any language.
Up 15 points with four minutes left in regulation, the Thunder had physically dominated the game with a +22 rebound margin and +20 in the paint. The Mavs stayed in it thanks to heady play from Jasons Kidd and Terry, and some 7 foot German guy that apparently
can't miss a jump shot or a free throw.
They also stayed in it thanks to the emergence down the stretch of Bad Russell Westbrook, OKC's Jekyll & Hyde wunderkid. He had been steady for most of the game until the 4th quarter, when once again both fans and disinterested parties were treated to another unscheduled episode of the Russell Westbrook Show. This brief program typically features rushed one-shot possessions, preferably off balance in traffic with three wide open teammates on the perimeter. Final shot in regulation or OT? Check. Last night's version was sort of a running shot/pass to Jason Kidd. Not Westbrook's teammate. Roll credits ... Kidd gets fouled, ices two free throws, and the Mavericks win by seven while the stunned mullets in OKC contemplate how unfair their lives are in so many capacities.
This should have been a win. It had to be a win for the Thunder to have a chance in this series. The loss is on Scott Brooks for having no clue how to run offense down the stretch (see addiction to OT). It's on Westbrook for being a selfish prick. It's on Durant for not being a more vocal leader and dictating what happens down the stretch. It's on the team's second best player, James Harden, for fouling out and the bench contributing a collective 9 points outside of Collison's 12. It's on the state of Oklahoma for sucking in general, although I generally don't acknowledge the fact the Thunder are located there. I just pretend OKC is like a KFC franchise that bought the team. It's also on me for temporarily giving a shit about the NBA.
The Thunder went from being back in the mix for an NBA Final tied up at 2-2 to planning offseason vacations in teh Seychelles. If OKC couldn't win a game they dominated at home with a huge fourth quarter cushion, can they reel off three straight against the smartest, most well-coached team in the league, anchored by an unstoppable German?
The Mavs dispatched the former NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in four games like it was a Rucker Park exhibition.
The Thunder, perhaps in a side deal with TNT, extracted every possible minute of drama out of their 7 game series with Memphis. This is the team that lives to extend each regulation into OT to give fans more excitement. The team with a one man show at PG who shoots 30% from the field in anti-clutchy, Durant defying fashion. The team whose coach preaches defense down the stretch when they just needed a good fucking set play on a whiteboard. You need both. But if you can't stop Dirk, you better be able to match him at the other end. The Thunder had nothing in OT and their faces on the bench at the end of regulation told the story.
KD better have something real special in that backpack for Wednesday night.