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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Home teams winning in pro hoops Final Four

The lower-seeded teams in the NBA conference finals won the first home games in their respective series, which brings each of them into a Game 4 trailing 2 games to 1. It's Oklahoma City trying to hold serve tonight against San Antonio, whom they trashed on Thursday to break a 20-game winning streak. Tomorrow night, Boston will try to even its series against Miami, whom they manhandled last night.

The cliché is that the series doesn't start until one side loses at home. By that measure, the conference finals haven't started yet. But going down 3-1 is not a good thing, and so if either of the home teams loses on its home court this weekend, it could be more of an end than a beginning. We're pulling for the home squads to tie things up and thus ramp up the intensity of the week ahead.

UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Kevin Durant went nuts in the fourth quarter, and his OKC team made it a best-of-three series. It's sad that people in Oklahoma have a team to root for, while Blazer fans have spent the day Googling "blood virus."

Comments (8)

I like Kevin Durant. But the fact that the Blazers passed up on him for Greg Oden, plus the fact that he plays for the Zombie Sonics, makes me root hard for the Spurs. But yes, the series gets much more interesting if its a best of three.

So far this series is as legendary as anything the NBA has seen. If it goes 7 with a last second, game-winning shot, it will take its place among the best of all time.

Tonight was epic. You can hear the respect that Shaq, the Jet, Ernie, and Charles are giving it. They'd love to tell us how it doesn't measure up to the caliber of hoops back in the day, but they can't - it's right there.

Kevin Durant is rapidly becoming one of the most important athletes on the planet. He's Doctor J. 2012.

This is legendary stuff and it's just what the NBA needs right now. Of course, the old timer in me wants to point out that back in the day you'd have 3 or 4 series like this in one playoffs, but at least we've got one. At least we've got one.

Kevin Durant is that good. I hate my life.

Paul Allen downloaded Doodle Jump.

Meanwhile, another scintillating OT game in the Stanley Cup finals: And another great athletic display by the eight-seeded Kings' goalie, Jonathan Quick, against one if the greatest all-time NHL goalies, Martin Brodeur -- http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/sports/hockey/watching-devils-goalie-martin-brodeur-never-gets-old.html -- as the Kings win 2-1 and take the first two and head to LA up 2 games to none, extending LA's playoff record road win streak to 12 games in a row --

For Kings' Jonathan Quick, it's wow and again

P.S.: For all of us longtime NBA-watchers, I hope you didn't miss this great story of two great men's lives --


Notable excerpts:

But Twyman’s greatest fame came from simply helping out a friend. After his Cincinnati Royals teammate Maurice Stokes had a paralyzing brain injury in the final regular-season game of the 1958 season, Twyman learned he was nearly destitute.
So he became Stokes’s legal guardian. He helped him get workers’ compensation; raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for medical care, partly through organizing an annual charity game of basketball superstars; and helped him learn to communicate by blinking his eyes to denote individual letters.
And for decades Twyman pressed the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., to induct Stokes, a power forward who once grabbed 38 rebounds in a game. When the Hall of Fame finally did so, in 2004, 21 years after Twyman’s admission, Twyman accepted the award for his friend.

Both were genuine stars. Stokes, at 6 feet 7 inches and 232 pounds, was the N.B.A. rookie of the year in 1956. The next year he set a league rebounding record, and he became a three-time All-Star. The Boston Celtics star Bob Cousy called him “the first great, athletic power forward.”

Twyman sometimes worried that his wife and family might become upset over the amount of time he devoted to Stokes over 12 years, but his daughter said in an interview that they had come to look forward to Stokes’s Sunday visits from the hospital. Twyman’s wife of 57 years, the former Carole Frey, became, with her husband, a co-trustee of the Maurice Stokes Foundation, which was set up to defray Stokes’s hospital costs but grew to help other needy N.B.A. veterans as well.

Years after his accident, when Stokes had recovered enough finger flexibility to type, his first message was: “Dear Jack, How can I ever thank you?”
Twyman shrugged this off, saying that whenever he felt down, he “selfishly” visited the always cheerful Stokes. “He never failed to pump me up,” he said.

Reminds me of a Blazer story. Recounted here, in part -- others, too, remember, no doubt:


I love going to a team's local newspapers for reaction to a game. Here's a line from a San Antonio paper that seems to miss the point about what OKC did last night:

"The Spurs struggled through one of their worst defensive playoff performances in the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan era in Saturday’s loss against Oklahoma City."

I thought they played good defense on Durant. He was just in the zone.

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