Attacking The Boards: Where LeBron And Durant Put On A Show

This was quite a game.

The Thunder were down double-digits in the third quarter, but scoring outbursts from Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Nenad Krstic got the Thunder back into the game and some brief leads. LeBron James and Shaq were the big time studs for Cleveland, getting things done in the third to prevent going in a whole headed into the final period. LeBron even hit a step back three that made me SMH for the twitter fans. It was a thing of pure beauty.

In the fourth, it was a duel of pace, with each offensive possession being crucial. Down 95-91 with about two and a half minutes, Durant got fouled on a drive, catching James out of position, and missed his only free throw of the night, but made the second. After James missed a 22-footer, Russell Westbrook answered with a pumpfake on James, who was stuck rotating, a hard defensive play, and made a nice 13-footer. 95-94. Then after LeBron missed a lay-up, good defense by the Thunder here being able to contest the shot and not foul, Jeff Green got to the line and sunk a pair, putting the Thunder up 96-95.

That left 56 seconds in the final period. For the next 47 seconds, no one scored. Anderson Varejao got to the line, but pulled a Pau Gasol by missing both attempts. At 13 seconds, Russell Westbrook tried to put the Thunder up three with a mid-range jumper but it hit back iron. James’ natural instinct kicked in off that miss, pushing the tempo, getting to the middle of the paint, and dishing it out to Boobie Gibson, who nailed a huge three with eight seconds remaining.

It was a goose neck, as they say.

Then the controversy happened. I will fully admit that the play LeBron James made was spectacular. It was a block that only, and it’s a maybe, Dwight Howard could make otherwise. But come on. KD got fouled by Anthony Parker. I don’t know how the foul effected the shot and LeBron may have blocked it anyways, but you have to call the foul there. Initially, you have Parker’s leg bang into Durant’s body and at the end of the shot, Parker gets Durant on the hand.

I reversed the situation: Thabo Sefolosha on LeBron, who drives to the lane, goes up, gets the same contact from Sefolosha that Durant got from Parker, and Durant swats it away, and asked Royce from the Daily Thunder if LeBron is shooting two after that. His response: “This is truth.”

Another blogger, Hardwood Paroxysm, said he thinks Durant gets that call in two years and we both agreed that Kobe gets that call now. He also thought that if LeBron doesn’t block it, or if, say Varejao, blocks it instead of James, Durant gets the call. I agree to an extent.

Anyways, that was a blemish in my mind. To add it all, the refs actually called a foul on Jeff Green, sending LeBron to the line, even though he went up and blocked the shot. I wasn’t sure where the foul could have been. Bron knocked down the free throws and Kevin Durant followed with a nice stat-padding triple.

LeBron finished with a ridiculous beast line of 37/12 assists/9 boards (six turnovers too, but only two after the first quarter). He came back from an odd shooting slump from deep (6%, yes, six, from beyond the arc in his previous two) by knocking down some tough three’s (like that beautiful step-back) to go six-of-10 from deep. As he is accustomed to doing, trying to do too much, LeBron tossed up a prayer on a late possession that wasn’t a good look, but he made up for it with the block. Twas an MVP type night if I have ever seen one.

James uncharacteristically struggled from the line, going 13-of-19. He was able to get the Cavs back into the game after Thunder runs by forcing the issue against the Thunder big men.

I watched the entire game, and I don’t remember a James dunk. This was a first.

Kevin Durant had an off night shooting the ball but got to the lineĀ  enough to rejuvenate his form. Durant had a double-double himself, notching 34 points on 25 shots with 10 boards. Durant hit his patented off the screen jumper a couple of times in big moments and got a big AND-1 in KD-iso on Jawad Williams.

It was a game for KD to grow on. His second heart breaking loss in a row, and I say his because he is the heart and soul of the team. His buddy Rudy Gay knocks down a jumper in his grill and tonight his future Olympic teammate stuffed his potential game tying shot.

Witness Protection had an amazing game. I tweeted that Nenad Krstic should be banned for his defense, but he couldn’t do anything about it. Well, he could have fouled him everyime down the court, but that wouldn’t have been effective. The Shaqtus had 22 points on eight-of-10 shooting with six boards. But, as his dad would be quick to point out, the Big Diesel shot six-of-15 from the charity stripe.

I wrote that entire paragraph without saying his actual name.

Playing the role of sidekick for Kevin Durant was Russell Westbrook. Russ had 23 points, getting the majority of his work done in close range of the basket. He was able to beat any defender on him off the dribble (except D-League call-up Cedric Jackson, who stopped him on one possession) and got to the cup several times to quiet the crowd DEEP IN THE Q.

I don’t think the no Mo Williams/Delonte West argument belittles the effort and performance the Thunder had. Boobie Gibson hit a triplet of trio’s with the game-winner being one of those, and Jawad Williams stepped up with a big 12 points on five-of-seven shooting, though he was quiet in the second half.

Quick thought: The Cavs may have something with Jackson as a defender.Derrick Rose followed up his 32-point nigh, in which he was unbelievable with his shot, by making just two jumpers, but getting into the paint and making important baskets. He had 20. Rookie Taj Gibson had a career high 16 rebounds to go along with 14 points. 16 boards is an impressive task against a Rockets team that prides itself on hustle, which is a main component to rebounding.

Brad Miller was the hero for Chicago, grabbing a rebound after Taj Gibson missed two free throws (the Bulls were only up two after the misses) and gave it to D-Rose, who iced it with a mid-range game. Miller had a game high 25 points.

Carl Landry carried the Rockets with 22 points off the bench on eight-of-14 shooting. Dwyane Wade has shot 56% in his past five games. He may be getting IT back. Wade had 27/8/4/3/1 on 11-of-15 shooting with three of those four misses coming from long range.

Michael Beasley had 21 and 13 with a couple of steals on 15 shots. 15 shots a game seems about right for him with one coming from deep.

Kevin Martin was one-of-seven again for five points. Tyreke Evans had 15 points on 10 shots.Steve Nash had 23 points, six assists and six turnovers. Robin Lopez had 16 and nine (six offensive) in his continued stretch of starts. He’s been playing his behind off. His offense will never be as good as his brother’s but that offense in Phoenix gives him some good rebounding opportunities.

Corey Maggette had 27 points and Stephen Curry had 25 on 25 shots for Golden State.The Pistons had three chances to tie this game but missed all three attempts. Martell Webster lead the Pistons with 28 points with six three’s and seven rebounds.Philly’s combo of forwards, Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young, combined to score 45 points on 37 shots with 18 rebounds. Jrue Holiday landed face first into the ground after Earl Watson fell on him and needed 12 stitches above his eye.

Danny Granger had 22 for Indy. Brandon Jennings had 18 points on 50% shooting along with 13 assists to lead the Bucks. Andrew Bogut had 14 points, six boards and four blocks. Carlos Delfino added 24 points on nine-of-11 shooting.

Jonny Flynn had 20 points for the T’Wolves and Kevin Love had 17 and 12.The Hornets got lucky as Carmelo Anthony missed two shots in the final seconds of regulation (one was blocked, one was a wide open 10 footer) to send it to OT. Chris Paul got the Hornets in it with a driving bucket.

In overtime, the Nuggets took over, but Melo hurt his ankle on a jumper.

Paul finished with 26 points, 10 assists and a couple of steals. Carmelo had 30 and 11 but took 28 shots to get there.This game was over after one quarter, but Sundiata Gaines was only able to get seven minutes of play for some reason. He was one-of-three from the field for two points.Stephen Jackson hit a layup with 1.4 seconds left in regulation to force the extra session. It would be worth nothing, though, as the Magic dominated overtime.

Dwight Howard finished with 10 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Gerald Wallace only had nine points on two-of-11 shooting.

Line Break

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Mark is an 18-year old sports fanatic that founded this website back in October of 2008. He is the lead contributor for this site and a credentialed member of the media for several sports leagues and organizations. Mark's main focus is the NBA, though he also covers MLB, NFL, and International events like the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Follow Mark on Twitter: @Mark_Travis

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