Let the Memphis Conspiracy Theories Begin

Let the Memphis Conspiracy Theories Begin

Blaming refs, blaming league officials, blaming any outside force they can think of is exactly what almost all fans do once their team has been eliminated from the postseason. Hell, the conspiracy theories out of Memphis had already started before Game 7 even tipped.

Kevin Durant led all scorers with his 33 points. Here he is with that scowl I like to see from him. Get mad, KD!

Kevin Durant led all scorers with his 33 points. Here he is with that scowl I like to see from him. Get mad, KD!

I was seeing ignorant drivel on my Facebook feed to the likes of:

“They only suspended Z-Bo because they can’t afford to have their MVP ousted from the 1st round.”

“That wasn’t a punch! That was a shove!”

“The Grizz would have won if the refs weren’t playing for OKC.”

The last statement made me laugh. If that were the case, why did the Grizzlies take 34 free throws to the Thunder’s 30 in Game 7? Why did they take 28 free throws to the Thunder’s 25 in Game 6? Why did the Grizz take 26 free throws to the Thunder’s 19 in Game 5? Why did they take 23 free throws to the Thunder’s 20 in Game 4? The refs gave the Grizz chance after chance. It’s not the NBA’s fault that the Grizzlies couldn’t cash in at the line.

Russell Westbrook's 27-point, 16-assist, 10-rebound triple-double proved historic.

Russell Westbrook’s 27-point, 16-assist, 10-rebound triple-double proved historic.

And to the idiots saying Zach Randolph only pushed Steven Adams and didn’t punch him, this tape proves otherwise.

And some sad Memphis fans still willfully put blinders on and called it a push on the video. The butthurt in the comments section is very strong. I guess I’d be disappointed too if my team had a chance to eliminate a #2 seed in Game 6, only to suffer a monumental 2-game collapse and blow the series. Quit making excuses for a thug like Randolph! He has a history of pulling this crap, and that history is what likely prompted the decision to suspend him. If you can’t hold your emotions in check, you’re in the wrong league. This is not Rucker Park, or The Cage on West 4th St. No blood, no foul does not apply to the NBA. This is a league of professionals, and anyone who fails to conduct themselves in a professional manner suffers the consequences. It doesn’t really matter anyway, because what’s done is done. Hell, I’m done with the Randolph issue. Let’s take a look at these Game 7 numbers.

Serge Ibaka dropped 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Serge Ibaka dropped 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

The Thunder used a total team effort in Game 7 to advance. Kevin Durant’s 33 points led all scorers to take the floor. Russell Westbrook’s 27-point, 16-assist, 10-rebound triple-double marks his 2nd Game 7 triple-double for his postseason career, making him only the 2nd player in NBA history to accomplish the feat, with Rajon Rondo being the 1st. The stat line also makes him the 3rd player in NBA history to score at least 25 points, dish out at least 15 assists, and pull down at least 10 rebounds in an NBA playoff game. Oscar Robinson was the first to accomplish this feat, and Chris Paul (who the Thunder will see in the next round) has accomplished it on two separate occasions. Not only that, but Westbrook’s 16 assists ties a postseason franchise record that was set by Nate McMillan back in ’87, when they were still the Seattle Supersonics. Serge Ibaka was good for 12 points, and Caron Butler scored 15 as he once again started at SG in place of Thabo Sefolosha. While you figure Sefolosha would be a little miffed at being benched, it looks like he took it in stride. I’m sure he feels like any lineup changes that result in an NBA Championship are more than welcome. I know that’s how I’d feel about it if I were in his position. But to conclude, Reggie Jackson came off of the bench to drop 16 points. With a 120-109 victory, those 16 points were the difference between an 11-point victory and a 5-point defeat. When at least one bench player scores big, the Thunder put themselves in a much better position to win.

Caron Butler scores 15 starting in place of Thabo Sefolosha for the 2nd straight game.

Caron Butler scores 15 starting in place of Thabo Sefolosha for the 2nd straight game.

Marc Gasol’s 24 points led the Grizzlies, but Mike Conley deserves some credit for dropping 20 points while playing on a bad hamstring. Courtney Lee dropped 16, and Tony Allen was good for 15 points starting in place of Tayshaun Prince and playing with an eye injury. Beno Udrih came off of the Grizzlies bench to score 12.

Reggie Jackson was good for 16 points off of the Thunder bench.

Reggie Jackson was good for 16 points off of the Thunder bench.

I will bring you the Thunder-Clippers series preview tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the series victory. Stay basketball-hungry, my friends.

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Starters Sit For 4th As Thunder Dominate Celtics

Starters Sit For 4th As Thunder Dominate Celtics

I’m not going to lie to you here. When I saw the Thunder building another double-digit lead, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I ended up watching well into the 4th, despite our starters sitting (or maybe because of it). I think there was actually about 4 minutes left when I finally quit watching, confident that the Thunder lead would hold up.

Kendrick Perkins with the jam, as Kris Humphries look on. Perkins finished with 12 points. Humphries contributed 14 from the Celtics bench.

Kendrick Perkins with the jam, as Kris Humphries look on. Perkins finished with 12 points. Humphries contributed 14 from the Celtics bench.

The Celtics tried to hang around early, even up 9-7 with 8:42 to play in the first. Then an immediate 10-0 Thunder run put the Thunder up 17-9 with just under 7 minutes left in the 1st, and the Celtics never could regain the lead.

Serge Ibaka attempts a one-hander over Jeff Green. Ibaka finished with a 17-point, 11-ebound double-double. Jeff Green ended his night with 19 points.

Serge Ibaka attempts a one-hander over Jeff Green. Ibaka finished with a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double. Jeff Green ended his night with 19 points.

Although I was quick to notice that we weren’t the only ones missing our starting point guard. While Russell Westbrook’s “water on the knee” issue will leave him out for at least another month-and-a-half, Rajon Rondo missed last night’s game due to a torn ACL. The reports on Rondo’s return seem rather hazy. Even though he has been cleared to practice, and has been since mid-December, Rondo has been quoted as saying,

Rajon Rondo warms up in practice with teammate Kelly Olynyk. Rondo did not play in last night's contest, despite being cleared to practice.

Rajon Rondo warms up in practice with teammate Kelly Olynyk. Rondo did not play in last night’s contest, despite being cleared to practice.

“It might be mid-January, late February, I’m going to come back when the time is right and I get my stamina.”

Rondo on the sidelines.

Rondo on the sidelines.

As a matter of fact, I’ve even heard reports that Rondo may play for the Maine Red Claws in the NBA’s D-League for a few games, so he can test his endurance in game action. It’s not set in stone that he will spend time in the D-League, but Rondo himself even acknowledged the possibility.

Rondo in game action.

Rondo in game action.

So why exactly am I devoting numerous paragraphs to a Celtics player who didn’t even hit the floor last night? It’s because I feel like his presence would have made this an entirely different ball game. I’m sure we would have still pulled off the victory, but Rondo would have made us work for it.

Reggie Jackson looks for the outlet pass around Jordan Crawford. Jackson's 27 points led all scorers to take the floor last night, while Crawford chipped in 17 points for the Celtics.

Reggie Jackson looks for the outlet pass around Jordan Crawford. Jackson’s 27 points led all scorers to take the floor last night, while Crawford chipped in 17 points for the Celtics.

The big surprise is that the 21 points scored by Kevin Durant didn’t even lead the team. Reggie Jackson absolutely went off last night, scoring a career-high 27 points. Another big surprise is that while Serge Ibaka posted a wicked 17-point, 11-rebound double-double, his “twin tower partner”, Kendrick Perkins, actually dropped 12 points of his own. And as far as bench points go, Jeremy Lamb’s 13 points made sure we saw a healthy amount of them.

Jeremy Lamb with the pull-up jumper. Lamb contributed 13 points from the Thunder bench.

Jeremy Lamb with the pull-up jumper. Lamb contributed 13 points from the Thunder bench.

Jeff Green and Avery Bradley dropped 19 apiece for the Celtics, leading the team. Jordan Crawford added 17 points, and Kris Humphries dropped 14 from the Celtics bench.

Kevin Durant goes for the one-handed floater as Humphries and Avery Bradley look on. Durant was good for 21 points last night, while Bradley was good for 19.

Kevin Durant goes for the one-handed floater as Humphries and Avery Bradley look on. Durant was good for 21 points last night, while Bradley was good for 19.

This was a good win for the Thunder, but they’re back on the road again as they prepare for a Tuesday night match-up with the Utah Jazz. The game emanates from Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, UT. The broadcast can be picked up via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.