The Oklahoma City Thunder have come a long ways since their playoff debut as an eighth seed during the 2010 NBA playoffs. That series ended in six games with a buzzer-beating tip-in by Pau Gasol.
180 degrees later, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the kings and the Houston Rockets are the paupers.
The last three games of this series have been decided by eight points and the last two weren't over until a last second shot clanked off the rim. Down the stretch NBA Finals James Harden showed up--or didn't, depending on your outlook. while Parsons bossed out with 27 points.
Trailing 103 to 105, Thunder called a timeout before inbounding at halfcourt with 12 seconds remaining on the clock. Thunder coach Scott Brooks was undoubtedly hollering iso over and over at the top of his lungs based on the way the final possession played out. Unfortunately, it probably won't be on his coaching highlight reel in the future. Reggie Jackson tried to help out after everything broke down and Omer Asik (plus fomer coach Tom Thibodeau) should be credited for textbook defense, but Serge Ibaka had overtime in the palm of his hands.
Unfortunately, Ibaka was unable to duplicate his Olympic teammates' tip-in to help eliminate Houston. Now he'll have to live down this play as one of the lowlights of his otherwise illustrious career.
Durant made it be known in Game 3, that Oklahoma City was his city. Game 4 was about Durant showing us what he could do without a running mate, but every leader needs a second in command.
The last possession was a microcosm of the Thunder's problem without Russell Westbrook. Durant doesn’t need a Fonzworth Bentley to feed him the ball 25 feet from the basket at the top of the key. Westbrook was a speed demon with his own bad intentions for the rim. Moving forward Durant needs a secondary scorer to scoot over from the passenger’s seat when he gets tired to drive the whip through the Western Conference playoffs.
Game 4 was an audition for a slew of Thunder offensive understudies. In the second quarter, Kevin Martin did his best to come off the bench and slay his former franchise.
Oklahoma City outscored Houston 36-24 and Martin tipped the scales, slicing through the defense and scoring 10 of his 14 first half points. Abra ka dabra and he disappeared in the second half. Martin was butter knife dull, scoring just two points and went scoreless over the final 11:39.
Derek Fisher knocked down five treys and a sixth that was later subtracted upon further review. Fisher and his five championships have seen his role increase and he hit some pivotal shots behind the arc, but Oklahoma City isn’t gettig those numbers consistently from the NBA's Alfred Pennysworth.
The Thunder chipped away at the lead like Andy Dufresne,but in crunchtime, Durant was left to fend for himself. Serge Ibaka is the fourth member of the OKC Hot Boys, but as we saw on the final play, getting the ball in the hoop is not one of his specialties.
Serge Ibaka's reaction tonight is the polar opposite of Dikembe Mutombo's after the Nuggets/Sonics 1 v. 8 upset in 1994.— LaMar Gafford (@primetime2832) April 30, 2013
Serge Ibaka has to make that final shot. That was a 21 tip.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 30, 2013
!!!!!!! “@dart_adams: Serge Ibaka fainted dead away like Ms. Bailey in church after she caught the Holy Ghost after he blew the layup...”— Evan Barnes (@evan_b) April 30, 2013
Lmao RT @chappells_show: Who said The 6th Man dropkicked Serge Ibaka? Y'all goin to hell!— ΩVΩ James (@DOPEITSRILES) April 30, 2013