Kevin Durant scored 21 points to lead six double-figure scorers for defending NBA champion Golden State and the Warriors pulled away in the third quarter to beat Utah 126-101 on Wednesday. The Warriors hit 33-of-46 shots in the second half, outscoring the Jazz 42-22 in the third quarter to blow open a close game in which Durant — who added six rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots — didn’t play in the fourth quarter. Continue reading “Durant leads Warriors over Utah, Cavaliers fall to Kings”

Kevin Durant Seattle

Kevin Durant likes Seattle, and he wants them to know it.

Durant, who played his rookie season for the Seattle Supersonics before the team relocated to Oklahoma City, scored 63 points in a game at the Jamal Crawford Summer Pro-Am, in front of about 3,000 fans. According to Crawford, Durant took his own jet to play and really wanted to make sure the fans understood that he missed playing in Seattle.

Kevin Durant Goodman League
Source:GAMEFACE-PHOTOS

Some of the top stories in the world of basketball today:

Missouri may be having second thoughts about hiring coach Frank Haith from Miami after last week’s news of potentially massive recruiting violations at the U. But Missouri, for now, is content to take a wait-and-see approach. Officially, the university says there were no red flags in hiring Haith.

Following their much-publicized brawl with a Chinese team, the Georgetown Hoyas have become a hot ticket in Shanghai, and it’s caused coach John Thompson III more headaches than he anticipated for this trip:

“It would be misleading if didn’t say that the last couple of days have been trying and stressful,” Thompson told ABC News. “But for me as coach and for the players it’s good to get back on the court.

It’s not clear if Delonte West is seriously looking for a job in retail, but last week he Tweeted that he had put in an application at Home Depot.

With the strong possibility of no NBA season this year, or at least, no professional basketball in the United States for some time, sports media focused on summer games at Rucker Park and various Pro-Ams like never before. The Drew League vs. Goodman League battle managed to even land on the front page of ESPN.

By James Blackburn

Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (L) and forward Kevin Durant (R) celebrate after Harden scored a 3-point shot against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 7 of their second round Western Conference NBA basketball playoffs in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 15, 2011. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Second Round of Western Conference NBA Playoffs- Game 7
Thunder win 105-90

Box Score

Scouting Reports

Thunder

James Harden (31 min, 6-10 FG, 4-8 3pt, 4 reb, 3 assist, 4 steals, 17 TP)

Strengths – Smart player who makes good decisions. Solid all-around type player who is versatile and can do many things well; reminds me of Josh Howard. He plays a similar role to the one that Howard played in Dallas. Spaces the floor with his outside shooting. Has the ability to shoot with feet set off the catch, and can also create his own offense where he can shoot off the dribble and attack the basket because of athleticism. Poised and calm throughout game. Good rebounder and passer. Moves well without the ball and floats to the right area of the floor where guard can see him off of penetration. Plays the passing lines well and is a solid defender in general.

Weaknesses – One of the things that makes Harden so good is that he does a great job of maximizing his skills and strengths, and minimizing his weaknesses. With that said, Harden needs to continue to improve his dribbling. Sometimes when he attacks the basket, his handle is a little shaky and he losses control. He was ineffective from the line today (1-4) but has been a 80% FT shooter for his career.

Overview – The more and more I get to watch Harden the more I like his game and the way he plays. He is not flashy and is humble in how he plays. He is such an all-around talent and contributes in so many ways to help his team win. Harden is probably one of the reasons the Thunder were willing to part ways with Jeff Green (among others, like needing another big). The trade has allowed Harden to play more minutes and to become the third option behind Durant and Westbrook. He is stepped into this new role and has flourished. Harden continues to improve every year and his contributions will continue to go mostly unnoticed because of Durant and Westbrook playing on the same team. Has the potential to be an All Star with in a couple of years.

Grizzlies

Zach Randolph (38 minutes, 6-15 FG, 5-6 FT, 10 reb, 1 blk, 1 st, 17 TP)

Strengths – Great midrange shooter. Can hit the 15-18 foot jump shot with consistency from any angle, but he prefers the baseline. Good pick-and-pop player because of shooting ability. Does a good job of drawing contact. Does a good job of shielding more athletic and taller defenders with body and creating space with his strength and width. Patient in the post. Does a nice job of catching, turning, and facing the basket, where he displays solid footwork and patience and takes what the defense gives him – very much like Tim Duncan in that regard. Lefty. Never gives up on the play – scrappy and physical, not the prettiest game. Unconventional style.

Weaknesses – Does a decent job of getting up and down the floor for size, but needs to continue working on getting back on D quicker. Poor P/R defense. Not athletic or long, but uses size well like Charles Barkley used to. Good rebounder in general, but missed more than a couple of box out assignments from the weak side today where his man got the offensive rebound and scored. Forced some shots early in the game against great post defense, but in the second half did a better job of passing out of the double team. He only had 1 assist, but this can not be blamed solely on Randolph. The Grizzlies team struggled today from the field hitting only 39% for the game.

Overview – One of Randolph’s best seasons since being in the NBA. Rewarded by being named to the All-NBA 3rd team. Not the best performance by the big man today, but give OKC players credit. They did a great job defending him and threw some double teams on him in the second half. The Grizzlies ran the offense through him practically the entire second him, but Randolph had difficulty scoring over Ibaka and Collison today.

Shane Battier (27 min, 2-6 FG, 4 reb, 1 st, 4 TP)

Strengths – Good set shooter from 3. Talks on defense and does a good job of playing help defense and being in good defensive position. Gets hand up on shooters.

Weaknesses – Good defender in general, but is slow moving laterally. Can not create his own offense. On a 2 on 1 break, he floated to the corner for the 3, when he could have had a wide open lay up.

Overview – Battier was a great pick up for Memphis and was one of the most underrated and overlooked mid-season pickups in the NBA this year. Battier’s grit, toughness, and smarts were one of the big reasons Memphis had made it this far. He has taken a lot of the principals that were taught to him at Duke and carried them to the NBA. Great role player.

Marc Gasol (37 min, 4-10 FG, 4-4 FT, 7 reb, 2 blk, 12 TP)

Strengths – Strong rebounder. Good passer; throws good outlet passes to guards leaking out. Sets wide screens. Great post defender, plays big and tough, makes himself tall and wide. Likes turn around jumper from over his right shoulder.

Weaknesses – Must continue to work on midrange/FT area jumper. Kendrick Perkins would give him a lot of space and dare him to shoot that shot today. Complained to the officials several times about a no call, while other team went down court and scored.

Overview – Gasol is a great complementary piece next to Randolph. He does all the dirty work, defends, and sets screens. Any scoring he does is an added bonus. His offensive game has improved immensely since coming into the league. Settled for the easy play today at times offensively instead of attacking, evidence by his 4-10 shooting. Gasol and Randolph should serve as one of the league’s most feared front courts for years to come.

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James Blackburn has a one-on-one interview with former NBA and ABA scorer Luther “Ticky” Burden, who talks about playing back in the day against players like Dr. J and what it was like to watch his scoring record broken after 36 years by Kevin Durant a few months ago in the FIBA world championships.

James also got a comment near the end of the video from Kevin about breaking Luther’s record. This is a great conversation for some deep basketball history, where Ticky talks about everything from being recruited out of New York in 8th grade to lighting up Phil Ford when Ford was a freshman at UNC.

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By Marcus Shockley

The question, beyond whether the team of NBA players who have joined in to play with Team USA at this year’s FIBA World Championship is good enough, or whether the team is lacking in depth of talent, is whether the United States is still the basketball powerhouse that they’ve always been.

Not even the Brazilian soccer team can claim the dominance of a global sport like the US has over basketball. This year, with most of the starting players from the Beijing Gold Medal run opting out this summer, there have been reams of paper devoted to the idea that the United States was putting out a team of lesser players and would struggle.

So, as the United States finished first in their group after defeating Iran today, let’s talk about that concept and set aside some pretty silly myths.

Yes, basketball around the world has gotten better over the past twenty years. Pundits will point to the fact that nearly every team the United States plays in FIBA competition will have at least one if not several NBA players on their roster. This is also true.

However, the United States team is made up of entirely of NBA players. Not one player. Not three players. All of the US roster is made of NBA players. And most of the players on the United States roster don’t just hold a roster spot, either. As much of an achievement it is for a player from Slovenia to land in the NBA, it’s an entirely different achievement to start for a playoff team.

So it puts into perspective the wins by the United States. Sure, they can lose, but when they do, it’s all based on their own play. The talents the United States has is just so over the top that the biggest concern is the lack of focus and discipline that too many NBA players have.

But it isn’t losing. Not even for the ‘B Team’.

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Kevin Durant summer league
Image Source: ESPN

By James Blackburn

Game 3- 5:00 game
Boston (0-1) vs. OKC (1-0)
Thunder win 87-82
Box Score

GAME NOTES

• Boston was very patient at the beginning of the game, not forcing shots and sharing the ball.

• Boston played good team defense and closed out on the shooters.

• The Thunder brought Harden, White, Ibaka, Weaver, and Maynor with them- went from being the youngest team in the NBA to the most experienced team at Summer League.

• The Thunder started off sluggish, but came out in the second half with a bang- and eventually just wore Boston out- with its size and athleticism.

• Kevin Durant was present, sitting on the Thunder bench.

Scouting Reports

Celtics

Luke Harangody ( 27 min., 9-13 FG, 4-6 3 pt., 4 reb., 1 blk., 23 tp)- Very solid showing from the rookie out of Notre Dame. Luke proved a lot of skeptics wrong in this game. Luke is an excellent 3 pt shooter, with a quick release and great form. He plays good defense too, always displaying a hand in the shooters face. He also looked a lot trimmer and cut from his college days. Luke is generously listed at 6’8”, but is more like 6’6”. The Celtics might want to think about moving him to play SF, as Pierce backup. He sets solid screens and is a good P and Pop guy. Has a fluid jumper, gets his feet set and doesn’t look hurried. Keeps ball high on rebounds. Displayed the ability to put the ball on the floor and draw the foul or score. Good P and R defense. Not very athletic but had great block on Mullins in 4th quarter. Will play hard the entire game.

Jaycee Carroll ( 29 min., 6-16 FG, 1-4 3pt, 2 reb., 4 ass, 13 tp)- Carroll out of Utah State had a good outing. He is a great shooter who can stroke it from anywhere on the court. He can also make plays off the dribble. He is a pest on defense who will get in you and closeout well.

Thunder

Eric Maynor (33 min, 7-13 FG, 1-1 3pt, 3 reb, 5 ass, 15 tp)- Eric may have had the best performance of a PG all day. Showed the entire package: great shooter, good passer, controlled the game and ran the offense. He showed good body control in the air, with the ability to finish in traffic. Has a nice floater and is a crafty player once he reaches the paint. Has a nice right to left crossover, that is extremely quick.

Serge Ibaka( 17 min., 2-5 FG, 5 reb., 6 tp)- Very strong and physical player. Got hurt in second half and did not return. Is a very good defender, who is a presence in the pain with good shot blocking skills. Has developed a nice sweeping hook going to his right.

Byron Mullens ( 33 min., 6-12 FG, 12-15 FT, 7 reb., 24 tp)- The Celtics did not have an answer for Mullens in the P and R. Mullens, a second year player out of Ohio State, made a living this game at the FT line, where he took advantage hitting 12 FT. Does a great job rolling to the basket, catching the ball, gathering himself and attacking the basket, where he got fouled repeatedly. Very good FT shooter for big man. Athletic player, who is also a solid rebounder.

James Harden (34 min., 2-6 FG, 15-18 FT,3 reb, 2 st, 19 tp)- Harden started off the game deferring to teammates and trying to get everyone involved, but cam out the second half firing and taking command of the game. The Thunder put him in a lot of P and R situations with Mullens with him as the ball handler, which the Celtics did not have an answer for. Harden is very athletic and strong. He is great at attacking the basket, where he can finish with contact. One time he tried to dunk on Harangody- all Luke could do was push him with 2 hands. Is creative and composed with ball in his hands, good things would happen when he would touch it. Had a game saving block on jump shot at end of game.