Tuesday’s three-game Western Conference slate was loaded with surprises, proving that even once six months of regular-season games and an almost complete 1st spherical, it’s still best to expect the surprising.
That’s to not say foregone conclusion took the night off.
The state capital Thunder’s season resulted in a savagely predictable means, with the Houston Rockets outscoring them 27-9 once Russell Westbrook Saturday and shutting out the series with a 105-99 win.
Kawhi Leonard was dependably monstrous in leading the city Spurs to a 116-103 conclusion over the Memphis Grizzlies, giving them a 3-2 series lead. however he got facilitate from antecedently absent sources, that the Spurs can count as a welcome surprise.
But from Westbrook showing signs of his humanity whereas spile up forty seven points to Gordon Hayward besting a nasty virus, Tuesday offered many shocks.
These ar those.
Russell Westbrook Got Some house
For, like, 5 minutes.
And that was regarding it.
But still, perhaps this can be one thing the Thunder ought to rely on once coming up with for next year.
Coming into Game five, the five-man unit of Russell Westbrook, Alex Abrines, Doug McDermott, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams had logged a plus-28.5 internet rating in barely 9 postseason minutes. Head coach Billy Donovan trotted it out midway through the primary quarter, that counts as a surprise—even if what ensued was in no means stunning.
Westbrook suddenly had area to work.
Houston continued to (justifiably) ignore Roberson, however misdirection plays involving Abrines and horns sets that sent McDermott flying toward the wing disorganized the Rockets defense and opened the lane for Russ to attack.
It’s a marvel what somewhat shooting will do, isn’t it?
Abrines hit only 1 of the four clean three-point appearance Westbrook generated together with his new way, however driving angles were obtainable, and therefore the state capital offense looked uncharacteristically fluid.
It was fun whereas it lasted, because the lineup did not see the court once more.
Turns out Time Travel Is Real
Eric Gordon had six dunks this season, ten skeletal muscle year and nil in sixty one games throughout 2014-15.
He’s not a high-flyer any longer, is that the purpose.
When Rockets owner Leslie Alexander walked on the sideline throughout the sport to speak with referee Bill Kennedy, he wasn’t protestant a decision. He was really asking Kennedy if traveling back in time to abduct the 2010 version of Gordon (with plans to insert him into Game 5) was a violation of any kind.
Alexander took Kennedy’s confused silence for the go-ahead, signaled to D’Antoni to sub in 2010 Gordon, and therefore the rest is preserved forever on an advert.
Russ Ran Out of Gas
Forget the triple-doubles; Westbrook’s best claim to the MVP this year was his unbelievable late-game performance.
He diode OKC to a clutch internet rating of plus-19.9 that stratified second within the league throughout the regular season, ne’er appeared to tire and invariably unemployed shots with additional freshness than a player together with his work had a right to show.
Westbrook, unusually, had nothing left down the stretch in Game five.
He shot 2-of-11 from the sector within the fourth, flung up hopeless threes (he was 0-of-5 within the amount and 5-of-18 on the night) and looked nothing just like the superhuman specimen that shrugged off fatigue all year.
If it’s attainable to stumble toward a 47-point end, he did it.
Even with shooting fouls mucking up the pace and providing ample time for him to rest within the fourth quarter, Westbrook simply ne’er found his legs. And tho’ the Thunder lost their grip on the sport within the three-minute stretch Russ Saturday to begin the closing quarter, obtaining outscored by ten points therein short span, the guy with the juice to bail them out all season gave the look of he’d been squeezed dry.
Everyone—even the apparently unsubduable Westbrook—has limits.
Manu Ginobili Scored
As I sit here staring with nice reverence at my several shrines to Manu Ginobili, i do not want I ought to ought to assert the extent of my respect, admiration and affinity for the 39-year-old veteran.
He’ll be within the Hall of Fame on the primary ballot, however he is been within the one that actually matters—the one in my heart—since roughly 2003.
But fop has been awful all postseason.
Ginobili finally, showing mercy notched his 1st points once fifty eight hitless minutes within the series on a herky-jerky drive down the left facet of the lane within the half-moon of Game five. He got fouled, trained the freebee and on his next try, buried a trey to tie the sport.
He destroyed eight points within the half-moon and finished with ten on 4-of-6 shooting.
And tho’ it’s likely overboard, let’s conjointly say he gave the remainder of the bench confidence and conjointly gets credit for Patty Mills cacophonous the nets for twenty immense points in San Antonio’s win.
“He turned [the game] around together with his energy,” Pau Gasol told reporters afterwards.
In isolation, it absolutely was smart to examine Ginobili get on the board. If this postseason is his last, going out with a null in a complete series would are devastating. however humourous aside, his impact galvanized a supporting forged that has largely abandoned Kawhi Leonard within the series and force back the curtain on a team that lacks offensive dynamism.
If the Spurs reserves get onto going systematically, it will get easier to believe this team is as dangerous because it was once its bench was destroying competition throughout the regular season.
Kawhi Leonard incomprehensible a charity shot
It’s a tiny purpose, however once you build forty two in a very row to begin the postseason, missing one penalty free throw counts as surprising.
Leonard finished with a game-high twenty eight points and tied Tony Parker with a team-best six assists, therefore it’s safe to mention his evening wasn’t marred by the clanked charity shot.
Chances ar, his AI writing is advanced enough to program a miss simply to throw off the scent of anyone obtaining too suspicious regarding him being a human-shaped laptop. It calculated that forty three straight makes would have blown his cowl.
That’s the simplest clarification, if you question me.
Troy Daniels Did alternative Things?
In maybe the strangest box score item of the night, Grizzlies sniping specialist Troy Daniels denote a plus-10 in ten minutes while not taking a trial.
Posting a plus-10 in a very game your team loses by thirteen is odd enough, except for Daniels to try to to it while not a field-goal try, well…it’s unfathomable. The guy’s basketball call tree is basically: “Can I shoot a 3 right now? If affirmative, shoot it. If no, move somewhere wherever shooting a 3 is feasible.”
A ridiculous seventy one.7 p.c of his shots were treys this year, and he averaged one.5 rebounds and zero.7 assists whereas enjoying zero defense.
Did he suddenly commit to swarm ball-handlers on D? Did he block six shots? Did he management the sport together with his mind?
Sometimes, those plus-minus numbers ar simply coincidences. that is the case here.
But man, that is a weird one.
Gordon Hayward Beat malady
I get that these guys ar walking basketball companies with immense restorative resources and a vast incentive to use them, however malady, if you have ever had it, is a vile, enervating, unholy expertise.
Even with some of days off and various fluid filling, it’s wonderful Gordon Hayward compete like he did within the Mormon State Jazz’s 96-92 convert the la Clippers in Game five.
After missing Game four with a case of the crawl crud, Hayward looked none the more serious for wear.
Utah’s All-Star wing denote twenty seven points, eight rebounds and 4 assists on 9-of-16 shooting and diode Mormon State to a important win on the road. because of Hayward’s enteric resiliency, the Jazz space headed back home for a probably series-clinching Game half dozen.
Try more durable next time, “sandwich from an area.” Hayward cannot be knocked out (for quite one game) by you.
Chris Paul did not Do additional
It’s not shocking that the Clippers lost, or that they appear ticketed for yet one more early competition out.
That’s kind of their whole.
But what did not appear seemingly heading into Game five was a mortal performance from Chris Paul, who, to the present purpose, had been the Clippers’ superhero.
With averages of twenty six.8 points, 10.8 assists and half dozen.0 rebounds through Game four, Paul had been the most effective player within the series by a substantial margin—using the series to associate degreenounce an equivalent factor he will nearly each postseason: that he is an MVP-caliber talent WHO can be the most effective to ever play the purpose guard position.
And head coach Doc Rivers even went with some reverse science, telling Mark Medina of the LA Daily News before Game 5: “I do not know if he will do additional. he is solely done everything.”
You’d suppose Paul’s natural response would are to try to to everything…and then do even additional of it. That he’d be somehow bigger than ever.
But he was just his usual level of nice, posting twenty eight points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds in defeat.
None of this can be his fault. The Clippers, as they exist currently, ar a lottery team while not him.
But it felt cheap to expect the globe of Paul during this one.
Joe Johnson continued creating a distinction
I don’t care if it has been happening all series.
It does not matter if he hit a game-winner and has used an equivalent deliberate, bulk-based retraction game that such a lot of observers hard on to require over fourth quarters against the Clips.
It simply ne’er appeared attainable that Joe Johnson would keep doing it.
But there he was in Game five, striking key threes to interrupt Clippers runs, marking fourteen points, concealing a dagger with below twenty seconds left to push the cause 5 and stabilising a young Jazz team that required it.
As steady as Johnson has been all year and as clearly suited as his game is for high-leverage minutes at power forward within the fashionable NBA, it’s gorgeous that he is still creating his mark on a competition series in 2017.
Yet here we tend to ar.
Patrick Beverley Laughed Last
Rockets thorn patron saint Beverley is additional of associate degree action guy.
A frantic, MCL-spraining, violence-inciting, under-your-skin instigator quite action guy.
So once he sedately heaped-up verbal shade on Westbrook post-elimination, it absolutely was associate degree unexpected treat.