By John Harris |@JHBasketball
Heat steal one in OKC, incredible battle of the stars continues:
The Oklahoma City Thunder need to get out of the habit of falling into early deficits. For the second game running OKC found themselves down 10 in the first quarter after Miami raced out of the blocks, unfortunately for the Thunder the final result wasn’t the same. Lebron James harassed (and fouled? didn’t foul?) Kevin Durant on the final shot that clanged out and Miami sealed it from the line to take the 100-96 victory on the road and grab the advantage in their best-of-7 NBA Finals series.
James was unstoppable once again with 32pts, 8rbs, 5ast and numerous bulldozing drives into the heart of the Thunder defense for impossible finishes. Chris Bosh was re-inserted into the starting line-up and responded with 16pts and 15 boards in 40 minutes. The main dagger (outside of James’ relentless attacking) was Shane Battier, who stepped up for Miami to the tune of 17pts (5-7 from downtown) and made big shot after big shot to slow the Thunder comeback.
For OKC it was the big three of Durant, Westbrook and Harden that fueled the comeback bid after they found themselves down early. Those 3 combined for 80 of OKC’s 96pts and were responsible for some huge shots down the stretch. Westbrook hit a tough And-1 under pressure from James and Durant knocked down a clutch trifecta to get within two late in the 4th but it wasn’t enough for the Thunder who must now win in South Beach to keep their title dreams alive.
“This is a good team and we didn’t want to be down 2-0. We know in order to accomplish our goal, we have to win on the road. We’re a good road team. We’ve done it before. They posed a great challenge because they haven’t lost up until today. But we felt that we let one get away and we felt that we could play a much, much better game in Game 2.”
- Chris Bosh
Florida’s Donovan keen to make an impact on USA u18 squad:
University of Florida Men’s Head Coach Billy Donovan will sit on the bench as Head Coach of Team USA u18s this Saturday for the first time as they compete in the FIBA Americas Under 18 Championship in Brazil. Donovan will be joined on the bench by Mark Few of Gonzaga and Shaka Smart, who led VCU on their Cinderella run to the Final Four last year.
“It’s a great honour. I know Mark Few feels the same way. So does Shaka. I think these kids here do, too. And I think USA basketball does a great job explaining to these guys what they are playing for, who they are playing for. There is a level of pride, there is a level of enthusiasm, and you can see it in the kids that are out there playing.”
Donovan has a strong record of developing young talent and several of his former players have gone on to success in the NBA including Chicago center Joakim Noah and Atlanta Hawks (and Dominican Republic) big man Al Horford, who both played at Florida. Donovan also recruited Jason ‘White Chocolate’ Williams when he was a Head Coach at Marshall University, and Williams followed Donovan to Florida before leaving for the NBA where he spent 13 years.
The USA u18 team head into the tournament as heavy favourites, holding an all-time 38-2 record since they began competing in 1990. Two years ago former Duke star Austin Rivers scored 20ppg and led the team to a 5-0 record and the gold medal. The top 4 teams at the event will qualify for the FIBA World Under 18 Championships in 2013. The 8 countries taking part are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Bulls move practise facility downtown:
After a disappointing season the Chicago Bulls are moving their practise and operational facilities out of their current suburban home and into downtown Chicago in a move that is being linked to a future expansion of the United Center. Speaking to ESPN Chicago Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf denied the move had anything to do with a potential expansion of ‘The House Michael Built’ however it would make sense for the Bulls to centralise operations should that expansion come about.
“The mayor asked me if we would bring the Bulls back downtown and I’m so impressed with the job he’s doing, I thought it was the natural and right thing to do to support him. We knew we had to make the Berto bigger because we had run out of space and we can’t expand on the site, and we wanted to look up north to see if there was another site.”
- Jerry Reinsdorf
Does Miami’s Game 2 victory change your Finals prediction? USA u18s favourites for Worlds again? Let us know below!
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