By John Harris |@JHBasketball
Thunder turn the tables on the Spurs, reduce deficit with Game 3 victory:
It’s been a while since the world saw the frustrated, furrowed brow of San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich; 50 days in fact. That’s how long it’s been since the Spurs last dropped a game, their streak ended last night by a fired-up Thunder team playing in front of an energetic home crowd. San Antonio’s starters combined for only 33pts (vs OKC’s 69) and Manu Ginobili (8pts on 1-5FG, 4 turnovers) had a game to forget as the Thunder dialed-up their defensive intensity and took this game to the Spurs. OKC had 14 steals and forced the Spurs into 21 turnovers as the Texan club’s feted offense spluttered. Rarely-used big man Dejuan Blair was a bright spot for San Antonio, dropping 10pts and grabbing 6 boards in under 10 minutes of garbage time.
The Thunder had 5 players in double figures and even though veteran Derek Fisher couldn’t match his impact in Game 2, he provided valuable experience off-the-bench and kept his team focused throughout. OKC were almost using San Antonio’s blueprint of quick ball movement against them and Kevin Durant often found himself the recipient of the extra pass before heading in for the hoop. The Thunder had to make a statement in this game and show that the Spurs were vulnerable. Mission accomplished, but they will need to stay sharp for Game 4 as they can be sure that Pop’s team won’t play 2 bad ones in a row.
Phil Jackson interested in Magic role but eventually declines; will be back in the NBA?:
Legendary coach Phil Jackson — who retired from basketball following the 2010-11 season — has closed the door on talks to be involved in a major shake-up at the Orlando Magic. The story — first reported by the Orlando Sentinel — has former Magic guard Sam Vincent putting together a proposal that included Jackson and several members of his previous bench crew to Orlando CEO Alex Martins.
“It drew some interest from Phil, but in the end, Phil decided to go with another opportunity [...] In my capacity, I was trying to put together something that would be in the best interest of the Magic.”
- Sam Vincent
Vincent — a former Head Coach himself with the Charlotte Bobcats — is believed to still be interested in pursuing opportunities with the Magic, albeit without the services of the Zen Master.
Randy Wittman returning to coach improving Wizards:
The Washington Wizards — who endured the second-worst record in the NBA — have decided to bring back Head Coach Randy Wittman for at least one more season. Wittman took over mid-way through the season to replace the fired Flip Saunders and has been a long-time assistant in the League. The Wizards only went 18-31 under Wittman but did finish the season on a 6-0 tear and can look forward to adding the 3rd pick in the draft to a mix that includes John Wall, Nene and promising young big-man Jan Vesely. If they can jettison the bad influence (Andray Blatche) and bad contract (Rashard Lewis) then expect the Wizards to push ahead in next year’s wide-open Eastern Conference.
Will OKC level up the series or was this a minor blip in the Spurs’ run? Where would you like to see Phil Jackson land in the League? Have the Wizards made the right choice, what’s their ceiling for 2012-13? Let us know below!
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