Mendoza: This time, the coach can be really rude

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Saturday, May 18, 2013


NO, there is no Miami versus Oklahoma in the NBA Finals.

No rematch of their 2012 NBA title showdown won by the Heat.

Memphis grisly made sure of that, the Grizzlies beating the Thunder in Game 5, 88-84, for a 4-1 Memphis triumph en route to the Western Conference Finals against either San Antonio or Golden State.

San Antonio and Golden State were playing Game 6 as I was rushing this to beat the deadline, with the Spurs leading the best-of-seven series, 3-2.

On the Eastern side, Miami’s furlough got extended after New York breathed life into its playoff intentions, defeating Indiana in Game 5 to cut the Pacers’s lead to 3-2.

I watched Game 5 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series and very clearly, Kevin Durant was totally fagged out. If he were a horse, he’d be walking instead of running, his tongue out, gasping for breath.

The Thunder’s scoring machine was a mere 2-of-13 going to the fourth quarter, even as OKC outscored Memphis in the third, 24-14, to cut the Grizzlies’s lead to just two, 64-62.

With a mere five points going to the payoff period, Durant was simply worn out. It showed in his shots.

When Durant missed that makeable jumper with ticks remaining that could have tied the game at 86, it was without a doubt fatigue had caught up with him.

Well, if you play game-long for several games, you will conk out as you are but human.

But that was the only option left for Thunder coach Scott Brooks in the absence of Russell Westbrook.

Since Westbrook suffered a leg injury on April 24 that required surgery and sidelined him for the rest of the season, the Thunder, supposedly the best this season with its unassailable No. 1 ranking, weren’t the best anymore.

“With this team healthy, we can beat any team with my team,” said Brooks in a pointed reference to his star guard, Westbrook.

Westbrook watched Game 5 in anguish on TV while in his hospital bed recovering.

All told, the Thunder didn’t only walk wounded since April 24. Without Westbrook, the Thunder played without lightning.

In answer to a sportswriter’s question, Brooks said: “Are we a better team with Russell? That’s the easiest question you’ve asked all year.”

With a bleeding heart, a coach is bound to be rude.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2013.

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