Shannon Brown

NBA Opening Night Review and Reaction

By Chuck Araneta

After four L-O-N-G months of Lebron, Free Agency, Lockout fears, Lebron, World Championships, Lebron and so much more in between, we’re finally at the start of the NBA Season! It’s safe to say that this season is one of the most hotly anticipated ones, with so many teams raring to prove themselves as more than pretenders. We just concluded Opening Night in the NBA with three quality games on tap for us to peruse, starting with the Miami Heat taking on the Boston Celtics. If we’re gonna start this thing, it’s best to go hard!

 

Lebron and the Heat couldn't quite catch the Cs

 

Boston beats Miami 88-80

Nope, the world didn’t implode; Lebron and co. didn’t spank the C’s by 50 points. If anything, this opening game showed how much work they still have to put in to be even considered in the same breath as Orlando and Boston. The Celtics played solidly all throughout, with Rajon Rondo planting himself as the go-to leader on the floor for his Celtics. In the first quarter he orchestrated the Celtics attack like a maestro, setting up Shaq for two monster dunks, Ray Allen for Sweet Js and Paul Pierce for his dynamic scoring. It’s safe to say that Rondo is the puppet master for the Celtics, and they are definitely in good hands. And while Miami is now 0-1, this definitely won’t last. They’re too talented and too powerful not to put things together. And when all else fails, they can just get the ball to Lebron and follow his lead. Wade’s gotta get his mind in the game though.

Portland rallies against Phoenix 106-92

It’s going to be a tough season for Phoenix. Heck, even Steve Nash admitted as much in a recent interview. But this team has shades of that overachieving 2006 season when they lost Amare to injuries, and would gut out wins by playing together and sniping from outside. So their first game against the Portland Trailblazers was a test of how cohesive they would be without a single inside presence to dump the ball into. It worked for 3 quarters, but the offense sputtered when Portland decided to small-ball against the Suns, inserting Nicolas Batum at the 4th. And from there, Portland gave them a taste of their own medicine, hitting trey after trey to rally and grab the victory. How good did Batum look? While Brandon Roy is unquestionably their best player, he may be catching up to LaMarcus Aldridge in the hierarchy for the Blazers. And he’s making me regret passing on him in my fantasy drafts! Phoenix will battle, but that may not be enough.

Lakers come from behind and take out Houston, 112-110

 

Sparkplugs

 

 

All off-season, Lakers faithful were talking how great Steve Blake would be for the bench of LA. I didn’t see it, and thought he would just be a nice piece to have but would wilt under the bright LA lights. Well for one game, I was completely wrong. Teaming up with Shannon Brown (really?!?!), LA stole this one from the Rockets with some timely shooting from outside, on championship ring night. Nice way for the Lakers to grab the victory even while sleepwalking through the first three quarters. Just goes to show how much talent the defending back to back champions have. Houston also showed how talented they are, now that they have Yao back to man the middle. At least for 24 minutes. Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks will be a headache of a backcourt (for the opposition as well as Rick Adelman given their poor defense), and Luis Scola continues to be awesome. If the Rockets can learn how to finish games strongly, they may make some noise in the Playoffs.

So that concludes Opening Night in the NBA. Tonight is gonna be awesome with so many great games lined up.

Can’t wait to get things poppin’!

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Top 10 Poster-ers

By: Zach Silvernial (OTC Contributor)

The OuttaTownClowns would like to welcome Zach Silvernail to the blog, we’re happy to announce he’s the newest edition to our growing blog. Zach will primarily focus on contributing to our NCAA Basketball and NBA content on the page. Along with his well-written work, Zach has a great knowledge and high level understanding of the game at both the collegiate and pro levels of play. But don’t take us from us, follow his work on our blog and you’ll see for yourself. Without further ado, I bring you Zach’s debut post on the OTC…Enjoy!

There is nothing more exciting, and often times amusing, than watching a guy get dunked on. With so many incredible athletes now in the NBA, it’s something that seems to happen almost every game. Nothing gets a crowd going, a bench going, and most importantly a player going like taking off full speed, going body to body, and putting his you-know-what in an opponent’s face. If you’re not too familiar with the term “getting postered”, ask Shawn Bradley to describe it to you. I’m almost positive that’s what his role was throughout his stint in the NBA. Or ask guys like Stromile SwiftJames White, or Gerald Green…who only got to the NBA because of their high flying ability. But, before you escape to YouTube, allow me to present the list:

The Kobe Bryant Mini-Fro Days....

10. Kobe Bryant
I know, I know. He’s getting older now, and does a lot less high flying than he did during his mini-fro days, but he is still one of the more explosive and acrobatic players in the league. Don’t think so? Dare you to tell him otherwise.

9. Derrick Rose
Talk about a FREAK athlete. Rose is one of the most, if not the most explosive two-foot jumpers in the NBA. He might not belong in the top 10 based on his quantity of posters, but certainly for his quality and capability. Goran, what were you thinking?

One of the best dunks in All-Star Weekend's history

8. Andre Iguodala
Following in the footsteps of former Wildcat high-flyer Richard Jefferson, “Iggy” comes in at number 8. With deceptively long arms, incredible athleticism, and an underrated array of dunks (as illustrated in his dunk contest appearances)…Andre had to make the list.

7. Russell Westbrook
This guy might be my favorite one on the list. He became known for his ability as a youngster at UCLA, and has continued to humble opponents in the NBA. One of the top five quickest and fastest players in the league, he is beyond dangerous in the open floor.

6. Rudy Gay
Now the ranking becomes a little bit more difficult. It’s hard to put Rudy as low as number 6, but he has about 84 million reasons to make himself feel better. Almost impossible to stop above the rim because of his length, and probably best known for his always fully extended, and picture perfect windmill.

"Mr. Tolliver, will you sign my poster?"

5. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amare is certainly one of the most ferocious and powerful dunkers on the list. He may not always have the most “spectacular” posters, but he seems to have about a million every year. His number of dunks might go down without “Stevie” to thread the needle this year, but he’ll still manage to embarrass a few opponents and their families. Somewhere Anthony Tolliver is tweeting: “SMH”.

4. Dwayne Wade
Alright, now it’s almost impossible. Having to put maybe my favorite player at 4 was not easy, but the top 3 are too good. “DW3” is as relentless as anyone when it comes to taking the ball to the rack, and epitomizes the clique: “attacking the rim with reckless abandon”. Just ask Anderson Varejao.

3. Josh Smith
“J-Smoov” needs no introduction. Only fitting that he would play for the Hawks. Probably the only guy capable of filling out all Top 10 plays on SportsCenter in one night. He’ll pin you at one end and then catch a lob on the other. Always fun to watch.

2. Dwight Howard
Superman comes in at number 2 strictly because it happens so often. Had the list been called Most Likely To Dunk on You…Dwight would probably be number 1. Not only one of the most incredible athletes currently in the NBA, but of all time.

Back When D-Wade Was "A Witness", No Wonder He Wanted To Unite

1. LeBron James
Are you surprised? Possesses every possible attribute of a good poster-er. Size, speed, strength, quickness, jumping ability. You name it, he’s got it. Well, except for a ring.

Well, that concludes my list. But, before I go, just want to give a shout-out to the All Underrated Poster Squad: Will Bynum, Ronnie Price, Von Wafer, Shannon Brown, Dahntay Jones, Chase Budinger, Rodney Carney, Trevor Ariza.

Follow Zach on Twitter: @love4thegame3


LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 6) Predictions

LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 8:30 ET TNT

Gentry & the Suns are praying for a Game 6 victory

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson said it best, “One good shot, leads to another.” After disaster struck the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night, the Suns are down but far from out. Trailing three games to two, the Suns are back at home facing win or go home circumstance. If the Suns they earn a trip back to Los Angeles, if the Lakers win, they’ll be headed to their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance.

There’s no question the Suns are fully capable of not only winning tonight’s game but having a chance to win a decisive Game 7 battle inside the Staples Center, they know that. For Steve Nash and Grant Hill this very well could be their last chance to have a really good shot at making it to the NBA Finals. After all, they’re only two big wins away from doing so.

Heading into Game 6, there are no surprises, both the Suns and the Lakers know what to expect from one another and understand what they’ll need to do to come out on top. So my one and only key to a Game 6 victory for both teams is: Execution.

Whichever team can best executive for the entire 48 minutes wins Game 6. In Game 5, the Suns feel just short of a victory after failing to execute on defensive as Jason Richardson allowed Ron Artest to cross his face and failed to box him out. The Suns along with Jason Richardson learned this valuable lesson, and expect them to bounce back in Game 6.

45+ Points= Lakers win, anything less, expect a loss

Only way I see the Lakers winning Game 6, is if Kobe Bryant goes off on a rampage, meaning 45+ points. As much as I love watching Kobe distribute early on into games, he must find his rhythm early. Gone need to be the games of getting teammates involved early as Kobe may only have 6-8 points after one quarter of play, the Black Mamba needs to fire up early. If he can put the Suns on the heels to start the game, the Suns along with their home crowd will be desperately concerned as the game nears its final minutes.

For the Suns, execution starts and ends with Steve Nash. He was brilliant in Game 5 and with him so close to a chance at the NBA Finals, expect nothing less than another great game today. But Nash must, must, must, score more points than he tallies assists. While that may seem very odd, the Suns need Nash to score the basketball just as much as they need him spoon feeding his teammates.

Behind Nash and another home court “coming out party” for the Suns bench, expect the Suns to come up big with a win in Game 6.

Suns- 121 Lakers- 117 OT

Hopefully Gentry can keep the puking to a minimum tonight

He missed once, don’t allow Kobe Bryant the opportunity to try again tonight!

5/25/10 LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 4) Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 9 ET TNT

Can the Suns get it done in Game 4, behind the "hard-nosed" leader Steve Nash?

Like I said in my Game 4 predictions, I think the Suns are in a very similar position to what the Milwaukee Bucks were in against the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1. Outsized and down 0-2 heading home the Bucks took care of business back in Milwaukee. After winning Game 3 on Sunday night the Suns have the opportunity to do the same tonight, tying up the series as it heads back to the City of Angels.

Can it happen? Of course…Do I think it will happen? Absolutely not….Here’s why:

Amare Stoudemire: I hate to break it to ya Suns fans, but that was the last 40+ point performance Stoudemire will ever have in a Suns uniform. It’s a sad reality and I truly do feel bad trying to frame his impressive Game 3 performance as a bad thing. But there’s no way the Lakers allow that to happen once again tonight.

Grant Hill: Go ahead, make the argument that although Amare might not go off for 40 points again and that Grant Hill will make up for some of that loss in scoring. My response to that would be there’s no way in hell Robin Lopez drops 20 points in Game 4. But regarding Lopez, he’ll have another solid night out on the floor, I’ll go with a near double-double type performance of 12 points to go along with 9 rebounds.

Odom must help lead the charge into Game 4

Lamar Odom: Early foul trouble for Lamar Odom really limited the Lakers chances in Game 3, especially when considering Andrew Bynum only played 7 minutes. Odom will bounce back from his very vague 10 point, 6 rebound performance tonight in Game 4. Outside of Kobe Bryant singe handedly taking over the ball game, Odom holds the keys to big Lakers victory.

But There’s Hope for Phoenix!

Suns Bench: If the Suns were to have lost this game, their bench production would’ve been torn apart by the media and deservingly so. It was terrible in Game 3 combing for a mere 15 points and 11 rebounds on 3 of 21 shooting. Yikes! When a bench performs that bad as a bench as a whole, there’s no way to go but up!

3-Point Shooting: The Suns only went connected on 5 of their 20 three point field goal attempts in Game 3. That as we all know is very unlike the Suns and you can fully expect to see the team shoot a higher three point shooting percentage in Game 4.

Planet Orange: The Suns are at home, so that in itself is very important. Behind their home crowd, the Suns must get off to a hot start, keep the energy level at the max. Kobe Bryant began feeling it early in Game 3 and was the key to containing the energy level in Game 3. It seems as though every time finish made a strong push for momentum, Kobe Bryant responded with a tough shot of his own or found an open teammate for a wide-open shot attempt.

When the final buzzer sounds, I’m taking the Lakers over the Suns which will allow the Lakers to wrap up the series in Los Angeles in Game 5.

Lakers- 116 Suns- 112

Things Could Potentially Heat Up Again in Game 4

5/23/10 LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 3) Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 8:30 ET TNT

It's now or never for the Phoenix Suns

Whenever a series is 2-0, the series all of a sudden become a five game series, not a seven game series. But with just one win, that all can suddenly put the Suns back into a seven game series mode. My outlook on Game 3 is one that should look very promising in the eyes of Suns fans, but I warn you to read with caution. Some fans may disagree with this comparison.

The Suns-Lakers series reminds me a lot of the Bucks-Hawks series in Round 1. In Game 1, both the Suns and the Bucks got blown out on the road and the series looked like the Hawks/Lakers were going to have an easy task moving forward. In Game 2, both the Suns and the Bucks lost again, but had their opportunities to take the lead down the stretch and had much improved overall play. So both road teams down 0-2 to the series back to their respected homes for Games 3 and 4. The majority of NBA analysts envisioned the Bucks winning one home game, much like some of the analysts are predicting now for this Suns-Lakers series.

Going in Game 3 in Phoenix I see the Suns doing exactly what the Bucks did on their home court and here’s why. The Lakers have been able to get exceptional offensive contributions from the likes of Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Ron Artest, and I’ll  even (maybe unfairly) throw Lamar Odom in there. With the Lakers on the road inside the U.S. Airways Center, I just don’t see each of these four being able to contribute as much as they have thus far into the series. Being at home is one thing, but on the road the situation and task at hand is completely different.

The Suns can't allow the "Bynumite" to explode

Look for Phil Jackson to use Andrew Bynum more effectively in Game 3, allowing Bynum to slow down the Lakers offense. Against the Suns, it’s okay to play a little up-tempo style when you’re at home but once you enter Planet Orange in Phoenix your best bet is to slow down the tempo and control Phoenix’s opportunities to push the ball. This may not be the same D’Antoni fastbreak team, but those run and gun possessions really fuel the Suns momentum at home behind their fans.

For the Suns, it’s up to both Jason Richardson and Amare Stoudemire to deliver. Amare’s taken much criticism for his performances so far, so I’d expect him to come out aggressive from jump. So aggressive that if he can avoid foul trouble early on, I wouldn’t rule him out for dropping 17+ first half points. Off the bench, the Suns can’t expect Jared Dudley to have another nearly perfect shooting performance and everyone will surely be watching the play of Channing Frye. After a pep talk from his wife on the way home from L.A. and all the publicity Frye’s been receiving on his current slump, tonight he must step up to the challenge. This is the toughest adversity he’s faced since being a top rookie with the New York Knicks. And after declining his upcoming player option, it’s about time he starts proving  exactly why he deserves more money than what the player option  had him receiving salary-wise. Same type deal relates to the Amare Stoudemire. It’s not even about whether Amare wants to remain a Phoenix Sun, it’s about showing the rest of the league’s general managers that you cannot only help their team get to the playoffs but can excel in big time games. For the Phoenix Suns, it’s their time in shine in the Valley of the Sun. It’s a now or never Game 3 at home tonight. Suns come through in big victory, restore Suns fans hope.

Suns- 121 Lakers- 112

Planet Orange Should Be Rocking Inside U.S. Airways Tonight

5/17/10 Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers (Game 1)

Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers- 9 ET TNT

Why can't the Suns get any love?

On top of all the “you’re wrong” comments sent my way via Suns fans, I’ve recently been hit with a surge of Suns fans wondering why I and the majority of the sports media world don’t give the Suns any love. While I can stand here and think of a variety of different why that is, I think it’s much more significant to inform all Suns fans not to worry: Embrace it! The Phoenix Suns are at their best when there’s no expectations! The moment they’re expected to do something is when they fail….

Past Examples:

2004-2005 Suns Starters: Nash/Johnson/Richardson/Marion/Stoudemire= best Suns team since the 2000's

When were expected to dominate the NBA Playoffs as they did the 2004-2005 regular season= fail

When Shawn Marion is expected to be happy and remain a Suns player for his entire career= fail

When Shaquille O’Neal was expected to be the missing link to a championship caliber team= fail

Present Examples:

When Steve Nash is expected to play a little defense= fail

When Jared Dudley and the Suns bench are expected to provide a huge boost= fail

When the Suns have a early 15 to 20 point lead and expect to maintain it= fail

Suns may still regret not doing this

Future Examples in Question:

When Jared Dudley & Grant Hill are expected to slow down Kobe: _______ ?

When Amare Stoudemire is expected to resign in Phoenix this offseason: _______?

When Goran Dragic is expected to be the Suns everyday starting point guard: _______?

Goran Dragic might possibly be the best example that comes to mind when talking about the Suns and expectations. While there’s no doubt that Goran Dragic’s Game 3 performance in San Antonio was outstanding to say the very least, it was THAT outstanding because you didn’t expect it. The moment Suns fans come to expect Goran Dragic to do something (like me) you’ll find yourselves disappointed in the final product. Same applies to the Suns organization. Don’t have any expectations heading into the Western Conference Finals Suns fans, I’m looking out in the best interest of you all. Continue to enjoy the ride without worrying about what Bill Plaschke, Phil Jackson, and hell even what Ross Geiger says. The moment the sports world outside of Phoenix begins to believe in this Suns team is when it collapses.

The Lakers' Big Three

Now with all that being said, I got good news for the Phoenix Suns, I like the majority of the sports world have the Lakers in Game 1. It’s going to be interesting to watch the Suns try to stop the Lakers strong inside presence of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The most important key of all is not allowing Amare Stoudemire to fall into early foul trouble. If at any point in this series, Amare sees foul trouble early into ball games, the Suns stand no chance unless they’re just hitting everything from the perimeter. Balanced scoring: inside and out, is something both teams need to solidify their success. The Suns must not count heavily on knocking down the perimeter threes against the Lakers, rather must attack the basket and try to draw some fouls down low on Bynum. If the Suns can get Bynum into some foul trouble, the game is pretty much an even battle.

How the Lakers decide upon approaching who defends Steve Nash is also something to watch for. We all know Derek Fisher will clearly start from tipoff, but I see Phil Jackson calling upon Shannon Brown to play that Jerryd Bayless/George Hill-type role against Nash. Jordan Farmar is another guy to watch out for. Any matchup that puts Steve Nash on his heels on defense is something I see Phil Jackson trying his best to exploit. Especially now after Steve Nash retaliated back by saying that Gregg Popovich is the best head coach in the NBA, I see Coach Jackson taking to Nash every and often.

A Lakers win will result in keeping Bynum out of foul trouble, solid play from Gasol at least matches the stat line of Stoudemire, and the no show productivity from the Phoenix Suns bench. Lakers take Game 1 at home.

Lakers- 107 Suns- 99

I Don’t See Channing Frye or Jared Dudley Being Able to Deliver Clutch Knockdowns Like This One, That Goes Down in My Book as the My Favorite Suns Shot of All-Time over Rex Chapman’s Prayer:

4/27/10 NBA Playoffs Predictions

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics- 7 ET- NBATV

Expect a big night from "The Truth"

The question isn’t whether or not the Boston Celtics are going to take the series, the real question is whether Dwyane Wade allows the Celtics to take the series in Game 5. Wade single handedly defeated the Celtics in Game 4, avoiding the Celtics sweep. He shot 16-24 from the field, including 5-7 from downtown, which for D-Wade is a very rare occurrence, going off for 46 points in total. If the Celtics get a strong performance out of Paul Pierce inside the TD Garden, Boston will be in great shape.

Quite frankly, this is a must win game from the Celtics if they hope to stand any chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 2. The Celtics need as much rest as possible heading into the Quicken Loans Arena from Game 1 of Round 2. The Cavaliers should cap off their series tonight with a win over the Bulls at home, so the Celtics must do the same. It would kill their chances against Cleveland if it just so happens that the Heat upset them with a win tonight forcing the Celtics to travel back down to Miami for Game 6. It would create all that much more trouble and would also give the Cavaliers some time to tune in to watch their second round opponent. Celtics realize this and the importance of finishing up their first round matchup against the Heat tonight at home. As long as the Celtics limit Dwyane Wade to 35 points or less, they’ll win tonight.

Celtics- 97 Heat- 88

Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers- 8 ET- TNT

The final chalk toss of the first round will take place tonight inside the Q

This game is a wrap even before both teams show up to suit up tonight. With Rose battling an injury and LeBron continuing to be LeBron, it’s a no brainer that the Bulls are cooked. But before this series becomes history, the Bulls should be given a lot of praise. Not expected to beat out Toronto for the last and final playoff spot, the Bulls got the job done, clinching the spot behind Derrick Rose’s promise of a playoff berth. After critics (like me) doubted they’d even make the playoffs, the proved critics (like me) wrong again by making Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland competitive enough to watch.

A lot of changes are on the horizon in the Windy City

The Bulls’ charge was led by Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, both of whom really earned some respect in my book for their on court play and leadership. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires this summer within the Bulls organization. From the progress of their core group of guys in Rose, Noah, Deng, and even rookie James Johnson, to dangling Kirk Hinrich yet again as trade bait, then of course comes the firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro and the search for his replacement (Lawrence Frank?) and last but certainly not least which superstar or star(s) decide to sign with Chicago during the most talented free agent class in NBA history. There’s a lot of changes in store for the Chicago Bulls, tonight begins one of them: the offseason.

Cavaliers- 112 Bulls -98

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks- 9:30 ET- NBATV

Think he'll be nervous tonight?

It’s a shame this game isn’t being broadcasted on one of the major networks. Tuning into a Mavericks win or go home game taking place in Dallas is all I need to know to be encouraged to watch it. The reason for that is to obviously get glimpses of the Mavericks’s biggest fan, owner Mark Cuban. Both Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson have poured their heart and soul into building this team into one that was expected to be champion contending team. Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Mavericks are already on the ropes in Round 1 against their arch-rivals.

Will the fat lady sing Shawn?

Out of all the 3-1 matchups taking place tonight, this by far (yes, I said by far) is the best one. After a very disappointing Game 4 loss, Shawn Marion said the series isn’t over until the fat lady sings. While I believe the Mavericks will pull out a big win tonight at home, we’ll really see if that fat lady is just waiting to be heard in San Antonio for Game 6. But tonight, I see the Mavericks stepping their game up and getting the job done. Having picked the Mavericks to go to the NBA Finals this season, it’s very interesting to watch them get tested so early against a very challenging San Antonio team. If the Mavericks prove they can dig themselves out of a trench like this, I see no stopping them. Tonight they’ll live another day and stay safe from a first round exit.

Mavericks- 96 Spurs- 91

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers- 10:30 ET TNT

The Hollywood Stars will be in attendance as always!

With the recent noise the Thunder have been making with their stellar performances in Game 3 and 4 at home, I been receiving a lot of questions regarding whether or not they can take this series. I apologize if I come off sounding like a Thunder hater (if one does exist), but I don’t see the Thunder earning a victory in Los Angeles. Obviously, the most impressive trademark of this Thunder team’s success against the Lakers so far in the series is how young the team is. For many of the same reasons the Thunder and NBA Coach of the Year Scott Brooks deserve kudos for their accomplishments, I also feel are the main reasons they’ll fall short when facing the Lakers in the City of Angels.

credit where it's due

From the Staples Center’s celebrity sightings to Kobe’s confortability and nearly effortless success at home, home court advantage will be the biggest factor in why the Lakers will win the series. But hey, it’s crazy even just thinking about the Lakers possibly losing this series as the #1 seed in the Western Conference, the defending champs, and on top of all of that the Thunder’s unity throughout the entire series. As Kevin Durant continues to receive much of that credit, I once again will be sort of an outkast and come out and say Kevin Durant isn’t the difference maker in the team’s success in the series. Instead I’d argue that it’s been the play and leadership of Russell Westbrook, the team’s floor general. Westbrook currently has dished out a total of 21 assists (5.25 apg) and while that may be well below his season average of 8 apg, so far this series he’s only committed a combined total of 6 turnovers! Westbrook had 11 games this season where he committed at least 6 turnovers alone. Up to this point in his young NBA career, Westbrook has been widely regarded as a point guard thats turnover prone. Since the playoffs, Westbrook has taken much better care of the ball, which clearly leads to more possessions and gives your team a better opportunity to win ball games. Head Coach Phil Jackson must switch up his defense assignments on Westbrook, testing the young guard to make in game adjustments. Personally, I like the idea of assigning Shannon Brown to Russell Westbrook, very similar physique and athletic ability, I think Brown could cause some havoc on defense. But tonight just like Game 1 and Game 2, the Lakers will do a better job executing down the stretch on their home floor. Lakers take Game 5 and prepare for another tough battle back in Oklahoma City.

Lakers- 93 Thunder- 87