Game 4 of the NBA Finals had quite a number of memorable moments, from Russell Westbrook’s incredible scoring outburst (overshadowed by late blunder) to LeBron James’ “Wills Reed” moment (kind of). Our Moke Hamilton explains why the duel was so great but the ending wasn’t. Find all the coverage below, plus updated news about the Magic, Wizards and Hornets.
- Berry Tramel explains why the officiating of Game 4 wasn’t as bad as people claim: “Game 4: Really good. Scott Foster, Mike Callahan and Bill Kennedy. What did anyone want? If you throw out the last two intentional fouls, the count was 18-18. The foul shots, minus those four, were 21 Heat, 16 Thunder. Doesn’t that sound about right? Guarding LeBron James, so big and so fast, is going to lead to some fouls. LeBron had eight foul shots in Game 4. Kevin Durant, who went to the basket far fewer times than did LeBron, had nine.”
- James Harden’s shooting struggles continued in Game 4. He spoke on the matter, from John Rohde: ”Of course, any basketball player would be frustrated if his shot’s not falling, but you’ve got to stick with it,” Harden said. “It’s basketball. You don’t make (all your) shots every single day, every single game. I’ve got to go back tomorrow in practice, work on my mechanics and be ready for Thursday.”
- Harden suffered a minor injury and will not miss time: “James Harden has a left hand bruise, an injury that occurred in last night’s Game 4. He will be available for Game 5.”
- Russell Westbrook had plenty of critics apologize to him publicly after his overall epic performance. It started, again, with Magic Johnson, written by Mel Bracht: “Russell Westbrook was amazing,” Johnson said. “Maybe I got to apologize to him. He has to play this way to give them a chance to win. Maybe it was my fault judging him as a point guard because he’s a scoring point guard. He played a fabulous game. The problem is James Harden has not produced in this series.”
- Gregg Doyel’s apologetic tone for his criticism of Westbrook after Game 2: “Get this straight,” Russell Westbrook sneered at me, and already I liked where he was going. Whatever came out of his mouth next, I was going to deserve it. You were going to deserve it. Most of us were going to deserve it, because most of us have been critical of Westbrook even as he has played more than 40 minutes a game at point guard on a team that has reached the NBA Finals and even briefly led the series after one game.”
- If you were impressed with Russell Westbrook’s fourth quarter performance in Game 4, relive it here.
- Kendrick Perkins expressed his displeasure of Scott Brooks‘ change of rotation in a conversation with Darnell Mayberry: “I just don’t understand why we start out the first quarter the way we did, with the lineup that we had, and all of a sudden we change and adjust to what they had going on. So they won the last three quarters, and that’s what happened.”
- LeBron James appeared to be done after suffering cramps late in the fourth quarter, but somehow managed to play through another few minutes and hit a huge 3-point shot. He’s already feeling much better though, reports Daniel Chang: “I feel a lot better than I did last night. That’s clear,’’ James said at an NBA Finals news conference in AmericanAirlines Arena. “I’m still a little sore because of the muscles just kind of being at an intense level, very tight. I’m still sore. I was able to get some treatment [Tuesday] night. I was able to get some treatment this morning.’’
- Hakeem Olajuwon may be a big reason for the improved play of James in the post, and the two have kept in touch in the postseason.
- In the backstage after the victory, LeBron James expressed his amusement of Dwyane Wade’s glasses, from SLAM Online. Wade, by the way, should be more careful of what he says in front of the cameras.
- Mario Chalmers played a huge role in Game 4 and had this to say about himself: “I’ve always been a person to step up in big moments.”
- Some supposed Thunder fans burned Kevin Durant’s jersey, took a picture of it and posted it online.
- The Orlando Magic may soon acquire a new general manager, according to Wojnarowski: “The Orlando Magic are in advanced talks with Oklahoma City assistant GM Rob Hennigan to make him franchise’s new GM, league sources tell Y!” *Update: Magic and Hennigan have agreed to contract terms, according to Ken Berger.
- As first reported by Jonathan Givony, the Wizards have traded Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick to the Hornets for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Our Chris Bernucca has more: “Trades usually aren’t made during the playoffs as teams are inclined to wait until the draft and free agency to start making moves in advance of next season. As far as postseason trades go, this is a pretty big one, rivaling the Chris Webber deal in May 1998.”
- Steve Nash is interested in joining the New York Knicks, but a deal is unlikely, according to Jared Zwerling: “The Knicks, however, will be hampered in free agency. Because they likely will lose out in early-bird rights arbitration, which hasn’t been decided yet, they’ll only have veterans’ minimum contracts to offer free agents. And that’s if Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak don’t re-sign, which is highly doubtful.”
- The Charlotte Bobcats will have a bit of a new look for next season. Rick Bonnell has the story: “They’re switching to a darker navy blue, adding Carolina blue as an accent, and further de-emphasizing the orange color that dominated their uniforms their first two seasons. They’re also shortening their nickname on the white home jerseys from “Bobcats” to “Cats.” The blue road jerseys will continue to say, “Charlotte.”
- David Stern has been pushing to enter an under-23 team for future Olympic, and the reason may be all about money: “For the use of its most marketable players, the league office and many NBA owners are determined to create a financial partnership with FIBA for a World Cup that would allow the NBA to significantly share in the windfall of revenues. ”The owners would be a lot more comfortable letting star players play internationally if they’re sharing in the revenue,” one league source told Yahoo! Sports.”
- Jim Buss is not planning to make a lot of changes for the Lakers, according to T.J. Simers: “What are the chances of the Lakers starting the season with Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol all in Lakers uniforms? ”Very good,” says Buss. So you don’t agree with those who say the Lakers must turn Gasol into two or three players via a trade? ”No,” he says. “I think changes are going to be made moving Pau lower to the basket. We can improve that way with a change in coaching strategy rather than a change in personnel.”
For Kevin Love on Jimmy Kimmel, click here.
For Serge Ibaka’s call-out of LeBron James’ defense, click here.