Scott Brooks/Photo courtesy of NBA.com
Both Clippers coach Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich bemoaned the firing Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks on Wednesday. Brooks led the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012, where they lost to the Miami Heat. He was at the helm for seven years.
OKC just missed making the playoffs this season, but injuries – especially to reigning MVP Kevin Durant – played a role in that.
“I don’t know if saddened is the right word, but he’s a terrific coach, I think we all know that,” Rivers said before his team’s Game 2 of its playoff series against San Antonio. “It’s our business, I guess. I was just surprised. But right when you hear evaluating, from a coaching standpoint you know what that means. It was just too bad. He had a lot of injuries and stuff like that. That’s a tough blow.”
Said Popovich: “It’s sad when a colleague is let go, obviously. We’re all in situations where it’s pretty volatile, ever-changing, that’s for sure. But Scotty Brooks has done a heck of a job. He’s a hard-working, talented coach, good man and he won’t have to wait very long to be a head coach again.”
Chris Paul goes up for two of his 33 points with OKC’s Russell Westbrook guarding him/Photo by Alonzo Adams, Associated Press
– Point guard Chris Paul had a terrific game. He scored 33 points on 11 of 19 shooting – 5 of 8 from 3-point range. He also helped throw a blanket over OKC point guard Russell Westbrook, who has been phenomenal this season – especially of late. Since Feb. 2 he had produced six 40-plus point games and six triple-doubles. He was held to 24 points Wednesday on 5 of 14 shooting. He was just 2 of 8 from the field for seven points and seven of his 10 turnovers while Paul was guarding him. Paul has averaged 22 points and 13.4 assists in the past 14 games, all of which have been missed by Blake Griffin (elbow).
– J.J. Redick also came up with another fine performance. He scored 25 points with five rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Redick has averaged 22.6 points in five games this month while shooting a combined 48.3 percent from the field – 41 percent from beyond the arc.
– What the heck is going on with Spencer Hawes? He scored just four points on 1 of 7 shooting in 31 1/2 minutes of action. The 7-foot-1 big gathered only three rebounds. In his past five games he’s made just 11 of 40 field-goal attempts (27.5 percent) while averaging 5.8 points and just 3.6 rebounds. In one of those games, Monday’s victory over Minnesota, Hawes had one measly rebound in 23 minutes. Though a center by trade, Hawes has been starting at power forward for Griffin.
– Matt Barnes was feeling it in this one. The small forward out of UCLA burned the Thunder for 22 points on 6 of 8 shooting. Barnes made all of his field-goal attempts from 3-point range, going 6 of 7 from beyond the arc. Barnes also was solid on defense as he came through with three steals and two blocks.
– So the Thunder and coach Scott Brooks went to the hack-a-DJ ploy in this one and DeAndre Jordan responded by making 12 of 22 from the free-throw line. That is 54.5 percent. For someone shooting just 41 percent on the season, that is not too shabby. Beginning with 7:50 left in the game, Jordan made seven of his final 10 free-throw attempts. He had 17 points and 18 rebounds.
Blake Griffin is having the best season of his career overall, and that has not gone unnoticed by Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks, who could not say enough about Griffin prior to Wednesday night’s game between the Clippers and Thunder won by the Thunder 107-101.
“Oh, he’s developed every year,” Brooks said. “It’s amazing that he continues to develop at the high level he’s played at the last couple of years. He’s gotten better this year, scoring 24, 25 points a game, and 10 rebounds. His outside shot has improved, his free throws have improved, his playmaking has improved. He’s just a great player, he’s going to go down as one of the best power forwards in the game the way he plays. He plays hard, he gets rebounds, he defends.”
Griffin is averaging a career-high 24.1 points. He’s averaging 9.6 rebounds. His best in that department was 12.1 in his rookie season in 2010-11, but back then DeAndre Jordan was not averaging nearly 14 rebounds like he is now, so he has taken some of those away from Griffin. Griffin is also shooting 71 percent from the free-throw line, a career-best.