Starting 5: Interesting change of events, and the Clippers remain the Clippers


Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1: Isn’t this an interesting change of events?

A week ago, we were taking ring measurements and starting to figure out where this Spurs team sat in NBA history.  They were on a “1-loss-per-month” stretch, they’d won 20 games in a row, and they just flat out seemed to have too much for the Thunder. 

And then….

The Thunder, after their Game 5 winlast night, have now won 3 straight.  Sometimes going small worked for them… sometimes going big worked for them… and sometimes being young and talented worked for them.  In the fourth quarter last night, it was just a matter of OKC being young, fast, and really, really good.  James Harden’s 3 with :28 left was a terrible shot.  Just awful.  No ball movement, no nothing, great defense by Kawhi Leonard… and splash.  That’s just talent overcoming great defense.

The Spurs were great when Tony Parker was great.  And Tony Parker hasn’t been great over the past three games.  I loved the move to start Manu Ginobilii, but the Spurs aren’t a 6 or 7 person deep team.  They’re a 9 or 10 deep team.  They need 3 or 4 guys to contribute off the bench somehow.  But more than any of that, the Spurs need Tony Parker to be the MVP candidate he has been most of this season.  If he’s not, then the Spurs season will come crashing to an end.

2:  The LA Clippers return to form

Everyone get your Clippers jokes ready.  Because just after word came out that they’d locked up their up-and-coming GM… they lost their up-and-coming GM.  Neil Olshey, the guy who engineered a Clippers resurgence that might still be going if Chauncey Billups hadn’t torn his achilles, is now going to run the Blazers

The Clippers had announced on Friday that the team had reached an agreement in principle to a new agreement with Olshey, who had been working without a contract since October 2011. A media conference call had initially been scheduled for Monday afternoon by the Clippers, but final negotiations stalled as the Trail Blazers stepped in to secure Olshey’s services, according to sources.

Hey, Clippers, no big deal… it’s not like you don’t have big decisions coming up with Blake Griffin (eligible for a contract extensio) and Chris Paul (final year of his contract).  Bringing back Vinny Del Negro, whom Paul had made thinly-veiled barbs about on a number of occasions, and now front-office upheaval are sure ways to make sure your stars want to stick around for the long-haul.


James Harden’s dagger


Durant to Westbrook for the alley oop

Kevin Durant beats the third quarter buzzer

4: Line of the Night:  Manu Ginobili – 34 points (11-21 fg, 5-10 3pt) , 7 assists, 6 rebounds

Ginobili, starting in place of the totally ineffective Danny Green last night, was a gunslinger in the second half, keeping the Spurs alive.  He scored 20 second half points and was personally trying to out-duel the Thunder, who shot 50% on the night.  Ginobili had a chance to tie it up in the closing seconds, but his off-balance 3 fell short. 

5: You can quote me on that

“I believe we can absolutely win on the road”
     –Tim Duncan

“Championship teams win on the road. Oklahoma City just did that.”
     –Gregg Popovich

“We never thought we were supposed to wait our turn.  We always wanted to go and take everything.”
     –Kevin Durant