Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook want Scott Brooks to keep quiet about turnovers

To this point in the 2011-2012 NBA playoffs, the Thunder have done little wrong. It took them only nine games to reach the Western Conference finals, so Oklahoma City is likely feeling well-rested as they prepare to take on the Spurs. You don’t have that type of success without protecting the basketball, which is exactly what the Thunder have done. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook believe that is due in part to the fact that Thunder coach Scott Brooks has stopped talking about turnovers.

“One thing Scotty needs to do is just shut up,” Durant said jokingly according to The Oklahoman. “We’ll probably be a better team.”

Westbrook agreed that the Thunder were awful at taking care of the ball during the regular season when Brooks harped on it, but now it becomes a chicken vs. egg argument. Has Brooks quieted down about turnovers because his team has cut down on turning it over, or have the Thunder stopped turning it over as much because their coach quit talking about it?

“Usually, I don’t agree with either of those guys much, but they’re telling the truth,” Brooks said. “I haven’t mentioned the turnovers at all. But I haven’t mentioned it because we haven’t turned it over. Trust me, if we’re turning it over 25 times I’m on ‘em and showing every clip and why we’re turning it over because of bad spacing and so forth.”

Oklahoma city is averaging only 10.7 turnovers per game in the playoffs, which is the lowest total of any team. They had the most in the Western Conference with 16.3 during the regular season. Whether they finally got Brooks’ message, or the coach has simply relaxed and let them do their thing, something is working. If they play the way they did through the first two rounds, Oklahoma City has a shot at stopping the smoking hot Spurs.

Photo credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant is tired of finishing second in everything

Kevin Durant finished second in MVP voting for the second time in three seasons, but he’s not satisfied with being strongly considered for the award. While he’s happy friend LeBron James won the award, Durant expressed dissatisfaction with being a runner-up once again.

“I’ve been second since high school,” Durant said Saturday, according to The Oklahoman. “Second draft pick. Second best player (in the country) in high school. Second in MVP voting twice. So I’m over that being second stuff.”

It’s safe to say Durant has his eye on a prize bigger than the MVP award, as does James (and Nike). Durant will probably get an MVP award at some point in his career — probably sooner rather than later — but he knows it’s the championships that matter the most. As long as he comes in first in the NBA at the end of the season, his legacy will be set.

Kevin Durant calls out Skip Bayless: ‘That guy doesn’t know a thing about basketball’

Kevin Durant called out resident ESPN antagonist Skip Bayless for his lack of basketball knowledge Monday. Responding to the clown’s apparent comments that Russell Westbrook shoots too much for the Thunder (don’t ask me, I don’t pay any attention to anything he says), Durant said “That guy doesn’t know a thing about basketball.”

The criticism of Russell Westbrook has been persistent since the playoffs last year when many media members/wanna-be critics watched the Thunder play for the first time. They were horrified by what they saw — that Westbrook is a playmaking point guard who tries to score rather than distribute — and began hammering him mercilessly. Apparently the complaints have continued for brainless Bayless, who gets paid big money to play the role of the outrageous antagonist for ESPN, even though the Thunder have the best record in the conference and second-best record in the league.

Oklahoma City is 20-4 when Westbrook takes more shots than Durant and they’ve won those games by 12.4 points on average.

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Kevin Durant does not know why people view LeBron James as the bad guy

Over the past few days, LeBron James has ripped off a streak of positive headlines in the media. Typically he is everyone’s favorite villain, but between showing his support for Trayvon Martin and defying Heat security so some military personnel could take pictures with the team, King James has come across as a pretty standup guy as of late. One player who probably isn’t surprised by it is Kevin Durant, as Durant made it clear over the weekend that he doesn’t understand why LeBron is the “bad guy” in everybody’s eyes.

“Sometimes I don’t see why,” Durant said according to Royce Young when asked if he is the good guy to LeBron’s bad guy. “The man made a decision he wanted to make. He’s playing basketball and playing well. Sometimes I don’t see why people don’t like him too much. But as far as me and him being compared, I don’t know why either. I’m just being myself. Coming out and trying and be the best player I can be every time I step on the floor.”

The comparisons between Durant and LeBron are natural. For starters, both are superstars. However, Durant prefers to remain quiet most of the time and keep a low profile, whereas LeBron lives more of a rock-star lifestyle and seems to always find himself saying the wrong things. LeBron made a public spectacle out of choosing the Heat, while Durant hammered out an extension to remain with the Thunder in the privacy of his own home.

This isn’t the first time Durant has defended LeBron, and the fact that he has done so before further solidifies why K.D. is one of the more likeable players in the league. With LeBron, we often get the impression that being a celebrity is just as important as winning a championship. With Durant, it always seems like it’s about basketball.

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant defends LeBron James for passing up final shot against Jazz

Believe it or not, the latest criticism of LeBron James has centered around his unselfishness. With the ball in his hands and the Eastern Conference trailing by a basket during the final seconds of the All-Star game, LeBron chose to pass to teammate Dwyane Wade rather than take the last shot with Kobe Bryant defending him. Against the Jazz last weekend in the same situation, he again opted to pass it to an open Udonis Haslem instead of trying to hit the game-winner.

James was well-covered on the play, but he was on fire and had scored 17 points in the fourth quarter alone. Kobe would have taken the shot with three defenders on him, and some will argue that it’s that winner’s mentality that separates him from LeBron. Kevin Durant would disagree.

“I saw that play,” Durant told NBA.com when asked about the play against the Jazz. “Udonis Haslem was wide open for a jumper that he usually makes. You know what? I’d make the same play. It was the right play. I’d have done the same thing. I can’t believe it was even an issue.”

In the All-Star Game, LeBron should have taken the shot. It’s an exhibition game and any time you have the two best players in the game going against each other you capitalize on the opportunity to create a memorable moment. Against the Jazz, I think LeBron made the right choice. Red hot or ice cold, he did not have a good look at the basket. As Durant said, Haslem was wide open. There are plenty of things to criticize James for. Passing the ball to a wide open teammate shouldn’t be one of them.

H/T Black Sports Online

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook reportedly building strong relationship

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing tremendously this season, and it’s a big reason why the Thunder sit atop the league’s standings

And yet, trouble in paradise between the Thunder’s two all-stars has always been suspected, especially after their little on-court tiff earlier this season. But a report Monday by The Oklahoman dispelled those rumors and said the relationship between Westbrook and Durant is flourishing.

The chemistry and camaraderie between Westbrook and Durant throughout All-Star Weekend was unmistakable, whether on the court or off it. It seems it will only improve at this point and help propel the Thunder in the second half of the season.

Then again, things never have been toxic between the two, as some national pundits have portrayed their relationship. Still, that negativity no doubt has built a stronger bond.

With reporters asking about their relationship at every stop early this season, Westbrook and Durant grew closer in the face of shared adversity. Now, they’re supporting each other more frequently in palpable ways.

After all the times Westbrook in the playoffs last season played like he thought he was the team’s No. 1 option, it was easy for people to suspect he and Durant were headed for another Stephon Marbury-Kevin Garnett situation. So assuming Westbrook and Durant have beef isn’t a far-fetched notion. Even Durant has said he’s butted heads with Westbrook in the past. It also got to the point where some thought trading Westbrook might be better long-term for the team.

But now, let it be known: the two have a genuine camaraderie. And after OKC threw close to $80 million at Westbrook in January, they better.

Photo credit: Howard Smith, US Presswire

Kevin Durant wants LeBron James, other stars in the Dunk Contest

The Slam Dunk Contest won by Jazz forward Jeremy Evans Saturday lacked any buzz. No disrespect to participants Chase Budinger, Paul George, and Derrick Williams, but they don’t get people excited about the competition. Fans, execs, and even the players recognize that — just look at what Kevin Durant tweeted Saturday night.

“It’s time for @KingJames, Mr Westbrook, Mr.Rose, and @DwyaneWade to get in the dunk contest.”

Wade, who is now 30 and in his 9th season, replied “Not me but I agree w the others.”

LeBron James has flirted with entering the competition but he never participated. While having Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook involved would be awesome, it’s LeBron who we want. He’s had some of the sickest dunks in the NBA. He’s one of the league’s biggest stars and one of the best dunkers. We want to finally see him put on a show.

Participating in the contest allows a player the chance to enhance his profile and create memories. Why do you think people still talk about Vince Carter, Nate Robinson, and Jason Richardson? Part of their legacies are their spectacular dunks from the contest.

Michael Jordan participated as did Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. There’s no reason these guys shouldn’t participate. Come on fellas, give the fans a show.

H/T Eye on Basketball