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Kevin Durant Defends Russell Westbrook’s Shot Selection After Game 4

The Oklahoma City Thunder missed an opportunity to sweep the Denver Nuggets when they lost Monday evening in Game 4 104-101. OKC was actually down by 10 with under three minutes to play yet they were able to make it a one-possession game in the final minute. Unfortunately they were unable to tie the game or take the lead because Russell Westbrook missed three three pointers (including a buzzer-beating heave at the end of the game).

Not only did Westbrook’s shot selection appear questionable because of his poor results, but also because he didn’t defer to the team’s perceived leader and franchise player, Kevin Durant. Durant happened to be nearly flawless from three-point range in the game, going 5-for-6.

Folks on twitter were killing Westbrook for not deferring to Durant while the TNT analysts called him out for trying to be the hero. After the game though, Durant had Westbrook’s back.

“We got some good looks, Russell got some good looks … he shot the three it rimmed out,” Durant said about the game’s ending.

He was then asked some tough questions by the media where he could have called out his teammate, but he refused to take the bait.

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Hedo Turkoglu’s Decline has Hurt Magic

It was only two years ago when the Orlando Magic had reached the NBA Finals before deciding they had done enough for the season and laid down at the hands of the Lakers. That team had a lethal combination of the most dominant big man in the game, and a slew of shooters knocking down threes from the outside. Though the three-point shooting style of the Magic made them a frustrating team from game-to-game because their performance fluctuated, they were a talented bunch who went far in the postseason. The team’s run to the Finals seemed to signify they were bound to be a consistent force in the Eastern Conference for the next several years, but that all ended quickly.

Hedo Turkoglu, who fit in perfectly with their offense as a 6’10″ forward who could run the point and shoot threes, decided to leave in free agency. The Magic made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without him last season, but they were outclassed by the Celtics falling behind 3-0 before losing in six. Turkoglu meanwhile flopped harder than a Duke player in March during his only season in Toronto, forced a trade to Phoenix, and then he was dealt to Orlando in a blockbuster deal that also involved Jason Richardson.

What we’ve come to learn is that teams that need to overhaul their roster midseason are already in poor shape so making huge trades likely won’t be enough. What we’ve also learned is that the Magic fell behind the Bulls and Heat who both improved drastically over the offseason. Most importantly, we’ve learned that Hedo Turkoglu isn’t half as effective as he was two seasons ago, and the Magic are paying the price.

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Mark Cuban Left Rose Garden Early During Portland’s Comeback

There are few owners in sports who love their team more than Mark Cuban, so it’s safe to say losses by the Dallas Mavericks sting him more than the average fan. Apparently Saturday’s Game 4 loss in which the Mavericks blew a 23-point lead and lost to Brandon Roy and the Blazers became unwatchable for Cubes.

The Dallas Morning News reports Cuban left his bench-area seat in the final minute of Game 4 in Portland and went to the Mavericks’ locker room. Brandon Roy had just hit the go-ahead shot to make it 84-82, completing Portland’s comeback. Cuban apparently watched Jason Kidd and Jason Terry missed three pointers from the locker room.

To many people Cuban comes across as a spoiled rich kid who likes to pick fights with rival players and owners. With the amount of passion he has, I’m not surprised he had to essentially “turn the TV off” during the comeback. Like so many other Mavericks fans have said, they’ve seen this movie far too many times in the past. Or maybe Cuban just wanted to avoid being pelted by flying objects.

Brandon Roy Puts on a Show in Portland’s Comeback Win Over Dallas

Just when we thought Brandon Roy’s playing ability was disintegrating because of multiple knee injuries, he goes out on puts on one of the best comebacks we’ve seen. The Portland Trail Blazers were down by 23 in the third quarter, 18 to start the fourth, yet they outscored the Dallas Mavericks 35-15 to win Game 4 at the Rose Garden 84-82. Roy, who complained about his role following Game 2 in Dallas, was the biggest reason why they charged back for the win.

In the final six minutes of the game, Brandon Roy went 6-for-6 from the field and made a free throw on a four-point play. He had 18 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter while handing out four of his five assists in the final period. In all, Roy went 9-for-12 from the field and 4-for-5 at the line.

After the game, coach Nate McMillan said “Brandon doesn’t talk much but you could see it in his eyes. He was going to control this game.”

Portland GM Rich Cho told Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge “”That’s the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.” And Roy even admitted “It still just doesn’t feel real yet.”

The series may only be tied 2-2 and Dallas still could win it, but the magical experience of watching the show Brandon Roy put on will never go away. He is not the same player he once was, but at least for a quarter he showed us he’s still the franchise player for the Blazers.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Jason Richardson and Zaza Pachulia Fight (Video)

Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia and Magic guard Jason Richardon were ejected in Game 3 Friday night for engaging in a mini-fight. Dwight Howard and Zaza had been mixing it up all game and Dwight started things by flailing a hand at Zaza. Pachulia got in J-Rich’s face with a headbutt so Richardson responded with a slap. Both players were ejected for the remaining 2:22 in the game and could face a suspension for Game 4. Here’s a video of the Jason Richardson-Zaza Pachulia fight:

The Hawks ended up winning things and it’s hard to argue the Magic weren’t suffering without J-Rich at the end of the game. Pachulia is a real pest and his annoying play got the best of Orlando which they just can’t let happen.

UPDATE: They’ve both been suspended for Game 4 of the series.

Jared Jeffries Replaces Carmelo Anthony as Public Enemy No. 1 in New York

After the Knicks lost Game 1 of their series to the Celtics, fans were prepared to disown Carmelo Anthony and ship him off to Minnesota. But between the no-call on Melo’s airball to the intentional trip by Kevin Garnett, the fans eased up. What also helped was seeing Melo go for 42 points with 17 rebounds in Game 2 of the series.

Melo stepped up with Amar’e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups both hurt, but this time it was Jared Jeffries who had a final possession blunder. Check out this video of the finish to see where it got away from the Knicks:

Jeffries had the ball taken away from him by Kevin Garnett when he should have gone up strong, just like LBS contributor Arsen noted. The team was only down one at that point and could have gone ahead either with a layup or free throws, yet they blew it. I’m guessing Knicks fans will regret making this video for Jeffries after that performance. They’re down 0-2 in the series but should have plenty of confidence heading home.

Doug Collins Knows Miami Heat Are Superior to 76ers

Don’t accuse Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins of being unrealistic because the man is not stupid. After watching his team get outclassed in Miami Monday evening 94-73 by the Heat, he spoke in a matter-of-fact tone to the media.

“If they’re playing great, they’re a better team. OK? If they’re playing on top of their game, they’re a better team,” Collins stated. “They won 58 we won 41. That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to play, compete and fight. But when they come out and defend they way they did, and Bosh and LeBron play the way they did, and Joel Anthony gives them the lift off the bench defensively that he did, it’s going to be very difficult for us to beat them.”

Just because the Heat were on top of their game Monday doesn’t mean they’re going to win the Finals, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’ve already won this series. Games are completely different at home compared to on the road, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves just because the Heat have played well. But like Collins said, the Heat are simply better when they’re on.

The question is can the Sixers disrupt Miami somewhat when the series goes to Philly for the next two games. I think so, and we’ll likely see close games like Game 1 of the series.

Here’s the video clip of Collins speaking after the loss.