Tag:Eric Maynor
Posted on: January 8, 2012 10:37 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 10:40 pm
 

Oklahoma City is getting an early mental test

Posted by Royce Young



OKLAHOMA CITY -- Three nights, three wins.

That's what the Thunder accomplished with an easy 108-96 win over the Spurs Sunday, but there was a little deeper meaning to it. It wasn't just a win over a team Oklahoma City had lost six consecutive games to. It was a testing ground for something the Thunder haven't had to deal with since their rise as a Western contender -- a major injury to a key rotation player.

A night after losing backup point guard Eric Maynor to a season-ending ACL tear, the Thunder were left to find a new answer behind All-Star Russell Westbrook. Would it be Royal Ivey, the steady veteran? Just more minutes for Westbrook? Moving super sixth man James Harden for some time out front?

Or just hand the keys to a rookie taken in last June's draft? As it is in Oklahoma City, next man up.

Reggie Jackson -- yes, Reggie Jackson, real name -- stepped in for Maynor in a big way scoring 11 points and dishing out four assists. Head coach Scott Brooks didn't baby him along either. Jackson came in right at the time Maynor normally does and played Maynor's usual fill of minutes. And in those nine minutes spanning the end of the first quarter to the middle of the second, the Thunder were a plus-10 on the Spurs.

“I thought he did well,” Brooks said. “I thought he did a really good job of picking his spots and running the team.”

Said Harden: "[Jackson] was very good. He's got a long way to go but he made all the right plays, made shots and got into the lane. Over time, he'll get better and he'll get a feel for the game."

Some of you might be thinking, "So what, a backup point guard? Call me when Kevin Durant gets hurt." Thing is, the Thunder's bench has become one of its most valued weapons. With Harden, plus-minus machine Nick Collison and Maynor, the Thunder had at least one of the top three second units in basketball. That time during the early second quarter and early fourth when both teams have most of their benches in were times the Thunder could really take control of games.

So without a major part of that group, it was a legit question to wonder if the Thunder had lost a potential championship piece. And they still might have, but the early returns on Westbrook's backup's backup were very good. Jackson played under control, played confident and played smooth. It's one game and the key to any backup point man is consistency, especially when you're doing it behind someone as erratic as Westbrook. But Jackson made a strong case for claiming that role for at least the rest of this year.

For a young group like the Thunder though, part of the question with a loss like Maynor was the psyche of the team. They battled back Saturday night after Maynor left the game against Houston and won on the road. But how would they respond on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back sans one of their closest friends? The players were clearly shaken when Maynor had to be literally carried off the floor by Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.

"The whole season is now for Eric," Harden said. "It's a tough loss. We were all sad. We got to spend some time with him last night at his house just giving some comfort and showing him how much we care."

But injuries happen and you have to move on. Not an easy thing to do, but maybe playing a third game in three nights was a good thing for this young group. Instead of dwelling on what happened to their buddy, the Thunder just got to pick up the pieces, stop thinking and play ball.

You've got to be mentally tough to contend for trophies. Whether it's a media firestorm over your two stars having an alleged altercation on the bench or one of your key players being lost with an ugly injury, you have to block it all out and just keep playing. It's been an early test for the Thunder and right now, they're passing. The season isn't even a month old and the Thunder have already been through a lot. And so far, it looks like it might just be making them stronger.
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:15 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 6:19 pm
 

Maynor to miss rest of season; what now for OKC?

Posted by Royce Young

Eric Maynor will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season with a torn right ACL, the team announced Sunday afternoon.

“It is unfortunate to lose a player like Eric, whose work ethic and leadership has contributed to the culture of our organization,” Sam Presti said in a release. “Knowing him and the mental toughness he possesses, we are confident that he will do everything necessary to come back from this injury and be prepared for the 2012-13 season. Injuries are part of the NBA, and although it is tough to lose Eric, we must move forward and focus on our continued improvement as a basketball team.”

This is really the first major injury the Thunder have had to deal with. There have been some rolled ankles and sprained knees, but nothing this serious to this important of a player. It will be a big test for the Thunder’s depth, but also on their mental toughness. Losing a player that’s so close to everyone like Maynor isn’t easy.

Rookie Reggie Jackson seems like the obvious replacement for Maynor’s 10-15 minutes a night behind Russell Westbrook, but don’t be shocked if Scott Brooks uses Royal Ivey in that spot as well. Ivey is a steady veteran that is an ideal guy to give you 10 minutes of smart basketball. He won’t make big plays like Maynor, but unless Brooks really trusts in his rookie from Boston College, Ivey is the safer choice, at least for now.

But Jackson says he's ready for a big role on a contending team.

"Somebody has to step up in his position and I guess that’s what I have to try to go out there and do; be me and hopefully I can do enough for this team to keep winning," Jackson said before OKC's game Sunday.

Or even James Harden. I think Harden is entirely capable of handling some point guard duties in stretches and if Brooks is looking for a playmaker and doesn’t entirely feel Jackson is ready and that Ivey doesn’t add enough, Harden can run pick-and-roll all day long. He’s a great passes and while the bench will take a hit in depth, just play Daequan Cook more minutes.

It’s time for Brooks to coach a bit and figure out how to keep this team running while missing an important piece.

Brooks said before the Thunder's game against the Spurs Sunday that all three scenarios are likely, with a third thrown in too: Russell Westbrook just plays more minutes. Westbrook has been quite the iron man since entering the league having never missed a game in his three-plus seasons.

Obviously Presti could look at the free agent market a bit or the D-League or even a trade. But I’m sure the team is going to want to give Jackson a real hard, long look before they go that direction.

Posted on: January 7, 2012 10:11 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 5:25 pm
 

Eric Maynor tears right ACL, to miss season

Posted by Royce Young



UPDATE: The Thunder announced Sunday that after evaluation, it was revealed that Maynor tore his right ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2011-12 season.

“It is unfortunate to lose a player like Eric, whose work ethic and leadership has contributed to the culture of our organization,” Sam Presti said in a release. “Knowing him and the mental toughness he possesses, we are confident that he will do everything necessary to come back from this injury and be prepared for the 2012-13 season. Injuries are part of the NBA, and although it is tough to lose Eric, we must move forward and focus on our continued improvement as a basketball team.”

---

Early in the fourth quarter Saturday against the Rockets, Thunder backup point guard Eric Maynor went down with what appears to be a pretty serious right knee injury. His knee buckled underneath him and he had to be carried off the floor by his teammates.

Don't want to speculate on it, but it certainly didn't look good especially with Maynor's reaction. Maynor is a major part of Oklahoma City's solid bench, backing up All-Star Russell Westbrook. Maynor is a more steady, even-handed change of pace off the bench for OKC, looking to play more as a pure point to Westbrook's scoring-minded, aggressive style.

The Thunder have two other point guards on the roster in rookie Reggie Jackson and veteran Royal Ivey.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 2:42 pm
 

Kendrick Perkins' says he was only drinking water

Posted by Royce Young

For Kendrick Perkins, his weekend arrest really didn't carry much of any punishment. It was just a misdemeanor charge, he got out on $150 bail and with a little community service, I'm sure he'll be able to move past whatever happened at a bar in his hometown of Beaumont, TX.

But Perkins sees the punishment of public perception as too much to ignore. Which is why he's going on the offensive.

Tuesday, we told you about his denial of the claims made by police after his arrest for public intoxication. Through a lawyer's statement, Perkins claims he was actually injured during whatever happened and even considered a police brutality complaint. And now, there's more. Via the Oklahoman, a publicist for Perkins says he was only having water at the bar and there are witnesses to verify it.

“Although these may be misdemeanors, it’s a big deal to Kendrick,” said Denise White. “He’s not happy about how things happened that evening and feels like the police were out of hand … He was not drinking alcohol, nor was he intoxicated. Not one drop of alcohol Friday night. We’re not sure why they said Kendrick was intoxicated. There are witnesses inside the club that will attest to Kendrick only drinking water that evening.”

How can we be sure about this? We can't, because evidently police did not administer a breathalyzer or take a blood test. And if you've ever heard Perk talk, it might be kind of difficult to tell if he's been drinking or not. That slow Texas drawl makes it sound like he's slurring everything. I mean, doesn't it seem a bit strange that he was arrested for public intoxication and they didn't actually prove he was intoxicated? Does to me.

So why did everything get out of hand? White says Perkins disagreed with the club's manager over money.

White said the altercation early Saturday morning stemmed from Perkins attempting to collect money from the club manager with whom he had struck a deal for the use of the establishment as an after party site wrapping up the event. The money, White said, was to go to Perkins' foundation, which aims to help children learn life skills and drug-awareness. According to White, the club owner became combative with Perkins and refused to hand over the money. An assistant to Perkins diffused the situation before “the lone policeman inside the club started harassing Kendrick to leave,” White said. Once outside, White said, another officer became more combative with Perkins, pushing him and grabbing his arm. Perkins, White said, was upset and pulled away. The officer then arrested him.

“We still don't know why he was physical with Kendrick,” White said.

Hey, at least it wasn't because of bourre.

Perkins was recovering as well from an incident that forced him to cancel his celebrity fundraiser game as well as skip a banquet for his camp. He reportedly was taken to the hospital the night before the arrest for dehydration. The word on that from White is that Perkins fainted playing dominoes at Stephen Jackson's house. He had been playing basketball with campers and then his friends who were in town -- Jackson, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Durant, Eric Maynor and James Harden -- and the 100 degree Heat and humidity in Beaumont caught up to him.

Whatever happened, at least we're getting two sides to the story. Perkins obviously is trying to clear his name from what became a pretty ugly stain on an otherwise solid reputation. I'm sure the clean-cut Thunder appreciate the effort too.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:22 pm
 

NBA Trade Rumor: OKC shopping Maynor for lottery?

Posted by Royce Young

There’s always a lot of smoke on draft day. For instance, that the Spurs might trade Tony Parker for a lottery pick. Which is why I wouldn’t get too hot and bothered at word that the Thunder are shopping Eric Maynor to move into the first 14 picks.

Via ESPN.com:

Is Thunder point guard Eric Maynor worth a lottery pick? Sources say the Thunder have been quietly gauging interest in Maynor during the past few days in an attempt to move up into the top half of the first round. They’ve spoken to the Kings (No. 7) and Bobcats (No. 9) in particular in the past few days.

Maynor was the 20th pick in the 2009 draft, which was one of the most loaded point guard drafts. With so few quality point guards on the board this year, would a team covet him more than Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette?

Who are the Thunder after? Like a lot of teams, it seems they are in hot pursuit of Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas.

If you recall, there was a lot of talk that the Thunder were in heavy conversations with the Pacers involving Maynor last draft day. With Maynor being one of the premier backup point guards in the league and likely starter material, Sam Presti is probably trying to gauge a little value with Maynor.

How good do other teams think he is?

But if the Thunder could give away their backup point guard who sees 10-15 minutes a night for a lottery pick they’re very high on and then use the 24th pick on Reggie Jackson or another backup point guard, it makes a little sense. A lot of teams are high on Valanciunas, the Thunder being one of them, I guess.

Where it doesn’t make sense is that the Thunder already have a long-term center in Kendrick Perkins and already have an international project in Tibor Pleiss. Not to mention Byron Mullens and Cole Aldrich. I just don’t see where Valanciunas really fits in to the future of the roster. Unless it’s not Valanciunas they want. (Maybe it’s JIMMER?!?!)

It’s going to be tough to retain Maynor in the future anyway as he’s too good to afford but not good enough to pay. Maybe Presti is trying to get out in front of that issue and shuffle in a new backup to Westbrook.

I think this is more of a smoke rather than a fire deal, but something that will make tonight’s draft a bit more interesting for Thunder fans for sure.

Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:41 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 6:01 am
 

Series Grades: Thunder down Grizzlies in 7

Grading an epic series between the Thunder and Grizzlies.

Posted by Matt Moore



Here are grades for the grueling seven-game series between the Thunder and Grizzlies that brought us the hero James Harden, a grueling triple-overtime, and the continuing legends of Zach Randolph and Kevin Durant.


Oklahoma City Thunder


Kevin Durant: An up-and-down series for the scoring champ. When he was good, he was superb. When he was bad, his team was sunk. Durant had a few bad games in this series and that went a long way in driving the series to seven games despite the Thunder matchup advantages. He was superb in Game 7 though, as expected, working off-ball to get his game back on track after a rough start. Durant's ability to draw fouls went a long way in this series, as the Grizzlies could seemingly do nothing defensively without collecting fouls. Throw in his leadership and you have a good series, obviously, with the win, but also one that brought questions about his ability to create space and get the ball. If Russell Westbrook caught flak for being too aggressive, Durant quietly started establishing questions about not being enough so. But again, a win is a win and Durant was a huge part of it.


Grade: B+


Russell Westbrook:  Our own Royce Young will be happy to tell you about how Westbrook wasn't any different in this series than he ever has been, and that too much of the blame was put on Westbrook for his play. But the issue with Westbrook isn't that he's not getting the ball to Durant. That's on Durant. The problem is that too often Westbrook goes to his own playbook, his own aggressivness. He forces drives that end in charges, he elects for the jumper with slashers going to the rim, he lacks the patience to reset the offense. But all of those negative things don't change the fact that the biggest reason the Thunder won this series was Russell Westbrook and his undaunted assault on the rim. Westbrook knew the Grizzlies had no option to contain him on the perimeter, and attacked relentelessly. If that was sometimes to a fault, it shouldn't outweigh how good he was in finishing and piling up easy points at the rim. Westbrook closed with a triple-double on a bad shooting night, but amassing tons of rebounds on both sides of the floor and getting teammates involved. Did Westbrook cost the Thunder two games? Probably. But they wouldn't have won the four they did without him.

Grade: A-


James Harden: James Harden had the series of his life. He's been en fuego since the trade deadline, and stepped it up in this series. If the Thunder couldn't have won without Westbrook, Harden was a close second. Knocking down 3s, driving, collecting fouls, stealing the ball, and being a distributor, which is huge, especialy when Westbrook is in hero mode. The Grizzlies had no cover for Harden. When he started to insert himself in the series, that was when it changed. 

Grade: A+


Nick Collison: They kept talking about how he's Mr. Intangibles, but Collison's production was pretty tangible. Rebounds, blocks, and missed field goals for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Collison did the job Ibaka could not, taking the Grizzlies' dominance inside away. Again, as the series progressed, he took over. The Grizzlies' biggest advantage was inside, and Collison negated it. Huge minutes from the former Jayhawk. If he can keep that up against Dirk... yeah, just kidding. But seriously, good series. 


Grade: A


Scott Brooks: Failed to get final possessions set up well. Failed to get Westbrook in line. Failed to create an offense with cohesion outside of "run fast at the rim and either score or get fouled." Failed to give Harden significant minutes over Thabo until the end. Got the win. Scott Brooks is an incredible developmental coach and defensive mind. But this series may have begun the question about whether he can be the guy, should the Thunder not win the title. But hey, win and no one will care.

Grade: C


Thunder Crowd: Phenomenal, as always. Many people questioned whether OKC's crowd would be any good when they moved from the vaunted Seattle fanbase. Instead, the Thunder crowd are showing the greatness of small market crowds who are rabid, early, and loud, every game, every minute. Standing ovation for their standing ovation.

Grade: A+


Memphis Grizzlies


Zach Randolph: Randolph had two huge games, Game 1 and Game 6, where he won the game nearly by himself. He was a monster in those games. In the others? He struggled. His inability to adjust to the officiating or create space, or find Marc Gasol when the double came hurt the Grizzlies. Randolph was the focal point of the defense and still produced, but you still walk away feeling like if he could have been a little more efficient, it would have been enough for Memphis to advance in the West. Shouldn't take away what has been an incredible postseason from him. 

Grade: B-


Mike Conley: Conley is in a rough spot with Memphis. He's relied upon to hit shots from the perimeter when no one else can, but not take too many shots. He needs to distribute, but if others aren't hitting, he has to score. He gets killed for being a defensive liability but has to guard the second best player on each team. Conley needed to be flawless for this series. He wasn't. He was average. Which isn't bad, it just wasn't enough for Memphis to overcome the mismatches.

Grade: C+


Marc Gasol: Where did the beast go? OKC was able to hammer Gasol time and time again and without getting the calls, Gasol couldn't respond. Perkins and Ibaka contributing on offense reflects badly, but more importantly the work done on the offensive glass really takes the wind out of what was his coming out party.

Grade: C


O.J. Mayo: Step on up trade partners! Mayo had a phenomenal playoff series, and was the biggest reason the Grizzlies forced this to seven games. He did fantastic work, and actually won the matchup with Harden until Game 4. If Mayo's still on the market, he's going to elicit some big offers this summer. A great comeback story for Memphis, and parallels the city and team's resilience.

Grade: A-


Lionel Hollins: Hollins had no advantages outside of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and that was slim. He faced an uphill battle these entire playoffs and took the 8th seed to a seventh game against a star studded young team after a grueling first round series against the best team in the West record-wise. He had the Grizzlies respond to a Game 5 beatdown to force Game 7 despite every reason to quit. Hollins made mistakes trusting Sam Young too much and not reigning in Tony Allen's offense. But he did a phenomenal job getting the team this far. 

Grade: A-


Game 4:
A triple-overtime thriller between two great small-market teams with young rosters, giving everything they got. We had ten great moments from it. There could have been 20 more. Arguably the best game of the playoffs. 

Grade: A+

Posted on: May 14, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 8:50 pm
 

Playoff Fix: Thunder, Grizzlies tangle in Game 7

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies face off in the first Game 7 of the 2010-2011 NBA Playoffs. Posted by Ben Golliver.

kevin-durant-mad

One Big Thing: More than any other series, the Thunder-Grizzlies one has been about giant swings in momentum, emotion and energy. After an exhausting triple overtime in Game 4, the Thunder ran the Grizzlies out of the building in Game 5. In Game 6, the Thunder collapsed after halftime, looking out-of-sync and lethargic as the Grizzlies put the hammer down. Game 7, then, is simply about who has more left in the tank. With home-court advantage and an edge in overall talent, that should be the Thunder. 

The X-Factor: Thunder forward Kevin Durant, the league's best and most consistent scorer, sure picked a bad night to have his worst performance of the season. His season-low 11 points in Game 6 was troubling because he appeared openly frustrated -- both by the aggressive Memphis defense he's been facing and with teammate Russell Westbrook's decision-making.

Durant was sensational in closing out the Denver Nuggets in the first round, and an approximation of that performance should be enough to send the Thunder through to the Western Conference finals. If he no-shows again, though, Oklahoma City will find itself in a situation where Westbrook feels like he has to carry the entire burden. That's never a good thing. There are no excuses in a Game 7. Coexisting with Westbrook, the harassing defense and fatigue must become non-factors. Durant is staring at a legacy-impacting game and he needs to step up. 

The Adjustment: Before Game 6, I noted that Memphis needed to get back to what it does best: force-feeding Zach Randolph. It was better for the Grizzlies to go down doing what they do well than to go down doing what they do poorly. The flip is now true for Oklahoma City. If they're going to get eliminated from these playoffs, they need to force someone (anyone!) besides Randolph to send them packing.

Oklahoma City must double Zach Randolph early and often. It doesn't have to occur on every touch but it needs to happen a lot more than it did in Game 6, when Randolph went off for 30 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes. Yes, Nick Collison and company have done an excellent job handling Randolph in this series and they've gone above and beyond in doing their best to neutralize him on the glass. But Memphis simply lacks the floor-spacers to make the Thunder pay for over-committing to Randolph. If nothing else, daring Mike Conley to shoot at every turn would be a significantly better strategy than letting Randolph work one-on-one. Conley has shot just 9-for-40 in the last three games combined, including just 3-12 from downtown. 

The Sticking Point: Westbrook has become a lightning rod for criticism in this series thanks to his shot-jacking (17.8 field goal attempts per game), his turnovers (3.7 per game) and the Thunder's stagnation during critical late-game stretches that has produced a lot of one-on-one play from Westbrook and a lot of standing around from Durant. In the big picture, that Westbrook has already accomplished so much so early in his career is remarkable.

But this is not the time for Westbrook's supporters to be preaching patience, lest an opportunity be lost. Despite their youth, Oklahoma City is just five wins away from the NBA Finals and, when they're clicking on offense, they have the potential to be a legit title contender right now. Game 7 should be a good window into whether Westbrook and company are happy with what they've accomplished or are motivated enough to make some adjustments (better ball movement late in games, better shot selection, a bit more care with the ball when things break down in the halfcourt) so that they can move on to the next step.
Posted on: May 14, 2011 2:03 am
Edited on: May 14, 2011 2:06 am
 

Kevin Durant goes ice cold in loss to Grizzlies

Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant goes ice cold in a Game 6 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant is the NBA's most prolific scorer and its most consistent. Nobody fills it up like Durant, who averaged 29.7 points on the season, and, we demonstrated earlier this season, nobody does it on a night in and night out basis quite like K.D. 

Like any elite scorer, Durant's overall impact on a game and his ability to get the ball in the hole are intertwined. When he's feeling it, things open up for his teammates and he plays defense with an extra kick in his step. When he's off, he's more likely to stand around as a passive observer of the game and to force his shots from outside. 

What we've seen from Durant in Games 5 and 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies is something he hasn't done all season: Have two "bad" scoring nights in a row.

In Game 5, Durant scored just 19 points (was still the team's leading scorer) in a Thunder blowout win, playing just 31 points. In Game 6, Durant had arguably his worst all-around offensive performance of the season, scoring a season-low 11 points and shooting 3-for-14 from the field. That tied season-lows in field goals and field goal percentage, and he attempted zero shots coming from in the paint. All in all, just terrible and very anti-Durant. 

During the 2010-2011 season (including playoffs), Durant scored less than twenty points just seven times. His ability to bounce back from those games was remarkable: In the seven games following his less than 20 point performances, Durant averaged 28.4 points and scored at least 26 points in five of them. In other words, the 30 combined points in Games 5 and 6 are by far his lowest two-game point totals of the year.

Here's a chart to emphasize the back-to-back scoring cliff Durant has fallen off. The season progresses through time from left to right.
kevin-durant-points

On Friday night, Durant obviously battled foul troubles, picking up two quick ones in the first quarter which led to an extended rest that appeared to affect his rhythm. It wasn't just the fouls, though. Durant was standing around and watching, strugging to get open and rushing his shots once he did get touches. He wasn't totally disintersted but he certainly wasn't engaged, especially as Oklahoma City crashed and burned down the stretch, scoring just 29 points as a team in the second half.

That Durant struggled for the second game in a row at the worst possible time should absolutely be concerning to Thunder fans. His excellent ability to bounce back from poor scoring performances will be badly needed during Sunday night's Game 7. Two games in a row under 20 points was, to this point, unprecedented. Three games in a row under 20 points is almost unfathomable, and it would very likely mean an early end to the Thunder's dream season.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com