Thunder Find New Meaning For "Rip City"


By Randy Renner, Senior Writer

Portland, at least as far as basketball is concerned, is known as “Rip City.”

Back in 1971, the Trail Blazers first season in the NBA, guard Jim Barnett became the inspiration for the moniker when he fired up a long shot (well beyond what would eventually become the 3-point line) that ripped the nets to tie a game with the hated Los Angeles Lakers.

The Blazers radio announcer Bill Schonely reacted by saying “RIP CITY!” and all of a sudden a slogan was born.

After last night’s 103-99 loss in Portland the Thunder probably have a different definition of Rip City, as in ripped off.

After originally being given an “and-1” call on a driving layup that sent Blazers center Jusef Nurkic sprawling to the floor in the 3rd quarter Carmelo Anthony was instead (upon further review) shown a finger, pointing the way toward the OKC lockerroom.

Lead official Rodney Mott, reversed the basket and a foul on Nurkic and turned it into a flagrant foul 2 on Anthony which carries an automatic ejection.

Thunder head coach Billy Donovan couldn’t believe it.

"I've never seen, in the history of the game, a guy gets an and-1' play and then gets ejected from the game,'' Donovan told reporters.

Anthony sort of shrugged it off.

“They called it,” Anthony said. “Ain’t no need to overreact to it. I’m pretty sure a lot of people seen it. People saw it. I’m pretty sure people’s opinion is in favor of the way that I think,” which is that he didn’t deserve to be ejected, that the original call should have held up.

Because of the controversy the NBA allowed a poll reporter to get a statement from Mott as to why he and his officiating crew ruled a flagrant 2.

''We deemed that the contact was excessive and that it was not a natural basketball move where he seeks out Nurkic, hits him in the face with an elbow and goes back to the basket,'' Mott told a pool reporter.

A couple minutes before the Melo play Thunder superstar point guard Russell Westbrook was hit in the face too, but no call was made. Donovan asked Mott to review it but his request was denied.

“I think when someone gets hit in the face and goes down to the floor and you gotta call a timeout, you should at least review it just to make sure,” he said after the game.

Westbrook too was not happy about it and seemed to suggest the Thunder are being treated unfairly by the gray shirt gang.

“I got hit in the face,” Westbrook said. “They didn’t review it, as they should. I just think that when it’s us, our team, myself, they don’t do the same thing they do other games.”

And that, Westbrook believes, “is a bunch of bulls---.”

No question something is going on with Thunder free throw shooting. They’re taking less than what they’ve traditionally averaged over the years and this season Westbrook is way off the mark in more ways than one.

Despite his typical aggressive drives to the basket that usually draw fouls, he’s getting to the line slightly less than six times a game. Last season he averaged more than 10 free throws a game. He’s also missing from the foul stripe at an alarming rate. Westbrook is a career 82 percent free throw shooter but last night at Portland he made just 2-of-7, missing all five of his free throws in the 4th quarter and three straight with his team down four with 20 seconds to play after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.

With last night’s game in the books he’s hitting just 58.8 percent of his free throws. Andre Roberson, for crying out loud, is up now to 50 percent on the season from the stripe.

So something clearly isn’t right, finding out what that is, isn’t very clear.


Randy RennerComment