Durant drops 40 as Warriors blowout Thunder

After a lopsided Golden State victory in their first matchup back in November, The Warriors steamrolled the Thunder again at the Oracle Arena on Wednesday night 121-100. As expected, the game was physical and uptempo. For fans who did not stay up to watch the drama unfold between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook a second time around, surely enough, the two still are not on talking terms. 

Photo by USA Today

Photo by USA Today

To start, the Warriors jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead after Stephen Curry drained a three from way beyond the arch. The first quarter incorporated a big scoring effort from Thunder guard Victor Oladipo, who had 10 points on 4-5 shooting. His backcourt mate Russell Westbrook went to work early on a triple-double, amassing 7 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds in the first quarter. 

The Thunder eventually took the lead behind some scrappy play and scoring from Enes Kanter partway through the second quarter, extending their lead to 40-33. The Warriors answered right back with David West scoring six unanswered points off the bench.

The physicality came into play after the Warrior's center, Zaza Pachulia received a flagrant 1 for his foul on Russell Westbrook. 

The second half is where Golden State turned the jets on and where the Thunder's wheels fell off. The Warriors finished the night shooting 54% from the field and 48% from three. The Thunder, however, managed to shoot just 42% from the field and a lowly 28% from downtown. The game quickly turned into the Kevin Durant show as the Warriors rallied off 8 points unanswered in the third quarter to bring their lead to 71-63. 

With the game slipping away, Russell Westbrook managed to secure his 21st triple-double of the season as the third quarter came to a close. Kevin Durant was on fire late in the third quarter, scoring 31 points in 26 minutes. The Warriors finished the third quarter ahead 93-78. 

Golden State, lead by Durant's 40 points and 12 rebounds went on to win 121-100. The Warriors had just two turnovers in the second half, both coming in the fourth quarter and out-rebounded the Thunder 46-36. Golden State is now 36-6 and Durant moves to 2-0 against his former teammate, Russell Westbrook.

 

Next up for both teams:

Warriors (36-6) @ Rockets (33-12) / Friday, Jan. 20th at 5:00PM PT

Thunder (25-19) @ Jazz (27-16) / Monday, Jan. 23rd at 8:00PM CT

 

Does the NBA have a traveling problem?

Last night's Warriors vs. Thunder game managed to be filled with plenty of drama and enough camera pans to give Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook their own reality-television show. However, halfway through the game, something else happened. Russell Westbrook received an inbound pass and proceeded to walk up the court without dribbling the basketball. In total, Westbrook took six steps before being called for traveling. 

Photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press

Photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press

Westbrook's blatant travel can be seen below:

While the NBA has long been a game of restrictions and officiating, players have continuously found different ways to stretch the limitation of rules in the sport. Just as the NFL has had discrepancies with their catch rules, the NBA's traveling dilemma has also been brought to light with the emergence of social media and instant replay. The league's officiating manages to miss some of the most blatant travel calls to viewers at home, but most missed travels have little impact on the outcome of games.

For example, James Harden's signature step back has drawn criticism from NBA fans for bending the rulebook of the league. Harden's step back consists of three steps. The first is a push-step backward, followed by his second and third steps from landing. Generally speaking, players are allowed two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball. A player who receives the ball while standing may pivot, using either foot as the pivot foot. 

Harden's move has even caused reddit users to post threads based off clips of his supposed uncalled travel: 

Last year against the Spurs, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was vocal regarding an uncalled travel that cost the Warriors a game during their record-setting regular season. "I need to write down that traveling is now allowed in the NBA," Kerr said after the 87-79 loss in an interview with ABC7. "Silly me. I forgot that they got rid of that rule, so we'll have to adjust."

The issue with the lack of transparency regarding the rule of traveling poses a real problem for the NBA, especially during pivotal moments. Referees can only catch so much given how fast the game is played. The league has the opportunity to implement a solution before the integrity of the game and an undeserving victor is crowned because of it. One solution that comes to mind would be allotting each team one challenge call on a missed call.

Moreover, the league ultimately determines what goes and what does not. One thing is for certain, the lines are blurred now more than ever. 


Ray Clay: Trip Down Memory Lane

After venturing to the UIC basketball game on Tuesday night, I was met with a familiar voice by the public address announcer working the game. My mind was quick to think, but struggled at first. It was in the realm of "Hey, I know that guy, but I haven't heard him in a decade. Who is that guy?!". After a brief discussion with my teacher, we came to the realization that it was none other than Ray Clay. 

For those who did not have the opportunity to enjoy Michael Jordan and the six-time championship-winning Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, then Ray Clay's name might mean very little. However, for those who heard the sounds that erupted from the United Center and the televised broadcasts, Ray Clay's name carries a little more weight. 

Clay began his career announcing basketball games for the UIC Flames in 1980 before landing the job with the Chicago Bulls in 1990. Clay went on to work for the Bulls as their public address announcer throughout their title-runs, spanning nearly 13 seasons. In an interview with UIC's Gary Wibsy in 2007, Clay said, "When I started talking, they started winning," he joked. "But it's really because of Number 23."

Clay during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls.

Clay during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls.

Michael Jordan was number 23, but to Ray Clay and the rest of the fans, he became known as "Frommmm North Carolina...at guard....6'6"....Michael Jordan!". Clay belted out each player's name with an extreme sense of enthusiasm backed by the use of The Alan Parsons Project song "Sirius" as introduction music. To this day, Clay's impact and addressing style are mimicked throughout the league.

Despite eventually parting ways with the Bulls, Clay has always managed to stay busy with work. Since 1980, Clay has worked announcing the UIC basketball games and in 2006, he was hired to be an announcer for the Chicago Sky of the WNBA. 

In bringing myself back to my seat at the UIC Pavilion, Tuesday night, I found myself pleased to find a familiar voice in a foreign arena, full of strangers. Simply put, Ray Clay's voice is rooted deeply in Chicago sports history and the minds of fans galore.

UIC Flames win 3rd consecutive Horizon League matchup against Milwaukee Panthers

Tai Odiase secured his fourth double-double of the year behind 20 points and 12 rebounds. 

UIC's Tai Odiase lead the way with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

UIC's Tai Odiase lead the way with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

After taking two games in Ohio from Cleveland State and Youngstown State, UIC kept their momentum going full sprint into last night's sole Horizon League matchup. The 71-57 victory puts UIC at (4-2) in conference, while remaining just one game back from conference leader, Valparaiso. 

The game quickly turned into UIC's favor behind junior, Tai Odiase's fourth double-double of the year. The Flames fast start was aided by their ball movement, which lead to an early 12-4 lead in the first half. Dominique Matthews helped drive that message home with a big three-pointer with 14:59 left in the half. 

After the Panthers cut the lead to three points, the Flames jumped back ahead to a 20-11 lead after a crowd-pleasing alley-oop from Tarkus Ferguson to Tai Odiase. The first half was a struggle for both teams' defenses. UIC's top-ranked Horizon League defense (65.3 PPG) managed to let the Panthers hang around with a lack of interior stops. 

After a first half that saw the Flames out-rebound the Panthers (22-16), UIC's defense, lead by Tai Odiase's 6 blocks, managed to come out in the second half blazing. The Flames saw the momentum switch after Michael Kolawole completed a 3-point play after a hard foul to give UIC a 36-26 lead. 

UIC's conference leading (65.3 PPG Allowed) showed up against the Panthers, allowing just 51 points. 

UIC's conference leading (65.3 PPG Allowed) showed up against the Panthers, allowing just 51 points. 

After a second half that saw UIC shoot 53.8% from the field and 45.5% from three, the Flames broke the lead to a game-high 19 points. UIC's separation from the Panthers came in multiple scores from Dominque Matthews and Godwin Boahen's closing triples. 

In a night that featured men jumping on pogo sticks for the half-time show, the on-court entertainment was fueled by Tai Odiase's 20 points and 12 rebounds. Odiase's 6 blocks helped move him into UIC's 2nd all-time leading position with 205 blocks. 

As for Coach McClain, his young squad has already surpassed last year's efforts. Last season, UIC managed to only win three Horizon League games. After leading scorer, Dikembe Dixson went down early this season with a torn acl, McClain's team has rallied to win 11 games thus far. That number is the most since UIC won 18 games in the 2012-2013 season.

 

Next Up:

The Flames (11-8, 4-2) will travel and face-off against conference leader, Valparaiso (15-4, 5-1) on Jan. 22nd. 

 

Pioneer Woods - Dusk Shoot

A little while ago, Sarah and Danielle wanted to take pictures in time for Christmas. The photographs were intended to be gifts, and I wanted to make sure we carved out enough time in the freezing weather to capture what we needed. The south suburbs of Chicago during the winter can be grunge-filled and rather lifeless at times. Fortunately for us, we had heavy snowfall that had some staying power. The snow allowed for some pretty clean shots and helped everything pop that was in focus. Below are some of my favorites from the sequence of pictures we took at dusk. (Also, Sarah and Danielle were both rockstars braving the elements; True warriors.) 

Winter Sunrise

After my last class this week, my girlfriend, Mary and I decided to head downtown for an early morning sunrise and breakfast. In my opinion, Chicago looks best with a little warmth glaring onto it. We walked along the lakefront capturing what we thought would suffice until heading over to the Hard Rock Hotel for an elevated vantage point. I am going to try and make a concerted effort to create and explore more. I hope you like the photos and I appreciate you taking the time to come over and check this short piece out.

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