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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook slammed his hand on the scorer’s table in anger. He had been slowing down to call a timeout when rookie Patrick Beverley came careening in to try for a steal and crashed into Westbrook’s knee.
Oklahoma City’s guard shook off the pain and the Thunder withstood a challenge from an energized Houston Rockets team looking to bounce back from a Game 1 blowout.
Westbrook and Kevin Durant scored 29 points apiece, and Oklahoma City recovered after squandering a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead to beat Houston 105-102 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference first-round series.
“It’s the playoffs,” Westbrook said. “You can’t help it. You can’t help but get excited.”
Oklahoma City’s big lead melted away with nine straight scoreless possessions as the Rockets mixed in a zone defense. James Harden spearheaded a 21-2 Houston comeback by getting into the lane to create his own opportunities, and he also kicked the ball out to set up two 3-pointers by Carlos Delfino. His second 3, from the right wing, provided a 95-91 lead with 3:27 to go.
But the Rockets couldn’t keep it up.
Oklahoma City came back to tie it before Harden knifed to the basket for a layup to give Houston its last lead at 97-95 with 2:42 to play.
Durant answered 14 seconds later with a deep 3 from the left wing, and the Thunder wouldn’t give up the lead again. Oklahoma City came up with back-to-back stops before Thabo Sefolosha’s 3 provided a little breathing room at 101-97.
Chandler Parsons, who went tumbling to the court as Sefolosha shot, said Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins prevented him from closing out on the shooter.
“It was obvious what Perkins did to me. He grabbed me with two hands and I couldn’t go out there and contest Sefolosha,” Parsons said. “It’s part of the game.”
Serge Ibaka added a long jumper to make it 103-98 after the Rockets forced Durant to give up the ball. Durant and Kevin Martin, both in the top five in the league in free-throw percentage, both went 1 for 2 at the foul line in the final 12 seconds to give the Rockets one last chance.
Houston didn’t have any timeouts left after Durant’s miss with 1 second left, and Delfino couldn’t connect on a desperation shot at the buzzer.
“It’s frustrating and it hurts really bad right now,” said Parsons, who scored 17. “But you’ve got to take some positives out of it. It’s a long series.”
Game 3 is Saturday night in Houston.
Harden finished with 36 points and 11 rebounds, and Beverley had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Houston. The Rockets made up for a 40 percent shooting mark with a 57-40 advantage on the boards and a 50-30 scoring edge in the paint, engineering a massive turnaround after getting blown out 120-91 in Game 1.
And they did it without starting point guard Jeremy Lin, who didn’t play in the second half because of a muscle contusion in his chest. Lin said X-rays were negative and he could play in Game 3 if spasms stop.
“Our team is a young team and we’re not a perfect team by any stretch of the imagination, but they’ll fight,” coach Kevin McHale said. “They’re a bunch of scrappers. They’ll go out and fight you for it. So, I knew our team would play well today. That’s who they are.”
Beverley moved into the starting lineup as Houston went with a three-guard unit, and it didn’t take long for the rookie to get under Westbrook’s skin with his lunge for the steal.
Later in the half, Beverley knocked Westbrook down on a foul and then reached out to help him up. Westbrook slapped his hand away.
“It’s part of basketball, playoff basketball. Everyone wants to go out there and win,” Beverley said. “Anyone who knows me, knows my character, that I’m not going to back down from anyone, Russell Westbrook or anybody else.”
Westbrook said he relishes those moments when he gets challenged by an opponent.
“It’s fun. During this time of the year, as a team we’ve got one goal and we can’t let nobody get in the way,” Westbrook said. “That’s how I feel and that’s how I want my team to respond as well.”
Another rookie, Greg Smith, drew a technical foul when he jawed at Ibaka after dunking on the NBA’s top shot-blocker and Houston was within 57-55 at halftime.
Just after Harden’s driving throwdown put Houston ahead 63-61, Oklahoma City roared back with Ibaka keying a 13-0 run. He swatted Omer Asik’s dunk attempt, hit two free throws and grabbed an offensive rebound that set up Westbrook’s three-point play. The Thunder started the fourth quarter with an 11-2 to run to push their lead to 89-74 after Martin’s 3-pointer with 9:22 to go.
McHale called time out, and the Rockets immediately responded with Beverley’s 3-pointer off a set play beginning the comeback.
“We were down 15, we could have just given up the game and said, ‘Let’s go to Game 3,’ but we fought back and took the lead,” Harden said. “So, we definitely have some confidence going into Game 3 and going back home.”
NOTES: Beverley had not started any games during his rookie season, moving into the rotation midway through the season and playing 41 games. … After finishing second to Tyson Chandler in last year’s voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Ibaka was third this year behind Marc Gasol and LeBron James. Ibaka has led the NBA in total blocks the past three seasons. “He led the league three years in blocks. I guess that don’t mean nothing nowadays,” frontcourt partner Perkins said. “At the end of the day, I think he deserves it. He should have won the thing. But it’s over with, so we’re just going to move on.”
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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