Forum Blue and Gold on the Thunder: “The Thunder have been winning their way out of the highest of picks recently, having gone 5-5 in their last 10 games — and half of those were without Durant, who was injured. Credit this year for the Thunder doing this year what last year’s Sonics did not — just turn the thing over to the kids. Let Green and Westbrook and Durant learn the hard way, but get burn and learn. As evidenced by recent games, they are learning.”
A very entertaining article on Kevin Durant in the Washington Post: “Banned from bowling because of a sprained right ankle, Kevin Durant was at the back of a bowling alley here in the Bricktown area of downtown one recent evening, doing what he usually does when he’s not playing basketball — playing the Xbox video game “NBA 2K9.” Durant clicked his video game controller and, with the regularity of the falling pins, confused his opponent, 13-year-old Alex Lemcke, by repeating the words, “Slap that.” It wasn’t trash talk so much as a way to motivate Durant through what turned out to be a more competitive than expected game. After nervously watching Lemcke’s computer-generated Kobe Bryant miss a potential game-tying three-pointer, the real life Durant celebrated his close win by quietly pumping his fist. Then he high-fived Lemcke. The slapping — Durant’s word for “beating” — was complete.” I must say the line, “Durant actually likes Oklahoma City…” is a little strange. Actually?
Thabo checked in at No. 5 in SportsCenter’s Top 10 and got some love from other outlets with his swat of Kobe. Roll the footage!
The LA Times Lakers Blog asks if Oklahomans get tired of Oklahoma! the song. That’s like asking if Americans get tired of the Star Spangled Banner. You don’t really notice singing and hearing it over and over because it’s just kind of part of you. Plus, it’s kind of catchy.
Nice article on Scott Brooks by his hometown paper: “Lee Brooks could tell a thousand stories about her son’s rise to the NBA, but there’s only time for a few before she has to get back to work at the family car wash. Scott Brooks, a former NBA player and the interim head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is the youngest of seven children born to a single mother. He was born in French Camp and raised in Lathrop. He inherited his mother’s grit and found a father figure in East Union High School basketball coach Bill Stricker.”
Steve Aschburner on who could take home the Eddie Gottlieb trophy (that’s what the Rookie of the Year trophy is called): “Unlike Durant, who dominated the in-season rookie votes, winning the honor in five out of six months, this year’s freshman class has shared in the praise. Lopez broke Rose’s stranglehold on the award by winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in January and February. Westbrook has gained enough admirers to generate a tomato-tomahto choice with Rose akin, for some, to the Chris Paul-Deron Williams debate that has raged since ’05. And Mayo, at one time considered Rose’s greatest challenge for the ROY prize, has seen his impressive first-half numbers (19.6 points on 45 percent shooting in his first 48 games) slide (15.6 points on 39.1 percent shooting since) to come back to the pack.”
I’m with Darnell all the way on this point: “Suddenly, after the past two games, there are some serious questions Thunder coach Scott Brooks needs to answer about why Earl Watson can’t even get on the court at this point. The Thunder led by as many as 32 against Minnesota on Sunday and Watson still ended up with the DNP. The Lakers were up by as many as 24 in this one and the same DNP sits adjacent his name tonight.” What’s the deal? It’s no longer, “We’re just giving Chucky some time” anymore. Something is going on. And I’d like to know, thank you.
Ball Don’t Lie power rankings: “17-21, over the last three months. Unremarkable? They were 3-29 over the first two months of the season. Scott, motherflippin’, Brooks.”
KD still No. 2 in ESPN’s Award Watch: “He has 19 30-point games this season. He has raised his scoring average by six points per game, and increased his shooting percentage from 43 percent as a freshman to 48.4 percent as a sophomore. Throw in the improved 3-point shooting (from 28.8 to 44 percent) and rebounding (from 4.4 to 6.6) and he may steal away the award that has been Harris’ to win or lose all season.”
Shoals says hold off on calling this year’s draft class stinky. And I totally, totally agree with him: “The point? Yes, sometimes the tournament yields a plethora of hyped-up underclassmen. Or, more substantially, lottery guys who have played their way into the top-five. Helin’s right that we’re not seeing a lot of potential lottery picks really distinguish themselves. But this is only the first part of the process. It may be the end of that college stuff, but just wait till the ping-pong balls settle, workouts begin, and the pre-draft rumor mill inexplicably starts to inflate and crush players within sniffing distance of the first round. And the best part is, there’s no telling how a draft will look three pro seasons later. So while the headline makes for good copy, the conclusion is, to say the least, premature.”
BDL, Behind the Box Score: “So the Lakers came out full of fire, Oklahoma City competed and actually outscored the Lakers in the second half, but this thing was long over by then. The Lakers made sure of it. Kobe Bryant didn’t shoot well to start the game, but Lamar Odom (fouled out in 24 minutes, but came through with 18 and six rebounds) was quite active to start things, and Pau Gasol was running the offense from the inside out. Yay, yay, yay. Love that offense. Eight points, three rebounds, and four assists in the first quarter for Gasol, as Los Angeles won the period 37-20.”
Sean Deveney’s power poll: “Nice to see SF D.J. White make it back in time to finish out the season with the Thunder. He had a growth removed from his jaw before the season, and hasn’t yet had the chance to play as a rookie. He did look good (17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds) in three games in the D-League.”
And David Thorpe’s rookie rankings should be here about noon.