Kevin Durant talking about his adjustment: “It’s tough to play against little guards,” Durant said. “Since I’m so tall, they get under me when I dribble. Coming out (in the second half), I wanted to do something else. My shot wasn’t going the first half … I got a few assists early on, and that led to some points for me as well. People think it’s easy (going against small guards), that I’m going to score a lot of points. But it’s tough. Those guys get after it. They have quick hands. That’s something I have to get used to.”
An interesting OTL piece on the decline of white basketball players. Oklahoma City has its quota with Nick Collison. If it brings up Byron Mullens, well, we’re stacked then.
Jenni Carlson on the Thunder unsung hero: “Jeff Green sauntered across the deserted Ford Center court, headed to a post-game dinner with a legend. George Gervin sauntered along beside him. The Hall of Famer is a mentor to the Thunder swingman. Because of an NBA program that pairs former stars to future ones, Gervin hooked up with Green and Kevin Durant. Note that conjunction: Durant and Green. With Durant getting so much national hype — deemed “The Next” by ESPN The Magazine last week, scheduled to appear on “Jim Rome Is Burning” soon — it’s sometimes easy to forget that Green is also a star in the making.”
An absolute must-read. Henry Abbott explores Tim Donaghy’s accusations: “It’s not hard to find examples when Donaghy was wrong. Bavetta has refereed plenty of blowouts. In January 2004, for instance, the Kings were seven-point favorites over the Suns, but won by 20. The next month, the Rockets were nine-point favorites over the Hawks, and won by 21. In January 2005, the Suns were favored by eight and won by 18. That same year, the Bulls won a Bavetta game by 40 when they were favored by nine, and the Pistons laid a 25-point beating on the Bobcats when they were favored to win by seven. A few months later, the Pistons, favored by seven, beat the Pacers by 25.”
OKC is up another spot in Stein’s power rankings: “As if Blazermaniacs weren’t suffering enough after Oden’s latest setback, this haunting tidbit circulated late Friday: Durant just became the second-youngest player in history to get to 4,000 points, behind LeBron.”
Sitting still on SI: “No doubt OKC is going to be a team to reckoned with down the road, but it keeps coming up short in big moments. The Thunder has dropped two games to the Lakers and one apiece to Orlando (who they did beat at home earlier this season) and Boston, the latter an 18-point pounding at the Ford Center last week. Kevin Durant put up 36 points against the stingy Celtics D — if only the rest of his teammates could catch up.”
Dime has OKC at 13: “Everybody knows Kevin Durant will get buckets, but how about the defense? On Monday they had the Warriors stuck in the 70s well into the fourth quarter.”
NBA.com: “The Thunder are in the midst of a stretch where they play only three games in 11 days. They struggled defensively in their two games this week, but earned a split by playing their best offensive game of the season (117 points on 92 possessions) against Philly.”
Interesting note about the Warriors from Darnell Mayberry: “Center Mikki Moore, on one possession, adamantly argued a personal foul call, what would have been his third. He never showed that he cared that when the ref changed the call it wound up being Stephen Curry’s fourth foul and made the more important player sit. Later, Moore looked truly ticked when Anthony Randolph snared a board away from him in the second half. And then there was guard Monta Ellis, who took 28 shots, had nine turnovers, two assists and the nerve to still callously clap his hands to demand the ball from his teammates — only one of which had more than nine field-goal attempts.”
BDL Behind the Box Score: “Kevin Durant’s presence aides in this misconception, but by and large I think people just figure that young teams with rotations they aren’t familiar with will just naturally be a run-and-gun offensive team. The Thunder are not. And, defensively, they’ll bust you. And if you’re pretty good offensively, they’ll focus on every “you” besides your best scorer. And that’s what happened on Monday.”
Steve Aschburner for NBA.com lists his surprises through the first six weeks: “Kevin Durant’s ascension: Durant has scored 30 points or more eight times and has finished with fewer than 20 in a game only three times, twisting the knife a little more each night into fans in Portland, whose team could have had the talented Oklahoma City forward in 2007.” Really? That’s a surprise?