John Hollinger on the Thunder after yesterday’s win: “It’s one of many quantum leaps the Thunder have made in the past twelve months. It’s hard to remember, but a year ago at this time they were 8-33. They’ve nearly tripled their first-half win total, and after another hard-fought road win in a tough arena the Thunder — who are one of only seven teams with a winning road record at 11-9 — seem well on their way to making the playoffs a couple years ahead of schedule.”
Frank Hughes of SI looking at OKC’s needs: “Oklahoma City is in an altogether different mode, but would like to add a complement to center Nenad Krstic nonetheless. The Thunder aren’t trying to find a short-term fix for a run in the postseason, but are focusing more on their long-term goal of building a sustainable winner. Oklahoma City is one victory away from matching its win total for last season, and though making a decision for immediate success is tempting, Thunder general manager Sam Presti is going to place a premium on patience and prudence.”
Ball Don’t Lie, behind the box score: “Everyone seems to be talking about Jeff Green’s big dunk on Josh Smith, and for good reason. Smith overplayed for just a second, 40 feet from the hoop, and that was enough for Green to roll all the way to the rim for the massive one-hand throwdown. It capped an impressive road win for the Thunder, but really, this was Oklahoma City’s game from the outset.”
No Russell Westbrook in the dunk contest. Sad face.
Dime on yesterday’s game: “So long as they can get their superstars to re-up when the time comes — which, knowing Joe Johnson and Kevin Durant, is a likely scenario — would it be too crazy to predict a Hawks/Thunder NBA Finals matchup sometime this decade? Maybe in the next five years? The up-and-coming contenders gave a preview in one of yesterday’s early MLK holiday games.”
Hoopinion: “Sefolosha’s absence was notable during Atlanta’s seven-point offensive explosion between 5:48 and 4:41 of the fourth quarter. Two Joe Johnson’s jumpers sandwiched a Josh Smith and-1 to cut Oklahoma City’s lead from seven to two … Should Jeff Green or Russell Westbrook become an efficient scorer to complement Durant, Oklahoma City will be really, really good.”
A nice piece from the AJC comparing the Thunder and Hawks: ”Even in losing, the Hawks felt flattered. What they’ve done is what Oklahoma City is endeavoring to do. “A mirror of our team,” Mike Woodson said afterward, and when was the last time anyone else in the NBA regarded the local franchise as anything to be emulated? Not many teams can match talent with the Hawks. The Thunder did it Monday and left a three-point winner.”
This is what the All-Star jersey Kevin Durant will be wearing will look like.
The Thunder are 10th in NBA.com's power rankings: "The Thunder are temporarily in ninth place, but the numbers say that if they keep their quality of play at the level it's been, they're a playoff team. Speaking of numbers, Kevin Durant has remained red hot, hitting 14 of his 18 shots against Miami on Saturday."
I'm sure you saw it over the weekend, but Art Garcia of NBA.com hypthosizes that Chris Bosh fits in OKC... now: "Oklahoma City is loaded. With talent. With picks. With cash. When pondering future seasons of a Thunder program that starts but doesn’t end with Durant, visions surface of a serious Western Conference contender. But why can’t it be this season? Isn’t this franchise in position to make a major move in a conference that has more of its share of quality teams though none, outside of the defending champion Lakers, are overwhelming.”
Darnell Mayberry’s reaction: “The problem is, trading for Bosh now doesn’t guarantee he’ll be around in the future. Acquiring Bosh would be a big-time risk that could blow up in July if he decides to bolt for, say, the beaches of Miami or Broadway in New York. The Thunder will have then traded valuable assets for nothing. It’s that risk that partially explains why Phoenix was unable to move Amar’e Stoudemire last season after all the fuss and trade rumors regarding where he’d land.”