Kimberly the Thundergirl didn’t make it past the first rose ceremony last night. I assigned Mrs. DT to Bachelor duty last night to fill me in on the results. She said, “Kimberly didn’t make it past the first rose ceremony last night.”
Darnell Mayberry on Russell Westbrook: “The light came on for Russell Westbrook during the national anthem. At that moment, as the Thunder’s point guard stood alongside teammates during the bold, bass-filled rendition, he told himself Monday night’s game would be different. Westbrook wanted to revert to his strength, better yet to what he does best — applying pressure with aggressive attacks to the rim. “I wanted to start the game off that way,” Westbrook said. “In other games, I’ve been settling for jump shots, and there was no reason for me to do that.” Welcome back, Mr. Westbrook.”
The Thunder will hold another military night: “The Oklahoma City Thunder will salute servicemembers and their families from all branches of the military during a special Military Appreciation Night in the Ford Center on Monday, Jan. 11 against the New York Knicks. The Thunder is asking all of its Season Ticket Members to donate their seats to servicemembers for the Jan. 11 game. Season Ticket Members who would like to donate tickets are asked to contact their Thunder account manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Last year, Season Ticket Members donated more than 650 seats and Thunder officials are hoping that number increases for Monday’s game.”
Susan Bible of HoopsWorld grades the first 30 for OKC: “Biggest Disappointment: Jeff Green – Given the across-the-board improvement in Green’s numbers from his 2007-08 rookie year to 2008-09 with a change in positions and increased minutes, it’s reasonable to expect at least comparable numbers. So it’s been unexpected to see inconsistent (which doesn’t always signify big trouble given the variety of contributions he makes) and lower numbers thus far. Last year, Green averaged 16.5 ppg and 6.7 rebounds (a nice jump from 10.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg in 07-08) and added three-point shooting (.389%) to his repertoire. So far this year, Green has averaged 14.3 ppg and 6.0 rpg with three-pointers significantly decreased at .296%.”
Power rankings! Dime has OKC at 12: “His numbers aren’t going to get anybody’s attention, but Eric Maynor has already proven to be a great pickup for OKC. His ball-hawking defense and decision making will help them win some extra games.”
SI at 12: “Credit the Thunder’s offensive surge in December — the team scoring average went up nearly four points and its shooting percentage improved by almost two points over November — to more polished play by Russell Westbrook. At least coach Scott Brooks does. “Russell’s doing a great job,” Brooks said. “He’s improving every month, and it’s no surprise that he gets better. The game is not easy for him, but it’s slowing down so he’s making easier decisions.”
NBA.com at 12: “With Saturday’s OT loss in Milwaukee, the Thunder lost a chance to take sole possession of eighth, but their defense continues to be strong. Russell Westbrook has cut his turnovers down from 3.8 per game in October-November to 2.4 in December-January.”
Marc Stein at 12: “What excites you most, OKC? Durant’s seven straight 30-point games? That your nearly vet-less team inched past .500? Or how many guys it has stolen (Sefolosha, Krstic and Maynor) thanks to financial flexibility?”
John Hollinger’s playoff odds have the Thunder’s chances at a strong 68 percent.
As pointed out by John Schuhmann on Twitter, a lot of people wonder about the Thunder’s young core and if they’ll want to stay in OKC because of the draw to other cities’ bright lights. Well, the fact that they all tweeted about how bored they were in Chicago Sunday night with no game to play tells me that maybe the 405 is exactly the place for them.
Matt McHale of By the Horns: “As of last night’s win over the Bulls in the United Center, the Thunder are 19-15. What many people may not yet realize about this young squad is that they have become a top-notch defensive unit. Seriously. They rank 9th in Forced Turnovers Per Game (15.3), 8th in Defensive Efficiency (101.3 Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions), and 4th in Blocked Shots Per Game (6.0). Moreover, their opponents convert only 59 percent of their shots at the rim. That’s the 9th best mark in the league, which is especially impressive since their opponents attempt the fourth-most shots at the rim per game (29.4).”
BDL, behind the box score: “Oklahoma City turned it over 20 times, but it also got penetration whenever it needed it, and the open jumpers were falling. Russell Westbrook bullied his way to 29 points and six assists (he could have had a few more, actually, had some of his teammates’ shots fallen), and Kevin Durant added 25 on what appeared to be more than a few broken plays.”
Kevin Durant thinks Russ should get some All-Star consideration: “Good win in the chi! Can sumbody plz get @russwest44 some all star consideration? Thanksssssss.”
Some Jeff Green dislikers might enjoy this headline: “OKC’s Green awful in win over Bulls.”
Mark Travis of But The Game Is On writing about KD making The Leap: [T]ake a look at what Durant has averaged in his last eight contests: 33 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal with shooting percentages of 57% from the field, 44% from three and 84% from the line. That’s just one percent off on field goals and threes from I predicted and his free throw percentage is actually 2% worse than his season average of 86%, which is 4% less than what I predicted. If Durant can keep that up, which I think is very possible and maybe even probable, he would have a great shot at MVP (especially with the way the Thunder are playing behind him) and he could even make an argument to be one of the three best players in the game. Underrated part of these stats: Durant turned 21 years old this season. Unreal that he is doing this much work this early in his career.”
From Elias: “Kevin Durant ‘s streak of seven consecutive games with at least 30 points ended on Monday night when he was held to 25 in Oklahoma City’s win at Chicago. But Durant committed five turnovers in the game and that continued a different pattern. He has turned the ball over at least five times in five consecutive games, tying the longest streak by any NBA player over the past two seasons. Stephen Jackson had five or more turnovers in five straight games in February 2009.” Woo! Turnover streak!