Hollinger after last night’s game: “Forget about their youth, their inexperience, and the difficulty of the Western Conference. Forget all that, and just know this: The Thunder are going to the playoffs. Tuesday’s 89-77 win over the Blazers showed a good example why, as Oklahoma City demonstrated how its defense and newfound depth could carry it on a night when the starters couldn’t deliver.” Also, Hollinger’s playoff odds have OKC as the four seed. Don’t laugh. Right now, the Thunder’s just two and half out of the three seed.
Team USA will hold a teleconference at noon central time to announceme the members of the 2010-12 USA National Team. But there is already a release out and it has both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on the 27-man roster. Cool.
Vote for Kevin Durant in some All-Star thing. I don’t quite understand it, but KD is leading. I think some of that has to do with him being paired with Rihanna though.
Darnell Mayberry with a great point: “Then Durant took over. He buried one jumper, then another, then a 3 from the right wing. All of them came over Blazers wing Nicolas Batum, who is supposed to be a lock-down defender. So the next time you think Durant is not clutch because he hasn’t hit buzzer-beaters, go back and review how he hit big shot after big shot in this game. And the Golden State game three nights earlier. And the Pacers game in mid-January … Here’s a game that serves as a classic example of how stats never can tell the whole story. The one that jumps out most is Durant’s one assist. Had his teammates finished more often he would have been credited for six or seven. Durant did a fantastic job of playing the role of playmaker in the first half.” I swear he had more than one assist. He had to.
Interesting thing here: Two of the new Tulsa Shock’s best players aren’t coming with the team: “Coach and general manager Nolan Richardson says Nolan has indicated she intends to skip the upcoming season to rest instead of relocating with the team. Her agent says she’s not under contract and is “considering all alternatives.” Smith, a six-time All-Star, has already said she doesn’t plan to play in Tulsa and is listed as a free agent by the league. The season begins in May.”
Mike Baldwin wonders if OKC can win 50: “Having already posted 30 wins, if the Thunder takes advantage of a softer schedule the next five weeks they could climb to around 18 games over .500, with a month to play, needing only to play .500 ball during a 12-game, season-ending gauntlet to reach half a hundred. I’ll stick with my prediction from a few weeks ago — a 47-35 finish and No. 6 or 7 seed. But don’t rule out 50 wins. It will be difficult. But not impossible.”
KD up to three in the Award Watch MVP: “After the Kobe-less Lakers beat the Spurs, I thought about moving KD ahead of Kobe and watching my inbox get flooded from Lakers Nation. He’ll have to settle for No. 3.”
Shoals looks at the KD leaving thing: “It’s simple: Durant has absolutely no reason to leave. The team is boss. The front office lives in the future. He’ll get adequate pay regardless. And while this isn’t a knock on LeBron, Durant lives for basketball and basketball alone. The question has never been “won’t KD want to go somewhere bigger” but “will OKC be able to give Durant the situation he needs to stick around?” It’s almost Tim Duncan-esque. Which, given Sam Presti’s Spurs pedigree and Durant’s laser-like focus on the game, should come as no surprise. And yet it’s still startling that we spend half our lives prattling about any and all LBJ possibilities, when Durant’s future is a non-topic simply because he knows what he wants and has what he needs.”
Ben Golliver of Blazer’s Edge to make you happy: “So imagine my surprise when Durant saunters past Dwight Jaynes and me. We are, as is custom, watching his team warm up intently but without intruding. Out of the blue, Durant offers a “How y’all doin’ tonight?” as polite and genuine as can be. It goes without saying that it takes a lot to impress Dwight , who has been to more than 1,000 NBA games in person. I would venture to say that even Dwight was impressed by this unusual and unsolicited politeness from one of the league’s best. I certainly was. The determination, the personality, the likability, the effortless scoring, the developing leadership. He is the real freaking deal.”
Portland Roundball Society: “First, the Blazers lost to the hated Lakers at the Rose Garden for the first time in ten games, then they got straight smoked by Kevin Durant, the one they passed over as their guy, Greg Oden, again watched from the couch, a cane no doubt nearby. Take away even the naked photos and this still stings. People say they moved on. But they haven’t. Portland fans wouldn’t boo Durant if everything in the Rose Garden was fine. And when the Blazers brass say that, had they the chance to do it all again, they’d draft the same, well, that’s nothing but a political trick.”
Art Garcia on Kevin Ollie: “Ollie understands the business and the future in Oklahoma City. Westbrook looks to be on an All-Star path — he’s on the sophomore team for Friday’s Rookie Challenge — and Maynor isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Ollie could get traded later this month, latch on with another squad next season or simply hang ’em up. The basketball vagabond established a home base in Connecticut four years ago with his wife and two kids to give his family permanence. Though he could go into coaching, he also owns a business conferencing company and may pursue other interests outside the game. Whatever comes next, Ollie will be ready. He always is.”
Happy birthday to my most excellent mother-in-law. And also, while we’re on personal matters, congrats to my little brother who was named a National Merit Finalist yesterday. He’s the smart one. I didunt geht the brayns in the famulie.