You have just a few minutes to get into the DT bracket group. Free stuff could be at stake. And because everyone is doing it, here’s my Final Four picks if you want to piggyback off them: John Tesh, North Carolina, the L.A. D-Fenders and Kansas. The Jayhawks are just that good this year.
A non-Thunder fan also saw a poorly officiated game: “Thunder fans are upset about the officiating, so am I. Most likely, we’re all upset by the free throw disparity between the two teams. The Bobcats had a free throw rate (FT Rate) of 41%. So basically, Charlotte took 2/5 as many free throws as field goals, a high rate; meanwhile, Oklahoma City struggled to get to the line (a FT Rate of only 21%). That, and a non-call when Jeff Green was “clubbed upside the head,” according to Daily Thunder is probably why Thunder fans are so mad.”
The NFL, MMA and then the NBA – seems like a natural progression for me: “G Jose Calderon has returned as the team’s starting point guard, replacing Jarrett Jack, as the Raptors try to find a way to deal with lax transition defense, a glut of team turnovers and mounting losses. And Calderon, who started against Mike Bibby and the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, gets Michael Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday in Toronto’s next outing.” We just need Brian and we’ll have the Westbrook trio together at last. (h/t to Elegy 44)
Dime lists the NBA’s top 10 fastest players and even has a few honorable mention. And there’s no mention of Russell Westbrook. I can promise you, end to end with the ball in his hand, Westbrook’s darn to as fast as anybody. The other night, I counted him going from the paint to the other rim in just over three seconds.
Fanhouse has some power rankings and has OKC sixth: “You can’t call them a fluke at this point. Coming off an impressive win over the Jazz Sunday, the Thunder sit just three games back of Denver in the division. The dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook lead this uber-talented starting five into the playoffs, a unit that averages out to be a mere 23 years old.”
James Harden has a Q&A with SLAM: “SLAM: You might have the best beard in the League. What are the three keys to keeping a fresh beard? JH: Get up and brush it like you would do your hair. You got to make sure it’s clean cut and—[bends over in laughter as Thabo Sefolosha shakes his head at him nearby]. You have to make sure it’s looking right at all times. You don’t want to go out there and have your beard looking all nasty.”
Darnell Mayberry coming strong: “And don’t give me the excuse that the Bobcats are 25-8 at home. The Thunder has won at San Antonio (24-10), at Utah (26-8), at Phoenix (26-9), at Atlanta (26-7), at New Orleans (21-12), at Portland (22-13) and at Miami (20-15). This was just a bad loss. Plain and simple. It would have been different had the game been nip and tuck throughout. But it’s inexcusable when you lead by as many as 19 points, against a team on the second night of a back-to-back, playing without its leading rebounder and second leading scorer.”
Thorpe’s Rookie Watch: “Ibaka is another guy on this list who showed his considerable upside in summer league. He’s now a steady rotation player in Oklahoma City, providing a strong shot-blocking presence inside and good decision-making skills on offense. He hasn’t blown up like some other rooks have, but he has continued to make progress from month to month. When a player is nowhere near his potential but plays well in his role, he earns considerable value in the league. That is exactly where Ibaka stands right now. His face-up game is going to be good, and he projects to be an excellent shot-blocker. How many guys in the league can do both well?”
Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook breaks down the Bobcats lob that helped them pull away.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com revisits some preseason predictions: “What wasn’t I thinking?: That the Thunder would be one of the five best defensive teams in the league. As terrific as Kevin Durant has been and as much as Russell Westbrook has improved, the Thunder’s team defense has been the biggest key to their success. There weren’t any signs of that as late as the preseason. There was clearly room for improvement, given the team’s youth. Also, one of their best defenders, Thabo Sefolosha, came over in a deadline deal last February. Still, they’ve made a huge leap on defense.”
I know some don’t care about OU news, but this is pretty big basketball news in this state because it could really cripple the Sooner basketball program. Tiny Gallon may have taken moolah: “Gallon — a freshman center for the Sooners – scored a $3,000 wire transfer last August, according to a document obtained by TMZ. The money was deposited in a bank account jointly held by Keith and his mom, Sylvia Wright. As for who gave Keith the dough — the document shows it’s Jeffrey Hausinger, a Merrill Lynch financial advisor who reps several professional athletes. It’s a violation of NCAA rules for any player or player’s relative to receive money that isn’t readily available to other players — for example, a student loan or scholarship. We’re told the rule clearly prohibits any agent, lawyer or financial advisor from trying to lure a player with money.”