How is Cole Aldrich doing in Tulsa? He’s played two games and is averaging 21 minutes a night, with nine points, six rebounds and one block per game. But he also has 11 fouls total in the two games. Pretty underwhelming stuff thus far, but this is his first look at extended playing time. Patience.
Russell Westbrook is approaching All-Star territory says Darnell Mayberry: “Russell Westbrook recently was asked by the NBA if he would like to compete in this year’s slam dunk contest at All-Star Weekend. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s point guard told the league thanks but no thanks. But Westbrook said he could change his mind and participate in his first-ever dunk contest. “One of these years I’m going to be in it,” Westbrook said. “I just don’t know if it’s going to be this year.” It might as well be.
Westbrook on the dunk contest: “I don’t really have trick dunks and all that,” Westbrook said. “I just like games. The dunk contest is totally different from what it used to be. You got to do a lot of different stuff to get points. You got to flip and bring out a lot of different (stunts) to get some points … “I was willing to do it then. One of these years I’m going to be in it. I just don’t know if it’s going to be this year. But I will be.”
From the Houston Chronicle: “He’s too tall,” Battier said. “I can’t block his shot. The way this season has gone, I was expecting it to go in. When I saw it bounce off, I said, ‘Thank you, Lord. It’s about time one goes our way.’”
The Dream Shake: “So, not only did Battier contribute more than Durant overall, he also shut the scoring champ down, and please, do not be so foolish as to say it didn’t happen that way. I was there. I saw it. Durant didn’t get very many looks, and basically checked out of the game. He played bad D and Battier took advantage of it, finally hitting his open threes, and then driving successfully when his defender played too tight to guard the corner 3. Between taking about 12 points away, and contributing 18, Battier was key to a close win tonight.”
Mayberry’s postgame observations: “My only problem with Westbrook’s emergence has been the backseat Durant has had to take. It’s becoming more and more evident that as Westbrook dominates the ball, Durant is reduced to second fiddle. Something has to change there. On several occasions tonight, Durant was the third, and sometimes fourth, option. When Westbrook is probing, Durant is standing around. It takes Durant completely out of the game. And by the time Durant finally gets a touch, he’s so eager to do something that he rushes up an ill-advised attempt. It’s killing his percentages and destroying his rhythm.”
Scott Howard-Cooper says to keep not freaking out: “There’s still no reason to panic in Oklahoma City, but the 10-5 start does come with a 5-1 fattening-up mark against the Eastern Conference while going just 5-4 within the West. The Thunder are 2-3 against the Spurs, Mavericks, Jazz and Trail Blazers, and they have yet to face the Lakers or Hornets. If the disparity does continue against the best of its own conference, the teams OKC will have to handle to advance in the playoffs, then panic will be on the table.”