Just how important is Nick Collison? Ian Levy of Hickory High looks: “The lineups featuring Collison accounted for roughly 40% of the minutes played for the Thunder last season. Those lineups posted a Defensive Rating 99.5, which is roughly 8 points better than the 107.6 they put up without Collison. The improvement wasn’t just at the defensive end either. The Thunder posted an Offensive Rating of 109.8 with Collison on the floor, a full point better than the 108.8 they posted without him.”
Kelly Dwyer: “What a win. Russell Westbrook was hampered by foul trouble in the first half, but came through with 20 points and seven assists alone in the final 24 minutes. Kevin Durant missed 11 of 17 shots with Andrei Kirilenko in his face, but he also nailed 16 of 16 from the line on his way toward 30 points. And Serge Ibaka? Serge Ibaka needs to start. Clowntime is over, Scott Brooks, because this guy (22 points on 13 shots, four blocks, 11 rebounds, and zero turnovers) changes the game for your team.
Darnell Mayberry: “So much has been so bad for the Oklahoma City Thunder that the last thing this team needed Monday night was a tough start. But the Thunder found itself in a nightmarish start when Utah point guard Deron Williams promptly splashed his first three 3-point attempts through the net, opening a nine-point lead less than three minutes into the game. And with the way OKC has underachieved all season defensively and sputtered at times offensively, there was little to suggest the Thunder could dig itself out of a hole in one of the NBA’s toughest buildings. After securing a hard-fought 115-108 victory over the Jazz, however, the Thunder showed there is at least one characteristic from last year’s lovable 50-win team that has indeed spilled over into this season of inconsistency. Pride.”
Mayberry’s postgame thoughts: “Serge Ibaka was a force tonight. He started in place of Jeff Green, who aggravated his sprained left ankle Sunday against San Antonio, and again made the most of his opportunity. If Ibaka’s jumper starts to fall like it was against the Jazz, and the Thunder begins to play any kind of defense, I don’t know how a team hangs with these guys. And what made Ibaka’s night so impressive is that he hit shots at critical moments, when Utah was making a run or the momentum was in danger of swinging heavily back to the Jazz. Ibaka also hit the glass hard, with a game-high 11 rebounds to go with four blocks.”
If you missed it yesterday, Marc Stein dropped OKC to 14: “Not ready to accept that the burden of h-u-g-e expectations in OKC after carrying Team USA is messing with Durant’s shot. Too soon. Admitting concern about OKC’s unrecognizable D, by contrast, is totally justified.”
Jerry Sloan on Russell Westbrook: “Anytime they give [Westbrook] help, and he doesn’t need much help, he has the ability to get to the basket, and he shot pretty well from the top of the key,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “He’s a terrific player, a dynamic player and he’s so lively. He’s tough to handle and so is Durant. I thought our guys worked very hard to guard him and he goes to the free-throw line 16 times and doesn’t miss — that makes a difference.”
Some thoughts from OKC Thunderdome: “The Thunder did get very fortuitous calls in the 4th quarter that will have Jazz incensed on Tuesday morning. The first was when Durant, covered by CJ Miles, came out to the top of the key on offense to catch a pass and then pivoted back toward the lane. He quite blatantly dropped his shoulder into Miles, sending Miles rocketing backward like he had been shot by a canon ball. Amazingly, the refs called the foul on Miles, ostensibly because he had not given Durant room to receive the pass.”
I’ve got to mention this article from NewsOK. The writer is looking into whether or not to consider “Thunder” plural or singular. And he mentions how the papers seem to favor singular while blogs go plural. And one of the blogs he cites is “An Oklahoma City Thunder blog.” I assume that’s this one, since that’s the tag at the top. He also uses “Real Basketball Talk” which I assume is supposed to be Pro Basketball Talk. Overall, I’d say that’s a fail.