Darnell Mayberry on OKC’s rebounding: “At worst, the latest cause for concern for the Oklahoma City Thunder evokes memories of Pau Gasol, his purple No. 16 Lakers jersey swooping in to steal the ball and the series-clinching victory in Game 6 of last season’s playoffs. At best, the trend can be written off as only somewhat troubling since the Thunder is 4-1 over its past five games and 17-8 overall. Either way you slice it, Oklahoma City’s defensive rebounding issues can’t go ignored. Opposing teams are toying with the Thunder on the offensive glass.”
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld: “Russell Westbrook won’t come out and say it, but everyone in Oklahoma City knows why he pushes himself. They know why he’s the last player to leave the court after practices. They know why some of his best games have come in wins against Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo. “He wants to be the best point guard in the league,” Kevin Durant explains.”
KD was named the 2010 USA Male Basketball Athlete of the Year for leading the U.S. to gold in Turkey.
Andrew Unterberger is going to every arena in the NBA and his latest visit was to OKC: “It being a Sunday afternoon against a bad team, I was dreading the cavalcade of “Actually, the turnout is usually much better than this, too bad you weren’t here last week when…” type excuses from the locals to explain the stadium’s poor attendance. But when I looked up from press row at tip-off, I saw that the stands were actually pretty well-filled — some empty seats to be had, sure, but good percentages on both levels, and definitely no barren sections. “I think other teams are pretty shocked [by the turnout] — they’d like to have these fans,” a fan named Anita told me when I asked about the city’s embracing of the team. “I look at games at other arenas and see a lot of empty seats. These don’t have that many empty seats.”
ESPN’s Awards: “If you went by just the numbers, Westbrook belongs near the top. He’s second in PER, and in the top 10 in the league in points, assists, steals and double-doubles.”
CBS Sports power rankings: “Why a Claimer: Like the Hawks in the East, this up-and-comer stays consistent and hopes others fall back; fortunately for them, a few (Nuggets, Blazers, Suns) have.”
SI.com’s: “The Thunder are 10-3 when Serge Ibaka starts and 9-1 when he plays more than 30 minutes. That’s because the 21-year-old forward-center, who doesn’t need the ball to be effective, is a near-perfect complement on a team dominated by two offensive forces in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He displayed his rim-protecting acumen against the Timberwolves last week when he blocked six shots in the fourth quarter (eight overall) and was the primary reason why Minnesota’s top scorers, forwards Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, combined to shoot 3-of-18 for the period. He is among the NBA’s top five in shooting and blocks ane leads the Thunder in rebounding. With neither Cole Aldrich nor Byron Mullens ready for the NBA, and first Nick Collison and now Nenad Krstic hobbled by injuries, Ibaka has been a savior in the paint.”
SLC Dunk is worried about the NW Division race: “Cliches exist. Like this one: “they play the games on the hardcourt, not on paper.” The Jazz have been known to underwhelm against teams they should beat, not to mention the slow starts and rebounding issues. And Oklahoma City, who is and will continue to be our biggest competition for the NorthWest Division, has some favorable matchups as well. Only 29 games between now and the AS Break with 15 of those at home for the up and coming champions of the NBA. But the Thunder do have to play away games against the Knicks, Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, Nuggets, and Jazz and home games against the Mavs, Nuggets, Hawks, Magic and Heat in that time frame. So the pressure is really on the Jazz to create some separation from the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the next 60 days.”