Shaun Powell of NBA.com making an MVP case for KD: “The mission for Durant is to make sure he takes the Thunder with him as he keeps soaring. January was shaky as the Thunder went 7-6, with two wins coming in overtime when the Thunder were pushed to the brink by Minnesota and the Wizards, and another win on Durant’s buzzer-beater. The losses came against Miami, San Antonio, the Lakers, Nuggets and Hornets, the kind of company you must beat in order to send a message in time for the postseason.”
I’ve noticed this same thing that Darnell Mayberry points out and it drives me crazy: “For the life of me, I can’t understand why James Harden jumps several times after his 3-point tries. The only thing I can think of is he’s not shooting with any confidence. It looks as though he’s willing the ball into the basket — and it never works. Somebody needs to pull him aside and tell him to take a shot with confidence. Jump once. Follow through. And trust your skills. Go back and watch the tape on this one. When Harden does trusts his stroke (watch his 3 w/ about six minutes left in the third), his shots go in. When he doesn’t (twice in the first half), they miss badly.”
I love this Blake Griffin dunk not for the actual slam, but because of Bill Simmons’ awesome reaction.
Jenni Carlson doing her thing about CP3’s flopping: “Now, he’s a royal pain. He’s a bad guy. He’s a black-cape-wearing, mustache-twisting, evil-cackling villain. Right before halftime Wednesday night, Paul drew a foul on Russell Westbrook. The point guards were going after a loose ball, and when they collided, Paul reacted like he’d been hit with a windmill punch. A fan behind the scorer’s table yelled, “And the Oscar goes to … ” Another answered, “Paul!” It was vintage CP3. It gave him an advantage, stole a couple points and miffed everyone in Thunder blue. He knows how to get under opponents’ skin. “He’s good,” Williams said. “That’s enough.” Enough to drive people crazy. Enough to brand him a punk. But Oklahoma City, you know the truth. Paul might be a pest and a pain, but he is no punk.”
From Elias: Kevin Durant made 14 of 19 field-goal attempts (including five three-pointers) and 10 of 11 free throws to accumulate 43 points as the Thunder beat the Hornets. Durant was the second NBA player this season to score as many as 43 points in a game in which he took fewer than 20 shots from the floor. Kevin Martin had only 18 field-goal attempts in his 45-point game on January 5. The only other player in SuperSonics/Thunder franchise history to score at least 43 points in a game in which he took fewer than 20 shots from the floor was Rashard Lewis on Jan. 11, 2006 (45 points and 18 FGA).
Hornets 24/7: “Anyways, considering the Hornets were without Okafor and lost Ariza halfway through the game, they were in that thing a lot longer than they should have been. The Thunder were raining shots from long range – typically the kinds of looks the Hornets wanted. They were not getting much of anything at the basket until Ibaka started ripping down offensive rebounds in the second half. Considering the Thunder started raining jumpers in that half, it hurt that when they did miss we had trouble ending the possession.”
All-Star reserves are announced tonight. Really hoping for Russ because he certainly deserves it.
Kelly Dwyer Behind the Box Score: “Absolutely no stopping Kevin Durant, in this game. The Hornets did their worst, forcing Durant away from the basket while getting up on the All-Star at the three-point line, but it didn’t matter. He’d just rise up, taking the shot New Orleans wanted him to take (that low-percentage, long two-pointer), and … swish. Forty-three points, on just 19 shot attempts, for Durant. Double-figure rebounds, five assists. Dominant stuff, against a Hornets defense that has forced team after team into record-low production at times this year.”‘
Art Garcia of NBA.com with a nice feature on Serge Ibaka: “Durant is Ibaka’s personal coach for the event. The two have begun preparing dunks and going over their gameplan after practices Brooks couldn’t help but question Ibaka’s choice of Durant. “We say he’s smart, but he’s not that smart. He picked the wrong guy to coach him,” Brooks quipped. “Kevin has one dunk — the one-handed tomahawk.”
Russell Westbrook or Joe Johnson, Dime asks: “Also, as good as Westbrook has been, he has high potential to eventually sink OKC with his horse-blinders style in clutch moments. Often he has it real bad with only looking for his own shot when Durant is either unavailable or not open to receive the ball. Westbrook puts his head down, makes his moves, and usually gets a pull-up jumper that is not yet wholly reliable.”