NBA.com’s MVP watch: “Durant scored scored 21 points in just 26 minutes against Indiana, but a sprained left ankle had him listed as doubtful to face the Hawks at Atlanta Friday. OKC isn’t doomed when he’s out (3-1 when Durant doesn’t start), but the Thunder is better when he’s on (18-5 when Durant scores 30).”
Darnell Mayberry’s post-game: “Durant grew a bit defensive when asked about the last-second plays. When asked if coming off a curl wouldn’t work better than what we typically see, Durant responded “I wish you guys knew more about the game of basketball.” It was only the second time I’ve seen Durant get chippy with reporters. The other time was in L.A. during last year’s playoffs. And the amazing thing this time was KD delivered his line tonight with a wide smile, looking as friendly as ever as he dressed down a reporter.”
Berry Tramel wants some last play variety: “Not to be picky, Scotty Brooks — the Thunder is not that far removed from a 23-win season — but any chance we can see a little variety in the final possession of close games? A Russell Westbrook or James Harden drive? Durant curling off a screen? A pick’n pop with Serge Ibaka? Heck, Thabo Sefolosha from the corner. Anything but another Durant drive on the wing, usually against a ferocious defender who forces Durant wide and no closer to the basket.”
There a really cool tool that finds six degrees of separation for NBA players. Naturally, I did KD and Greg Oden.
How does the Thunder fare against the elite? Not great.
NBA.com’s power rankings: “Other than the Spurs, no team is locked into its playoff spot (fourth) as much as the Thunder, who are six wins behind the Mavs and Lakers, and five losses ahead of the Nuggets and Blazers. They’re still waiting on Kendrick Perkins, but even without him, they’ve shown some improvement defensively since the break.”
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com on Sam Presti: “The big-picture perspective of the Thunder trading for and then signing Kendrick Perkins — who may be the defensive center OKC has long sought — to an extension is that GM Sam Presti has become one of five best acquisitions of any role in the last four years. Certainly he’s among the top two for non-players, challenged only by Knicks personnel boss Donnie Walsh. It’s a particularly amazing consideration since Presti, unlike others who were more like obvious additions, was a risky hire by the SuperSonics in 2007. He was 30 and had never run a front office. Yet the ensuing string of successful decisions, with the Perkins deal impacting the entire league if it goes as OKC plans, while maintaining a streamlined payroll makes Seattle’s call four years ago seem like a no-brainer.”
David Aldridge of NBA.com: “The first thing you must know is that Sam Presti really, really doesn’t want you to write this story. He would really appreciate it if you could keep the Oklahoma City Thunder, and him, off the front page. Which goes to show you that Presti is still made of the same stuff as the boys down in San Antonio, where he cut his NBA teeth before becoming general manager of the Sonics. But you have to put the Thunder front and center, as they are going to save the NBA and all.”