Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com: “Dallas can’t run with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dallas can’t jump with the Thunder, either. Oklahoma City is quicker, stronger, younger. Physically, across the board, Oklahoma City is superior. But Dallas is the better basketball team, because this ain’t a track meet. Nor is it the NBA Draft Combine. Nobody is using a stopwatch on Jason Kidd’s speed or a yardstick on Dirk Nowitzki’s vertical, and nobody will ever, ever put Shawn Marion’s church-league “jumper” on an instructional video. But Dallas is beating the Thunder — led by elite athletes like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and even Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha — because this game isn’t played in a catalog. It’s played on the court, and the Mavericks are better because they’re smarter.”
A lovely blog post from an Oklahoman on the bombing and OKC: “The seed of hope that was planted on the day the bomb went off is now coming into full bloom some sixteen years later, and we are the lucky ones that get to see it. Out of the tragedy that made a city fall, rises a city that now stands together. We have the scar, and we wear the scar for the world to see, but we never miss an opportunity to share the story and to share the healing. The Thunder are a manifestation of the heart of the city, proved by what transpired in the minutes after the blast.”
A Thunder “vet” said that Russell Westbrook thinks he’s better than KD. I had some thoughts about it.
Berry Tramel on KD’s tense mood from Sunday: “Durant occasionally has games like that. And the next time you see him, be it shootaround or ballgame or big screen, he’s smiling and congenial. Resolved and determined, but still full of gee-whiz charm. Same old KD. Not Sunday at Thunder headquarters. Durant was somber. Gloomy. Angry, almost. Check that. Angry, definitely. Mad at the media? Mad at himself? Mad at DeShawn Stevenson’s defense, which is trying to go all Shane Battier and Tony Allen on the NBA scoring champion? Head cold? Girl problems? Cable out at the new house in Gaillardia? Whatever it is, Durant offered no clues. “We just don’t want to lose,” Durant said. “Just ready to play, man.”
The NBA rescinded another Tyson Chandler technical, this one being the elbow on James Harden.
Kevin Pelton on Westbrook’s importance: “The decision Brooks made to leave Maynor and his other reserves in the game made sense because Maynor was playing well and the unit had established momentum that paid off down the stretch. Don’t confuse that with the Thunder’s being better off without Westbrook in general. When he gets the chance to play with Collison, Durant and Harden, Oklahoma City is truly an elite team.”
NPR’s “Only a Game” program in Boston did a story about Seattle and OKC and I got asked a few questions about it.
Zach Lowe of SI on Sam Presti: “This is not to deify Presti. He did get lucky when the Trail Blazers passed on Durant in the 2007 draft, a huge “what if?” move that gave the executive a centerpiece around which to build everything else. That makes your job so much easier. Teams search forever for a franchise-altering star — a no-brainer top 5 or 10 guy who makes others better — and most never get one. Presti could be an assistant GM somewhere else right now had Portland taken Durant instead of Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick.”