Henry Abbott on crunchtime scorers: “Confusing the defense, meanwhile, has lovely long-term effects. The next time the Bulls see crunch time, the opposing coach has to think long and hard about sending two defenders at Rose. That helps the Bulls, too — he kills people in single coverage. By being a team willing to move the ball with the game on the line, by making the right basketball play, they get to attack the defense wherever it’s weakest. That doesn’t mean Rose is a better crunch time scorer than Bryant, whatever that means, but it does mean his team has a powerful option the Lakers do not.”
Chris Palmer of ESPN the Mag says Russell Westbrook has been the league most disappointing player so far: “Russell Westbrook just hasn’t clicked. He’s not meshing particularly well with Kevin Durant while leading the league in turnovers (4.8 per game), and Westbrook’s assists have dropped to a career-low 4.8. He’s just been out of sorts so far. But despite his funk, the Thunder have managed to put up a 5-2 record out of the gate.”
Palmer also asks if KD can break Michael Jordan’s scoring titles record: “Indeed, Durant needs a hefty eight scoring titles to match Jordan (nine for the record), but with a two-title head start and advantages from the free throw and 3-point lines, it isn’t that far-fetched to think that Durant could one day own more scoring titles than anyone else in history. In fact, I’d bet on it.”
Kurt Helin of PBT on if KD and Russ need to be friends: “But if Durant and Westbrook are not best friends… so what? It doesn’t matter on the court. As evidence, I present the three rings Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won together. Teammates on good teams yell at each other and even fight all the time. Michael Jordan yelled at everyone and we lauded it for him because he was tough and pushing his teammates. Kevin Garnett yelled (or makes that yells). Larry Bird yelled. Magic Johnson yelled. Those dominant Celtics teams in the ‘60s were no love in. So long as the Westbrook/Durant relationship isn’t toxic to the rest of the team — and there is far from any evidence of that, they do seem to get along — then it doesn’t matter. Heck, a little tension seems to come with winning.”
Kevin Durant: “I love Russ and he loves me back.”
Five Thunder players on the All-Star ballot: KD, Westbrook, Harden (as a forward?), Ibaka and Perk.
Trey Hunter of Hoops Addict on OKC’s halfcourt issues: “Oklahoma City is fifth in the Western Conference in scoring and second in shooting percentage. However, they are 27th in the NBA in turnovers averaging 16.6 per game and tied for 22nd in the league with only 19 assists per game. In comparison, the Miami Heat is first in the league in assists per game with 24 and 26th with 16.5 turnovers per game. Although LeBron James and the gang turn it over quite a bit, they make up for it by spreading the ball around and making it tough for teams to lock them down in their half court sets. Something the Thunder has yet to figure out early in the season.”
Darnell Mayberry on Ray Felton’s comments: “Westbrook’s biggest problem appears to be not knowing when to turn it off. He hasn’t realized, it seems, that the fire inside him doesn’t always have to be a raging blaze. That’s when he puts the Thunder in a bad spot. Last year, we called it hero mode. But that was more about offense. Now, Westbrook is mixing in extreme aggressiveness on defense, defined mostly by gambling in the backcourt, as a means to force the issue and make something happen. He’s trying to be spectacular on every play instead of just being solid and trusting the system. It’s a part of what’s led to his surprisingly slow start.”
Mark your calendars: We’ll be doing an away game watch party at Brix in Bricktown on Jan. 16 for the Celtics game. Specials on drinks and stuff plus we’ll have some other things to give away. More info soon.