Kelly Dwyer of BDL with an ode to Perk: “And Perk, to his everlasting credit, took a hit of his own. And for that, he deserves a poster. He deserves our plaudits. He deserves — hell, we deserve — a chance to make yet another stand in some seven game series held once the snow melts and football is a distant memory to all save for Chris frickin’ Berman. You know that he at once wants another shot at Griffin, while remaining satisfied with his effort and decision to slide over and attempt to defend that beast. That’s the best kind of attitude, and the best kind of player. A 7.1 Player Efficiency Rating be damned.”
Bill Simmons on Westbrook and Durant: “Still, that doesn’t answer the fundamental question: Can Oklahoma City ever achieve its potential without Westbrook accepting that he’s the Pippen to Durant’s Jordan? Avon and Stringer aren’t the right pop culture analogy anymore; there’s a better one. A New York reader named Yoni explains: “Is it just me or does this whole Durant-Westbrook situation remind you of the relationship between Russell Hammond (lead guitar) and Jeff Beebe (lead singer) in Almost Famous? Just as Jeff could never quite understand how Russell takes the band to a new level with his guitar, Westbrook doesn’t quite understand that KD is a franchise player in a way that he can’t ever be. And if OKC makes T-shirts, Durant will always be front and center, and Westbrook will always be in the background as one of the ‘out of focus guys.’”
Nate Robinson on Westbrook: “Everybody says he’s hot-headed and this and that, but what they don’t understand about Westbrook is he works extremely hard. Everybody on that team works hard. I’ve been in those shoes where people say bad things about you. I’ve been that type of guy. His game does the talking, regardless of what they say about him. He’s a hell of a player. He plays hard every second of the game. He’s young. He plays with fire. You need that. It brings out the best in you when you play the game like it’s your last. As hard as he goes, he’s going to turn the ball over just because of the style he plays. He plays to win. He’s a scoring point guard … which is good in different systems. Derrick Rose is a scoring point guard.”
Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas: “But these Mavs, like those Pistons, are a ridiculously deep, veteran-loaded, one-superstar squad that might just be primarily responsible for the delaying of a dynasty. Yes, Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavs could be to Kevin Durant’s Thunder what Isiah Thomas’ Pistons were to Michael Jordan’s Bulls. If you are Durant’s age and were in diapers during the Bad Boys’ heyday, perhaps you need a quick history lesson. It took Jordan six seasons to win his first ring, as his Bulls were eliminated in the playoffs the previous three seasons by the Pistons, the last two coming in the Eastern Conference finals. The loyal fans in Loud City might think that comparing this budding rivalry to the 1987-90 Detroit-Chicago scene is premature, but there’s no doubt the Mavs believe they have some major mental mojo over their neighbors from north of the Red River.”
Britt Robson of SI.com’s power rankings: “The fans and pundits who defend 23-year-old point guard Russell Westbrook correctly note that his virtues far outweigh his vices, that he is still very young and that while his style is somewhat unorthodox for the position he plays, the team is having great success with him. As both an admirer and critic of Westbrook’s, my response is, How can Westbrook get himself and his teammates to the next level without some fundamental changes? Or, what type of players best complement Westbrook’s style? Would Westbrook more readily feed the post if there was a scorer down there, or would he become impatient with the slower pace of play? As a career 27.1 percent three-point shooter, will he reduce his attempts and hone his accuracy in the offseason or maintain the status quo of chucking it up a couple of times per game? An obviously spectacular penetrator, is he able to broaden his drive-and-kick game as opponents inevitably play the shot and not the pass? The Thunder have a real shot to win it all this season. But can Oklahoma City go all the way if Westbrook continues to have the lowest assist-to-turnover ratio of his career and he and Kevin Durant have games like Monday’s loss to the Clippers in which they account for 77 percent of the team’s points?”
Tom Ziller of SB Nation ranks KD third in his MVP rankings: “What a season from Durant, who is an impossibly efficient scorer and would be considered the league’s most deadly if not for LeBron. There remain concerns about the Thunder’s late-game offense primarily because KD has trouble getting open against physical defenders, but thanks to Durant’s scorer prowess and improving rebounding, Oklahoma City should be in a position to win most of its games.”
Remember, watch party tonight at Brix. Specials on drinks and food, so be sure to tell your waitress that you’re there as part of the Thunder watch party.