Darnell Mayberry on Westbrook shooting more than KD: “In other words, out of 12 games in which Westbrook has out-shot Durant, only three times has Westbrook finished with more than four more attempts than Durant. But why stop there? In fact, you can’t. It’s important to note that in those 12 games, Durant has attempted 18 more foul shots than Westbrook, 90 to 72. In Westbrook’s second largest shot attempt disparity over Durant, seven on Feb. 9 against Sacramento, KD attempted nine free throws to Westbrook’s three. Additionally, in the third largest margin, five against Dallas on Feb. 1, Durant struggled with an off night from the field but shot two more foul shots than Westbrook. Those are critical numbers in accounting for what the box scores show under FGA. There’s more. The Thunder is 9-3 in games that Westbrook attempts more shots than Durant. The losses came at Washington, at the Los Angeles Clippers and at Sacramento. The Thunder also is 1-0when Westbrook ties Durant in field goal attempts.”
SI.com’s midseason awards have KD second across the board for MVP and Harden topping almost everyone’s list for Sixth Man.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com on if the Clips can be the West’s best: “Was the Clippers’ blowout of Oklahoma City a telling sign or an aberration? Outside of Miami, the Thunder have the most lethal platoon of one-on-one offensive perimeter scorers in the league. At least on paper, this should pose enormous headaches for the Clippers, who lack for isolation defenders. It’s no surprise, then, that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each topped 30 — many of those buckets at the rim — but the Clippers neutralized the rest of the roster.”
John Rohde of the Oklahoman: “Podunk Oklahoma City, a place many never imagined would become home to a major pro franchise of any kind, came within hours of having the Celtics and Lakers simultaneously parked on the same air charter tarmac and staying in hotels located one block apart – the Celtics at the Sheraton; the Lakers at the Skirvin. Two meteors nearly collided in America’s Heartland. (By the way, the next sighting of Halley’s comet is due in mid-2061.) The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers will miss each other by roughly 2½ hours late Wednesday.”
Britt Robson of SI.com gives OKC an A- at the midseason: “As expected, the Thunder’s combination of youthful energy and roster continuity has given them an edge in a year when there is little time to rest or practice. Those who favor teams that pound the ball into the low post don’t trust the Thunder offense, which would rather slash than bludgeon. Incredibly, they have built the best record in the West despite a road-heavy schedule, a merely league-average defensive efficiency rating and an offense that turns the ball over nearly as often as it registers an assist. But stars and supporting cast all play their roles to the hilt, and the offense is second in efficiency despite the turnovers because Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are among the top 15 in free-throw attempts per game and collectively convert 83.5 percent of them. Durant also shoots 51.6 percent from the field, making him as reliable as any classic low-post behemoth. It remains to be seen if “Thunder ball” can thrive deep into the playoffs. But the jury is in on its success in the regular season.”
Zach Lowe of SI.com likes Harden and Collison’s two man game: “The pick-and-roll is the masterpiece. Each guy has a sense of where Collison should set the pick, when he should set it and which direction Harden should go to shed his defender and wrong-foot the opposing big man. One nice touch to watch: Collison’s work on hand-off plays. Harden is such a threat on this action that both Collison’s and Harden’s defender, seeing Collison hold the ball out like a quarterback, will jump up above Collison to cut off Harden on either side. When Collison sees that, he’ll sometimes just take the ball and dribble through the suddenly open lane, all the way to the rim for a dunk. Fun stuff.”