Berry Tramel: “Thabo needs to play. He needs to play as many minutes as possible. If you need more offense, put in Martin and take out one of the bigs. The Thunder got butchered in Miami last year because Scotty Brooks forgot about Thabo. Thabo has to play around 30 minutes a night. He’s too good on defense, and he’s not in any way an offensive liability. I agree, go ahead and shoot more, Thabo. But he needs to play more, not less.”
Ben Watanabe of NESN.com on KD’s expanding game: “Is this a minor thing, considering Durant has 74 games left in which to get his attempts back up to a workable average? Of course it is, but this is a sign that Durant has entered the upper stratum of NBA stars. James reached that stature long ago, which is why everybody spent the last three or four years fixating on whether he possessed the intangibles to win a championship. Like James, Durant has so few flaws in his game that even his slightest defect could be something opponents hone in on when they game-plan against the Thunder. Whether Durant’s inability to get the free throw line continues or if he magically transforms into Wilt Chamberlain in getting to the stripe may not have much impact on his scoring average or the Thunder’s regular-season record. If the Thunder are to continue their ascension and break through with a title this season, though, they will need Durant getting easy points at the foul line, not just on difficult fade-away jump shots with a hand in his face.”
CBSSports.com’s power rankings have OKC fifth: “The ‘Russell Westbrook sucks without James Harden‘ meme had a good run … of about a week.”
Dan Devine of BDL on Russell Westbrook’s self-assist: “[T]his fourth-quarter moment was perhaps the quintessential Westbrook play — a brain-dead, basketball-doctrine-be-damned moment redeemed by instinct and athleticism at a pivotal spot in the game; from heart attack to hilarity to high-fiving, all in an instant. Like Kobe Bryant, he’s probably bummed that he didn’t get an assist off the “intentional pass to oneself,” but the bucket and the late-fourth lead probably helped a bit.”
The best of #NBAPalate. My personal favorite was Cory Spaghetti.
Some have been floating the nickname “Wolverine” for Russell Westbrook. It definitely fits. So a couple folks made photoshops on Twitter. Here’s one from @ADesigner120 and another from @BehindtheBuzzer and another from @joeluber24.
Tom Haberstroh in a ESPN.com 5-on-5 says OKC misses Harden: “And not just in the Thunder’s official store, where they no longer have $10 fake beards on the shelf. What a gut-punch to merchandise revenues. Though Kevin Martin has been downright sensational off the bench, he won’t be able to rescue Russell Westbrook on a bad night and take over playmaking duties like Harden. Then again, that could be Kevin Durant’s role soon enough.”
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com on tonight’s opponent: “Right now, the Grizzlies are flourishing even if they don’t have definitive answers to those questions. Their offense sits at No. 9 thanks to a reconstituted bench that’s been solid, a jackrabbit start from Conley and a big point-center who has turned touch and subtlety into opportunities and production. Is all this stuff sustainable over an 82-game slog? That’s unknowable right now, but a win over Oklahoma City might give us another piece of evidence that the Grizzlies clean up nicely. We might even discover that the Memphis Grizzlies — the Memphis Grizzlies — have found finesse.”