What are the Thunder going to do? Keep reading »
What are the Thunder going to do? Keep reading »
Russell Westbrook still remains without an official timetable as he and the team weigh surgery as an option to repair his broken right hand. Either way, it looks like he’ll be out at least 4 to 6 weeks, leaving the Thunder not only without their two cornerstone stars, but with only eight available bodies. There’s hope Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb might return soon, but regardless, the Thunder are in big, big trouble.
They’re looking at playing anywhere to their next 15 to 25 games without Westbrook and Durant, leaving them to rely on Serge Ibaka, Jackson and potentially the breakout of Perry Jones to carry them through. If they want to really have a chance at the top four in the West, they probably need to be around .500. But forget that: They just need to hang on for dear life and be within striking distance to be back in the playoff conversation by April. Keep Reading…
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “The other issue is that OKC as 15 players on guaranteed deals. They have no wiggle room to add a free agent without buying someone out or making a trade. How bad could this get? Even with the playoffs six months away, there’s a chance that OKC could dig itself into a hole so deep that it’s left competing with the Pelicans and Nuggets or some other team for the 8th spot in the West, just because the league is that competitive at this point. They can apply for the hardship but that’s only going to get them an extra roster spot. Westbrook was going to carry the load and establish his own star power with Durant out. Now, he could miss a significant chunk of time that Durant was set to be out. Things are about to get very desperate for OKC, and we’re about to find out just how good of a coach Scott Brooks is.”
J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “The West is too competitive for the Thunder to have any margin for error. They’re already 0-2. There’s an instant urgency of the type normally found in the NFL. The thought was Westbrook could keep them afloat while Durant took a month or so to recover from surgery for a broken bone in his right foot. It even figured to be as entertaining as Westbrook’s 38-point outburst in a loss in Portland on opening night. Just get in the playoffs and try to make a run. It worked for the San Francisco Giants, right? With no Westbrook? Well, let’s just hear it from Sebastian Telfair, the guy who figures to get the most additional court time in Westbrook’s absence.” Keep Reading…
First, the bad news: Russell Westbrook has a small fracture in his right hand and will be out an unknown amount of time. Now, to recap this game, because oddly enough, it deserves it.
You’ve all seen this kind of game before. Typically it happens in March, and it’s between a powerhouse program and a directional mid-major. A one-seed taking on a 16, a mismatch in every single way with an inevitable ending in place before tipoff.
But then the little guy is close at halftime. Then they’re close at the under 12 media timeout. Then they withstand a run and are within a possession at the under four break. And while you still know there’s really no chance at all the 16 is going to actually spring the upset, you want to believe. Maybe, MAYBE, this is the time it happens. Keep Reading…
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 99.1 (21st), Clippers – o0.0 (30th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 118.1 (25th), Clippers – 00.0 (30th)
The Clippers feel like the team ready to storm out of the gates this season, and will look to take care of ‘Thunder U’ tonight at the Staples Center. Brutal, I know. The Thunder, at full strength, was going to be challenged by this initial back-to-back, but this decimated roster is looking up at Everest tonight.
Oklahoma City hung in last night against Portland – even led after three quarters! If we’re being honest, it may be the most pleasant 17-point loss in franchise history. Scott Brooks deserves a lot credit for having this team ready with virtually no time to prepare with the available group. Lance Thomas, that’s right, Lance Thomas looked pretty nice last night and finished as the team’s 2nd leading scorer with 14 points. Keep Reading…
Sometimes after disappointing games I’ll take to the Internet to try to make myself feel better. I go watch old clips of people accepting Academy Awards, go watch Eastbound & Down blooper reals, look at sneakers I can’t afford, search for Lonesome Dove gifs, so on. Sometimes I’ll go on Twitter and bury myself in some notable person’s mentions just to see what people say to people that they don’t know but feel like they do. It’s always very revealing, the bravery. Lots of people ask to be followed.
I’m usually a bystander, but every now and again I’ll try to stir stuff up. Last night I went on a tweet binge directed at Olive Garden because, for some reason, they were tweeting out pictures of breadsticks a little after midnight central standard time. Something about not being able to spell breadsticks without “bae”, which makes sense, but also doesn’t at all. I retweet Olive Garden a lot. They are far and away the most interesting thing on Twitter that isn’t my friend Jason’s brother. His name is Mario and he really only ever retweets Dallas Cowboys memes and jokes about the Kardashians. I was told at one point when he was a teenager he asked to be called Zion. The word “fascinating” is overused, but Mario is fascinating.
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The Thunder are fascinating. Watching them play offense with only a single person who can create their own shot is something akin to watching a twelve year old try to drive a low rider convertible in the middle of a blizzard for the first time — all their friends are in the backseat asking to listen to the new Third Day album. These are Godly kids and it’s 2001. They’re crawling along down side streets and back roads and you just feel so close to utter disaster the whole time.
But there’s also a chance for thrills! Such thrills! Russell can leave his conscious on the floor of his spaceship — he should leave it there forever and only return to it when he’s forced to deal with interpersonal relationships with human beings he cares about. And maybe a crash happens, but man the explosion — the way the flames rolled off the body of the car and up into the sky — something pretty to look at.
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There’s no reason to panic here. This was the first game. There are 81 more. The Thunder could have played better offensively and Brooks will have to try to become someone he isn’t and find creative ways to get players the ball in good spots, but losing to a second round playoff team on the road in the first game of the year when your squad is a shell of its full strength self is not the end of the world. This is a team that can compete and keep its head above water before Kevin Durant walks on it and returns to the boat, savior. No one’s drowning here, except maybe Perk with that Mike Woodson Memorial Felt Goatee he was sporting last night. Such a thing will weigh a man down.
This was a depleted version of an already depleted team playing without their best and fourth best players, being tossed into the Rose Garden, holding their own for three quarters till they finally got too tired. Portland is too good to hang with in their spot with a roster like the Thunder trotted out last night. If Bassy is getting 15 minutes per then it’s like the team is actually walking through the fire. Same as if Lance Thomas is your second leading scorer. And what good is a post-Westbrookalyptic world if you’re just scorching earth that’s already been burnt.
Tyler Parker is a contributor to Daily Thunder and BallerBall. Follow him on Twitter natch.
Watch this from Jason Gallagher of Grantland. We’re one game into the Russell Westbrook Experience and I’m already completely satisfied.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation says Westbrook needs to play more: “Brooks knows his team and its needs better than anyone, but from the outside it looks like the coach outsmarted himself on this one. Yes, with so much pressure on Westbrook to be the entire offense for at least the next month, keeping Westbrook fresh is a priority. Yes, the championship is won in June, not October. Yes, the other Thunderers need to find ways to stay afloat for the time being. Yes, the Thunder have a tough back-to-back finisher in L.A. against the Clippers on Thursday. But that was a winnable game, and OKC needs early-season wins. The schedule is brutal, the West is brutal and chances are the fresh, rested and excellent Clippers will beat the Thunder regardless. A biscuit in hand is worth two in the oven. You’ve got to play the odds when the odds are otherwise stacked against you. Brooks didn’t. He did the calm, process-based thing and rested someone who is going to play a lot on Thursday and in every game for the foreseeable future.”
Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider asks who’s gonna shoot more: Kobe or Russ?: “In the other corner, we have Westbrook, who at this rate might not have any teammates to pass to by Thanksgiving. I did some digging into the NBA StatsCube database and found that, over the past three seasons, Westbrook has shot the ball 265 times in 356 minutes without Kevin Durant on the floor, which translates to a ludicrous rate of 26.8 shots per 36 minutes. To give you an idea how crazy high that is, Basketball-Reference tells us that no guard in NBA history has shot that frequently over a full season; only Wilt Chamberlain has topped it. With Durant, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb out of the picture, Westbrook might never get rid of the rock. Remember, this was the same guy who held on to the ball longer than any player in the postseason. Then again, we can always count on Kobe, right? Buckle up, folks.” Keep Reading…
The Thunder graduated past moral victories sometime back in 2009. The only thing that has ever mattered since that first season was the final score.
But Wednesday’s opening 106-89 loss in Portland feels like a moral victory to me.
Playing with nine total players, the Thunder led 77-75 heading to the fourth quarter behind a ferocious performance from Russell Westbrook. He was sitting on 36 points while completely obliterating the Blazers almost every possession. It was the perfect kind of Westbrook, the one we were all hoping to see in this Durantless period: Maniacal, relentless and anything but shy. Westbrook never balked a single possession overthinking the offense. He picked his spots beautifully, bouncing between getting teammates involved and completely dominated the ball. If someone was open, they got the ball. If they weren’t, he cranked Attack Mode to 11 and took off downhill. Keep Reading…