- Can losses be moral victories?
- Russ as a heel (bad guy we love)
- All-Star reserves
- Was Serge Ibaka snubbed?
- A grown up Thunder team embracing conflict
- KD, grandma and a potty mouth
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Happy Saturday. Thank you for your support of Daily Thunder. Shine on.
It was more than a week ago, but KD’s career-high 52 was pretty special. And via Hip-Hop Nonstop, here’s a fun behind-the-scenes look at it.
Bonus cartoon after the jump: Keep Reading…
For a few minutes there, things weren’t pretty for Oklahoma City. The effort was poor, the focus was weak and the play mostly terrible. The Thunder trailed by as many as 14 in the first quarter and were basically a mess.
Then Kevin Durant got cleared for takeoff and everything changed.
After KD’s dunk, the Thunder finished the game on a 94-72 run.
Maybe the dunk served as a little wakeup call, as a catalyst to spark the team, but really it was more about Kevin Martin and the bench once again steadying the ship and then Russell Westbrook playing some kind of bounce back game. Martin knocked down a couple 3s, Westbrook hit a couple jumpers and just like that, the slow start was erased from memory. The Thunder’s explosiveness is explosive. Keep Reading…
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 112.8 (1st), Kings– 105.0 (13th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.5 (8th), Kings – 111.4 (30th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.7 (8th), Kingss – 91.7 (1th)
View from the enemy: Cowbell Kingdom
If the Thunder are going to get home with a successful 4-2 road trip record, they can’t lose again. But they really shouldn’t be losing again anyway, especially tonight against the Kings. We already know the Thunder are capable of not showing up — cough Wizards cough — but for the most part, they do. The Kings are bad, the Thunder are not and despite being a little road weary, OKC should have its business tonight. Keep Reading…
It’s the midway point of the season, which means we all have to determine arbitrary awards and crap at this time. I don’t know, but it’s what we do. Also, All-Star reserves were announced last night and Serge Ibaka evidently felt snubbed by not being selected tweeting, “#motivation.”
Was he snubbed? And who’s the midway MVP? And what about Russell Westbrook, was he snubbed too, by the system? Keep Reading…
Ben Golliver of SI.com gives OKC an A+ for their first half: “The quality of the Thunder’s play can’t be overstated. Name virtually any aspect of the game and they rank somewhere between good to excellent. Their offense is the league’s most efficient (by a healthy margin) despite trading Harden, one of the league’s best individual scorers, just before the start of the regular season. Their much-improved defense is holding opponents to just 43 percent shooting, the third-best mark in the league. They are among the league leaders in field-goal shooting, three-point shooting, free-throw shooting (No. 1 by a wide margin) and rebounding. Durant is making a strong MVP case, Serge Ibaka has taken his game to new levels on both ends and Kevin Martin has plugged in smoothly for Harden. About the only knocks on these guys: They turn the ball over a fair bit (hard to avoid with aggressive playmakers in Durant and Russell Westbrook), and they lost to the Heat on Christmas. They will be the most feared team in the West come playoff time, and rightfully so.”
Justin Verrier of ESPN.com on Westbrook: “But a funny thing has happened through 43 games: Durant is thriving. And Westbrook is thriving. And Oklahoma City is thriving. Durant is on another level this season, with career highs pretty much across the board; to see him and James do their things live, in the prime of their careers, is truly remarkable, almost to the point of astonishment. His only foil at this point is history. But Westbrook has also upped his game. He struggled from the field out of the gate, particularly in December when he shot 39 percent. A recent string of four straight games over 30 points, however, is a clear indicator of the offensive weapon he has become through five seasons, in which he has somehow never missed a game.” Keep Reading…
Enjoyed this from Chris Ryan of Grantland about KD: “Even on the road, he yawps loud enough to let everyone in the building know this is his mother-you-know-what’ing house. This idea that Kevin Durant is going to stop a basketball game to make sure a stray ladybug makes it across the court without getting stepped on? That’s over. It’s hard to imagine that, in a game featuring Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins, Blake Griffin, and Kendrick Perkins, that Kevin Durant would be the biggest loud-mouthing, irritating bad-ass in the building, but it’s true.”
SI.com’s midseason awards where KD gets MVP love, Ibaka DPOY love, Martin Sixth Man love, KD Most Improved love and Scott Brooks COY love. Rob Mahoney on KD and Most Improved: “Hear me out. Improvement in the NBA is often assumed to be a linear progression, but it’s really almost logarithmic. Once the production starts to pile up, it gets harder and harder for good players to become great, and great players to become legendary. But Durant has managed to climb that slope with an incredible ease, and is shockingly close to LeBron at the NBA’s summit. Harden’s departure has been a complete nonissue for Oklahoma City, in part because Durant has become so much more comfortable as a ball-handler. His court awareness has dramatically improved, and he’s begun to make the kinds of next-level passes reserved only for elite playmakers. His individual and team defense are both better than ever, and his chemistry with his teammates on that end has also improved. All of this on top of a famed 50-40-90 season and a 29.15 PER. Even if we expected Durant to be this good eventually, no one could have reasonably expected him to make these kinds of improvements in a single bound.” Keep Reading…
With 8:08 left in the fourth quarter, the Thunder led by eight on the road at Oracle. Kevin Durant’s hand was smoldering and it appeared he was transitioning fully into Closer KD.
Then this weird thing happened where he went 1-of-5 the final six minutes, had four turnovers and missed a critical free throw. Then I woke up, or at least I was hoping so.
The easy excuse here is that the Thunder ran out of gas. Second night of a back-to-back on the road, the Thunder didn’t defend and didn’t execute in crunchtime. And by “didn’t execute” I really mean Durant’s powerup didn’t last the full 48 minutes tonight. He’s Oklahoma City’s horse, the guy they’re going to run into the ground when things are tight. Most times, he carries them through. Tonight, he didn’t. The Warriors doubled and tried to flush him, but KD still got looks — he just missed.
But it’s not like he had a bunch of help either. A few more key stops, a few more defensive boards or a not completely awful night from Russell Westbrook would’ve helped. Keep Reading…