Bonus cartoon because whoa.
Bonus cartoon because whoa.
Happy weekend. Thank you for your support of Daily Thunder. Sup, Lakers.
A lot of people asked for thoughts on a segment from First Take yesterday discussing Russell Westbrook, but I’d rather not because when I hear He Who Must Not Be Named talk about Westbrook, it makes me think about swimming out into the middle of the ocean at night with bloody steaks tied around my waist. So instead, enjoy this video of Westbrook from last season that continues to be one of my favorites.
Kevin Durant is making a strong MVP push. He’s gaining in the polls (leading in one crucial one), dominated LeBron in that debate the other night and is rising in popularity with the middle class.
And now, he’s just picked up a critical endorsement from the incumbent. Derrick Rose says KD is his MVP right now. Via ESPN Chicago:
“KD is playing great,” Rose said. “I’m hearing about what he’s doing, hearing about how he’s playing. The numbers speak for itself, how he’s working out this summer, and he’s playing great basketball.
“(Minnesota’s Kevin Love) K-Love been putting in work, too, but I think KD.”
Durant’s candidacy includes 27.7 points per game (second in the league), a career-high 50.1 percent from the field, a PER of 26.63 (third in the league), a career-high 3.5 assists per game, a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game, the best record in the West, a 1-0 record against LeBron and a 2-0 record against Kobe. Oh, and he’s the leader in virtually every clutch stat there is. Keep Reading…
Kurt Helin of PBT: “One game in March does not a potential playoff series determine, but the statements from this game are the statements we have seen these teams for a while now. The Lakers are good but they don’t seem to have all the pieces of a contender — consistent defense, weak transition defense, good bench depth at the two and four, and they still struggle to shoot consistently from the outside The Thunder are deeper, more athletic, more complete. And they have an energy that helps them overcome their flaws. And when all else fails they can just put their head down and run past the Lakers.”
Kelly Dwyer of BDL on Derek Fisher’s return to LA: “Even with the famously 37-year old Fisher playing on the Oklahoma City side, the Lakers looked old in defeat. They didn’t spread the floor well on offense, allowing the Thunder defense to load up as Kobe Bryant took 25 shots, and they had no answer defensively for the Thunder in transition. On court, it appears as if the Lakers are blowing their chance at ascending to the ranks of the NBA’s elite just because they refuse to commit to sound, smart basketball. This disappointment pales in comparison to the lack of commitment from the team’s ownership, though. And Thursday night was an unfortunate reminder.” Keep Reading…
When you’ve won 39 games out of 51 tries, there are a lot of impressive wins. But to date, put my stamp on Thursday’s 102-93 victory in Staples as the Thunder’s best win of the season.
Why? Because this was a playoff win. The Thunder had their worst shooting half of the season the first 24 minutes hitting 35.8 percent from the field while Kevin Durant started 0-of-8 and was just 5-16 at the break. Russell Westbrook was struggling. James Harden was 2-of-9. And yet, Oklahoma City was only down five heading to halftime partly because of an unlikely spark from Derek Fisher who put the Thunder back in striking distance.
In the postseason though, you’re playing elite teams and things aren’t going to go well. You aren’t always going to get calls, you aren’t always going to shoot well, you aren’t always going to play up to your standards. It’s about staying focused, digging in defensively and keying on the things you can control — rebounding, smart offense, tough defense and just playing hard nosed basketball. That’s what the Thunder did. And eventually, their stars — who are really just too good to not play well for long — finally will come around. That’s what happened in Los Angeles. Durant hit 10 of his final 14 shots, Westbrook completely took over scoring 36 points (with only one turnover and 27 in the second half) and OKC didn’t allow the Lakers much of anything easy. Keep Reading…
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.4 (1st), Lakers– 105.0 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.4 (12th), Lakers – 102.2 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.2 (5th), Lakers – 90.4 (21st)
View from the enemy: Forum Blue and Gold
This game’s receiving quite a bit of hype because it’s a big game between top Western teams, but also because it’s Derek Fisher’s return. The latter, most Thunder fans don’t really care about. There’s not a lot of connection to Fisher yet and while I’m sure it’ll carry some emotion in Staples, it’s more about business for Oklahoma City. Keep Reading…
KD was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night and talked backpacks, what he does in Oklahoma City and flag football. Good stuff, especially when KD says LeBron was bandwagoning on having a flag football game of his own.
Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland on OKC’s late game offense: “In most screens that the Thunder set, Kendrick Perkins is the screener. This allows teams to hedge off him and force the ball out of Harden’s and Westbrook’s hands. With Durant as the screener, teams are forced to pick their poison. Hedging out on Westbrook or Harden means Durant is going to be open popping out or rolling to the rim. Sticking with Durant means Westbrook or Harden can get to the rim with a head of steam. The defense is put in a tough situation either way, and it’s these types of simple sets that can give the Thunder the late-game advantage they’ve been lacking.”
Blazers announcer Mike Barrett wrote a ridiculous thing on Blazers.com: “Smooth and easy. That not only describes how OKC played on Tuesday, but describes the way nearly everything has gone for the Thunder since moving away from Seattle. The next time the team gets a bad break, or a key injury, it’ll be the first time. They have no idea what adversity is, and should, I suppose, actually get a lot of credit for that. Their design, and path to where they are hasn’t seen even one pothole. I’m quite certain their fans, who had the team dropped in their lap, think it’s this way everywhere. This isn’t bitterness, it’s envy. It’s a useless emotion, and probably a sign of weakness, but it does apply here. While the Blazers have found heartbreak, trouble, and bad news under every single overturned stone (some of their own doing, but a lot out of it out of their control), the Thunder have gracefully waltzed up to a championship window that’s now wide open- likely for the foreseeable future.” Keep Reading…