Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “So what’s so special about the Pacers, Heat, Thunder and Spurs? This isn’t earth-shattering news, but they’ve been successful lately. Head over to the standings and you’ll see that they hold four of the top five W-L records in the NBA, with the Blazers trying to stay in the championship-contention picture. But this is a key thing: We’ve already seen the Big Four contend — unlike the Blazers. The Heat are two-time defending champs. The Spurs came within seconds of grasping the Larry O’Brien Trophy last season. The Thunder reached the NBA Finals in 2012, and the Pacers came within a win of reaching the Finals last season. In our minds, seeing is believing.”
Eric Freeman of Ball Don’t Lie: “Yet these stats and reactions don’t communicate the full experience of watching Durant right now. While Durant has been a tremendous offensive player for some time now, he has recently elevated his game to a level we typically reserve for the greatest players of all time. He’s taking on a massive scoring load, doing so with efficiency, and reserving his best play for when the game is on the line. These are the memorable performances that build an MVP candidacy, and it will be fascinating to see if (and/or how) Durant tops them.” Keep Reading…
New Year’s Eve in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant had 36 points entering the fourth quarter on 12-21 shooting as a Westbrook-less Thunder led the Blazers by seven. The last 12 minutes, Durant scored one point on 0-5 shooting, and the Thunder let a double-digit lead slip, going 4-20 as a team. It was an ugly, deflating, disappointing loss.
Tonight, sitting on 32 on 12-19 after three tonight against Portland, Durant wasn’t going to let that happen again.
He scored 14 of his 46 in the final frame, and did it on 5-6 shooting, which included a flurry of 3s in the final three minutes. The fire was lit after KD was called for an iffy charge, to which he walked to the sideline, ripped off an expletive and slammed his hand on the scoretable. He was whistled for a technical foul with 3:15 left and the Thunder down 93-90.
After that, Durant scored 11 on 4-4 shooting. You won’t like KD when he’s not nice. Keep Reading…
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.9 (7th), Blazers – 114.2 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.4 (3rd), Blazers – 107.7 (20th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.2 (6th), Blazers – 95.3 (10th)
The Blazers come in to Oklahoma City on the second night of a back-to-back and playing their third game in four nights, with the previous tilts coming against the Spurs, Mavericks and Rockets, of which they won two of three. So, that’s to say, the Thunder should have an advantage here. Keep Reading…
Straight to the rankings, posthaste:
1a. Kevin Durant (last week: 1)
You know the stats. Durant has scored at least 30 in seven straight games, and has done it 24 times this season, 11 more than No. 2 (LeBron James). But here’s what I was curious about: What are KD’s other numbers in those 30-point games? In those 24 games, Durant’s averaging 5.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds. Basically right in line with his season averages. What I found interesting there is, even on the nights where scoring becomes the focus of Durant’s game, where he shoulders the load offensively, he still maintains the rest of his game. It’s not like on the 30-point nights he averages 2.5 assists and pads that up in his 20-point ones. Durant’s basically the same player throughout. Just some nights he hits a few more shots than others.
But you know what’s sick? That Durant casually goes for 30-5-9 last night and it felt completely nonplussed. When you see 32 from Paul George, you go “Whoa, Paul George had 32 tonight!” but when Durant does it, it’s completely routine. That’s the mark of true greatness. When it takes 54 points to get your attention. Keep Reading…
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com is taking KD for MVP: “I held out. I did. I took my time, because what LeBron James does on both ends of the floor is amazing. But there’s no getting around it, even with James shooting 60 percent from the floor for mos of the season. Durant has been downright unstoppable and there’s a point where the offensive domination simply exceeds everything else. James remains the one player I want on the floor for me in a fourth quarter of a playoff game (how amazing is that turnaround from a few years ago?) but Durant has had the objectively better season. His production isn’t just scoring it’s rebounds and assists and blocks and working in the post and leadership. Durant’s ability to draw fouls can be maddening for fans, but think of what it does to an opponent’s rotations. You’re literally forcing the opposing coach to change what he wants to do with his lineups.”
Marc Stein has OKC third in power rankings: “The committee (of one) tweeted this one out Saturday because it speaks to the rare scoring brilliance Kevin Durant possesses: This is the third straight season in which KD has recorded the NBA’s first 50-point game. The only other players to ever do so in three straight seasons are MJ and Wilt.” Keep Reading…
Today is the fifth birthday for Daily Thunder, officially.
It launched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day five years ago when the TrueHoop Network did as well. Five years, 4,565 posts, 1,235,674 comments, and whole lot of words in between.
So allow me to say with as much sincerity as possible that I am incredibly thankful for everyone that’s read any of these words I’ve written, and for all your weirdos that keep coming back anyway. And a special thanks to you freaks in the comment section. There are some rough nights, but all in all, I think Daily Thunder has the wittiest, funniest and most intelligent community of commenters in the NBA.
Thanks, everybody. For realz.
(And yes, as a birthday present to DT, I got that ultimate mix of Nick Collison setting screens and taking charges. Because what else would it be?)
Darnell Mayberry: “I just don’t get why Brooks isn’t letting Jackson play through mistakes. This seems to be the time to let him build his confidence, not risk ruining it by yanking him after a couple of mistakes. Someone said to me Brooks’ sub of Jackson was about trying to get Jackson in with the second unit, to do just that, build his confidence. Meh. Maybe. Jackson did start the second quarter (he had better), but Durant returned three minutes, 20 seconds into the second, too, which nullified Jackson running the show. Also, Jackson didn’t check out until 1:42 was left in the third quarter. So who knows? It’s something to watch, though. If that’s what Brooks is doing, I think it’s a fantastic strategy.”
LeBron: “Nah, I ain’t beyond that. I ain’t beyond that at all,” James said. “I love when I see K.D. do something like that. It gives me an incentive. I don’t get that many shots around here, but I might be able to do a little something. I might be able to get a couple of dunks.” Keep Reading…