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Our beloved nation has been divided into two halves with wildly opposing views.
Both parties are vocal, passionate and strongly believe they are on the side of truth. Each group can present cold, hard evidence as to why their line of thinking is correct. And when they do, those with the conflicting viewpoint will appear in droves in the comments section to antagonistically articulate how and why the OP is wrong.
I am speaking, of course, of the split down the middle of Thunder Nation’s fandom.
Tankers vs. Anti-Tankers.
Coming into the Nuggets game , the Anti-Tankers were feeling themselves just a bit. Even though the win/loss record was a so far stalemate 6-6, the Thunder had exceeded all expectations and was riding the momentum of a 22 point comeback in overtime against the Bulls. That victory velocity was vanquished by way of a 119-101 Denver drubbing.
But it wasn’t just the extra notch in the loss column that had the Tankers popping champagne Tuesday night.
The Joker was just the first level boss on a road trip filled with arch nemeses. Now below .500, the Thunder travel to LA for a double header against Regular Season P and Kawhi Leonard, then it’s off to Portland to say hello to and get waved goodbye from Damian Lillard, and then one last stop to see frenemy Chris Paul. The good news for Anti-Tankers: after a brutal stretch, the last game of January is at home. The bad news: Kevin Durant and James Harden are the final bosses. Tankers are salivating at the thought of a 6-12 Thunder team to close the month.
But not so fast, Hom Tanks. The Anti-Tankers will be fast to tell you to put away those tank fobs because OKC is still only 1 game out of the 8 seed, the Blazers just lost McCollum and Nurkic, the Suns have lost two straight games, and the February schedule is filled with winnable games.
To tank or not to tank. To try to draft Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley or Jalen Suggs or try to win games against the Bulls, Spurs or Wolves. All this bickering back and forth and drawing lines in the red dirt has OKC fans ready to call off relationships with lifelong Thunder Buddies.
But there is one symbol of hope and unity that every orange and blue blooded Thunder fan, no matter race, creed, or religion, can all come together and agree on: Lu Dort.
The lone shining bright-as-an-All-Star spot in the Denver game was the play on both sides of the court of Lu Dort. The second year undrafted phenom shut rising star Jamal Murray down to the tune of 5 points on 10 shots on the defensive end, and he scored 20 points including three 3s as he is visibly getting more comfortable each game on the offensive end.
Anti-Tankers reveled in delight as Dort led the Thunder in the Bulls comeback and as his scoring kept OKC within reach throughout the first half against the Nuggets. Tankers lauded Lu’s play not as a tool to win now but as a reminder of how special he might be when the Thunder are ready to contend.
The last four years have had their share of ups and downs for our Thunder Nation.
The thrill of the Russ MVP season, the excitement and disappointment of the OK3, the renewed excitement and renewed disappointment of the Unfinished Business season, and the sadness turned unexpected sensation of the CP3 Revenge Tour.
But it’s clear a new day has dawned in OKC. The current season is filled with wonder and mystery, with dreams and with doubt. Half are filled with hope, the other half are expecting the worst. The torch has been passed from former leader CP3 to his right hand man SGA. Based upon the early results, Shai has chosen Luguentz to be his running mate.
Regardless of which side you find yourself on, whether it be Tanker or Anti-Tanker, let’s all hope that no matter how fun or how funky the next year or two or three or four become, the Thunder’s future is a successful one and that we can eventually put aside our basketball beliefs to once again come together as one united Thunder Nation.
- Al Horford missed his third straight game, the last two because he and his wife welcomed a new baby to the Horford household.
- Al and his family are in OKC and there is no timetable for his return.
- Isaiah Roby has scored in double digits in all four of his starts at center.
- This is essentially Roby’s rookie season. He played 10 garbage time minutes last year. He’s making a case to stick around with this young core.
- The streak continues: Lu Dort has hit at least one 3 in every game this season. Just incredible from Lu.
- OKC went on a 10-0 run and got up 31-23 in the 1st quarter. And it was all the young Thunder core- Shai, Dort, Bazley and Roby had 26 of the Thunder’s 31.
- The Nuggets responded with a 15-0 run to end the 1st and to start the 2nd quarter.
- Shai was sensational to start. He had 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in the first quarter. He’d only play another quarter and a half.
- Hamidou Diallo launched a shot from half court and I still thought he was going to get his own rebound.
- Lu Dort and Jamal Murray were matched up head to head. Dort scored 20 on 8-11 and 3-6 from 3. Murray scored 5 points on 2-10 shooting and 0-3 from 3. Dort outplayed the rising star on both sides of the court.
- Every time OKC plays in Denver, I think of the Russell Westbrook game winner the day he broke the triple double record. The shot gave Russ 50 on the night and knocked the Nuggets out of the playoffs… and their fans CHEERED. It’s an all-time Thunder moment. Not a single player from that team remains in OKC.
- OKC had four players score in double digits: Dort, Shai, Bazley and Roby. All are 22 or younger
- Moses Brown scored more in 6 minutes than Jamal Murray scored all game (courtesy of Lu Dort). When the Thunder lose by 20, you gotta find the little, petty wins.
- Pre-concussion Poku made an appearance with 0 points on 7 shots.
- Mark Daigneault on Isaiah Roby giving up so much size to Jokic: “Obviously it’s a tough cover right now. I don’t think it’s a long term tough cover for him. We see him as that type of player.”
- Well, that clears up any question that the Thunder look at Roby as a long term piece.
- Lu Dort on if he can tell he’s frustrating the player he’s defending: “Sometimes yeah.”
- The players Dort is defending: “Always yeah.”
- Up next: a Friday and Sunday double header against Kawhi, PG13, Patrick Beverley, Reggie Jackson and hey finally someone we like, Serge.