Thursday Bolts – 1.12.12

John Hollinger’s All-Surprise team: “Among shooting guards who have played more than five games and didn’t visit a German knee doctor this past summer, Harden is first in PER. He’s also nearly leading the Thunder in the same category, which is pretty impressive considering the two other All-Stars on the roster. Harden continues to refine his pick-and-roll wizardry, sharply upping his efficiency through the first 11 games. Harden’s 19.5 assist ratio is almost in point guard territory, while his 22.7 points per 40 minutes signify his evolution into an A-list primary scoring threat. The real kicker, though, is the efficiency. Harden’s 65.3 TS% is the best of any player with a usage rate above 20 and more than five games played; he’s drawing 6.8 free throw attempts per game despite taking nearly half his shots from beyond the 3-point line, producing a lethal cocktail of high-value scoring chances.”

Cole Aldrich and Dwight Howard are making an investment in a device that helps prevent texting and driving.

Westbrook and Durant are on Team USA’s preliminary roster.

Joe Gerrity of Hornets 24/7: “Aminu really did a lot better defending Durant than I thought he would. He avoided dumb fouls, used his length to challenge Durant when he was on him, and really prevented him from getting easy buckets inside. Sure Durant got his from outside, but that’s going to happen no matter who is guarding him. Landry had a much harder time. Offensively he did what he’s good at, grabbing a few boards and trying to finish strong. He had a nice dunk and should have had another if not for that pesky rim. Within a few years I’m not sure there will be many players better suited to guarding Durant than Aminu.”

Scott Brooks on Perk’s tech pace: “He’s an emotional guy and other teams know that. If you want to pick a fight, he’s ready and willing. We have to control it, but he plays with that. He needs to play with that chip on his shoulder. He makes us good because he has that. He brings toughness every time he’s on the floor.”

Berry Tramel: “Tough, blue-collar, hard-hat ballplayers. That’s what Perkins and Allen are. Maybe the best post defender in the league, and one of the best wing defenders in the league. The Celtics could use them both. Boston still has its stars. But Boston does not have legitimate title hopes.”

Bill Reiter of Fox Sports on chemistry: “But the power to win championships lies not just in those stars but in each one of them having a team and situation that bring out their best. In a season with little practice, less training camp and almost no bonding time a serious advantage has been handed down to teams with no coaching changes, their cores mostly intact and their drama and growing pains already behind them. It’s why the Heat, Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder (if the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook schism turns out not to be one) find themselves with the best records in the league and the best shots at a championship.”

From Elias: “Kevin Durant scored 29 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added four blocked shots for good measure as the Thunder defeated the Hornets in New Orleans. It was the second time in Durant’s NBA career that he scored that many points to go along with double-digit rebounds and at least four blocked shots in one game. He did so previously in a victory over the Grizzlies on January 28, 2009 (35 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks).”