Thursday Bolts – 2.16.12

From Elias: “Kevin Durant outscored Kevin Martin 33-32, but the Rockets edged the Thunder, 96-95 in Houston. At the same time, Kevin Love was scoring 30 points in the Timberwolves’ win against the Bobcats. Most career NBA games with 30 or more points by players named Kevin: Durant (115), Garnett (84), Johnson (70), Martin (68), McHale (65), Loughery (35), Willis (32) and Love (19).”

Ben Golliver of gave OKC an F for last night: “The West’s top team can’t be happy with the slowest of slow starts, as they scored just 13 points in the first quarter at Houston, digging themselves a 16-point hole in the first frame. The Thunder charged back hard and probably should have won this one, but neither Kevin Durant (33 points) or Russell Westbrook (26 points) really found their strokes from deep. Unusual late-game shortcomings from both All-Stars added salt to the wound.”

James Harden’s Tom’s. Which have Harden’s face on them.

Fox Sports picks the worst contract on each team and has Perk for OKC: “The Thunder were excited to trade for Perkins last year, and they surely don’t regret giving him a four-year contract extension before he played a game for them. Not yet, anyway. The problem may come in the next few years as they try to keep Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. They’re all better players than Perkins, who was also the fifth-best player in Boston, but how much money can OKC afford to pay them after over-valuing its tough but limited center?”

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop on timeouts in crunchtime: “The same goes for most knowledge — the more everybody reads the scouting report, the less valuable the element of surprise, and the better the defense. Offensive coaches can’t use a timeout to make people better shooters, or to make them jump higher. But they really can use that time to decide how five players will work together to cope with the most likely scenarios. If they run a high pick-and-roll with less than five seconds left, we’ll trap the ball-handler. If they isolate, we’ll double on the dribble. That kind of stuff drastically limits open shots, and really works.”

An update from Darnell Mayberry on Thabo: “The diagnosis was no different. But it was, however, determined that Sefolosha, who has been listed as day-to-day, will now wear a protective boot to aid and perhaps speed the recovery process. The goal is to mobilize Sefolosha’s foot and maximize the rest that he is being given by the team’s medical and training staffs. There is no new timeline for Sefolosha’s return.”

Perk’s tech from Feb. 3 against Memphis was rescinded, so he officially has nine for the season. I would assume his tech last night against Houston will be too.

Russell Westbrook eight, KD two in’s MVP Watch.

Great note from Mayberry: “Some will criticize the Thunder for late-game execution after this one. Count me out. The Thunder got some pretty good shots on goal if I may borrow a soccer reference. They just didn’t go in. As I wrote for Thursday’s paper, there are some who will use this game as evidence that a “jump-shooting team” always will struggle in close games. I didn’t think that was the case. The Thunder was 0-for-9 in the final 2 minutes, 10 seconds. The last attempt was a desperation launch by Westbrook. So excluding that, only three of the final eight misses were 3-pointers. Of the other five, one was from 16 feet, one was from 15 feet, one was a 10-foot runner, one was a blocked layup and one was a missed tip-in. That’s not what I would call settling.”

Rahat Huq of Red94: “I watched James Harden actually comb his beard for a few minutes after the game, in the lockerroom. He really went to work on it. Someone then handed him some lotion and I thought he was going to apply the lotion on his face, over the beard. This might sound strange, but I actually have a friend with a similarly sized beard and this is what he does – he lotions the beard. But James Harden did not lotion his beard; he applied it on his neck.”

KD will be coaching the All-Star celebrity game with Dwight Howard.

Berry Tramel tries to figure out Westbrook’s assist drop: “And now we get to 2011-12, and Westbrook’s assist totals are way down, back to his rookie numbers (5.3). Can all of that be traced to the loss of Krstic and Green and the changing dynamic of the Thunder squad? “I think our assist totals are down as a team,” said Thunder coach Scotty Brooks. True enough. The Boomers are averaging 18.1 assists per game. They averaged 20.4 assists per game last season. Before the trade, the Thunder averaged 20.0 assists per game. In those nine games without Green and Krstic, but also without Perkins, the Thunder averaged 22.4 assists per game. In the 17 games after Perk’s arrival, the Thunder averaged 20.6 assists per game. So the assists actually were up a little after the trade.”