Tuesday Bolts – 1.24.12

Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com gives OKC an A+ for their first quarter of the season: “The slip up against the Washington Wizards was both memorable and regrettable, but OKC has otherwise been clicking on all cylinders to start the season. It doesn’t come as a surprise, given how aggressively Kevin Durant and company attacked the lockout. If you’re handicapping the West, it sure looks like “Thunder or the field” already, which is scary given the youth of their core. Did I mention that they locked up an All-Star point guard for the next half decade?”

NBA.com power rankings: “Despite the loss in Washington, there was plenty of good news for OKC last week. Russell Westbrook got locked up for the next five years and the Thunder started to play some defense. They couldn’t score against the Wizards or Nets, but have allowed just 91 points per 100 possessions over their last five games.”

Marc Stein of ESPN.com’s rankings: “The Thunder are one of just two teams with a better regular-season record than Denver since Melo was dealt to New York on Feb. 22, 2011: Chicago is 39-7 and OKC is 33-11. But a loss in D.C. — Durant’s hometown! — isn’t easily overlooked by the committee (of one).”

OKC’s court isn’t one of the league’s worst anymore.

James Harden is the early consensus Sixth Man, but who’s in the running with him?

Scott Brooks on his pending contract situation: “I’ve got a contract. I have a job. There are 30 great jobs in the NBA, and I’ve got one of them. I’m with a great organization, a great place to be.”

The Thunder’s three-headed monster.

Dan Feldman of Piston Powered: “That battle – one that nobody outside of Pistons employees cares about – isn’t the right one for Stuckey, either. Want to prove you’re better than Westbrook? Bring it every game. Westbrook had 24-6-5 tonight. He had 21-6-3 in his last game. He had 36-7-5, 26-4-7, 21-8-8, 22-7-2 and 30-6-4 in his last five games before that. He’ll probably have something like 24-6-5 in his next game, too. That’s why he just received a max contract.”

More talk on Westbrook’s deal and the Thunder’s future.

Jenni Carlson says Westbrook was worth every penny: “But despite all the fireworks, the best thing about Westbrook’s night was his calm, poise and focus. We’ve seen him play too fast or with too big a chip on his shoulder. He’s not at his best when he plays like that. Maybe getting this new contract has taken some of that pressure off him. He has said that he doesn’t feel like he was pressing early in the season because the deal hadn’t gotten done, but it had to be in the back of his mind. It was his future. It was his career.”

Serge Ibaka wants to enter the dunk contest again.

Darnell Mayberry: “I’m ready for Cole Aldrich to play. Nothing against Nazr Mohammed (OK, maybe a little something), but Aldrich looks ready for a larger role. I mean, how much better is he really going to get in practice. My gut says the backup center job belongs to Aldrich next season when Naz’s contract expires. But if I’m Brooks, why wait? Mohammed hasn’t been as consistent this year, and Aldrich seems to have an impact rebounding and on defense every time he gets minutes. I’d make the move.”

Dime interviewed Reggie Jackson: “Dime: Being with Kevin Durant, do you guys get any hook ups with shoes? RJ: I got the KD’s on right now. He takes care of us. Everybody on this team looks out for each other. I’m pretty sure if I asked Russ (Westbrook) for a pair of those kicks, he would give me those too. Everybody’s just looking out for the most part.”