Archive - February 2012

Thunder Grinds Past 76ers 92-88 Behind Gritty 4th Quarter Defense

First off, isn’t it great to see the Thunder playing games again? It seems like forever since the Lakers game last Thursday night. They came out tonight and played like a team that was out of rhythm a little bit. The first two possession of the game resulted in Thunder turnovers, an area of emphasis moving into the second half of the season. However, when it mattered most the team played hard-nose defense and gutted out the victory 92-88.

There are good things to take away from this game and there are bad things. Obviously the lights-out defense the team played down the stretch was very impressive. There was a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter in which the 76ers did not score. I think I remember two air balls in a row. I thought the guards did a great job containing dribble penetration on the perimeter, which allowed our bigs to sink more to the interior.

Most of the night the Thunder got killed in the paint. Philadelphia outscored Oklahoma City 46-30 in the paint. However, on key possessions down the stretch the 76ers couldn’t get any good looks within 15 feet. That is a good sign for the Thunder. Granted, I would liked to have seen Oklahoma City string together several quarters of that defensive intensity, but for now, I will be satisfied with the final eight minutes of the game.

Another positive was the aggressiveness of Russell Westbrook on the offensive glass.  He had more offensive rebounds than any other player in the game (7) and game-high total rebounds (13). In the first half he was getting to the rim very often, but Philadelphia did a great job in the second half keeping him in check. As Westbrook so often does, he found a way to impact the game in other areas. No rebound was more crucial than the one he grabbed with 4 seconds left on a missed FT by Durant, which essentially sealed the game.

Now the bad stuff. The Thunder’s offensive performance in the third quarter was  by far their worst of any quarter all season. They managed just 10 points on 2-20 shooting. What were those two field goals? A 20-foot jumper by Ibaka and a three-pointer by Daequan Cook. Neither Durant, Westbrook nor Harden scored a field goal in the third quarter. I don’t have the numbers in front of me now, but I would go out on a limb and say it has been a while since that has occurred, if ever.

Philadelphia made a few halftime adjustments that really frustrated OKC’s offensive attack. The guards applied more pressure on the perimeter and they double Durant early. The Thunder did not do a good job recognizing the defense, which caused the possession to stall and usually resulted in a forced shot attempt. Going forward, the team needs to more quickly recognize and adjust to that type of defense and run more Durant/Harden or Durant/Westbrook pick-and-Rolls.

Overall, I think this was a fantastic road win for the Thunder. They needed a game to shake off the rust before playing on national TV tomorrow night. They stepped it up when they needed to and pulled out the win.

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Game Day #35: Thunder at 76ers

OKC Thunder (27-7, 12-6 road) at Philadelphia 76ers (20-14, 13-6 home)

at 

Where: Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA
When: 6:00 p.m.
TV:
 FSOK (DirectTV 679, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27, U-Verse 754)
Online Stream: Here.
Radio: WWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the Enemy: Here.
Projected Lineups:

Thunder:
Sixers: 

Well, we’re back to business. The Thunder travel to Philadelphia where for the first half of the season, it’s been a tough venue to win in. Toward the All-Star break, the 76ers have been slumping, just 3-7 in last 10 games, they’re still a solid ball club.

The 76ers are a deep team. They have 10 players averaging 17 or more minutes per game. Comparing that to Oklahoma City, Philadelphia plays 2 more based on the same minutes per game. Yeah, Oklahoma City goes 10 deep, but the Sixers 10 stay on the floor together more.

Andre Iguodala leads Philadelphia. He played in the All-Star game. He’s a solid defender and a consistent offensive threat. What’s scary about Philadelphia is that their best scorer comes off the bench. Lou Williams is that guy. He’s averaging 15.6 points per game. He’s also being talked about for the sixth man of the year award. Philadelphia’s depth extends on the scoreboard. They have six players averaging 10 points per game.

The Thunder are riding a five game win streak and has a three game lead on the rest of the Western Conference. They’re tied for the best record in the NBA. Durant had a great All-Star weekend. Hopefully he can carry the momentum over into the second half of the season.

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Midseason Awards

I used 15 different blogs/sites from around the internet to see what everyone is saying for their mid-season awards. Then, I give you mine. I’m going to try and seem as objective as possible, but if I come off bias, well… remember you are on a Thunder site.

MVP: Lebron James – Miami Heat
ThunderObsessed:  Lebron James – Miami heat. Don’t fret OKC fans, I had KD just second in this race. It’s hard to argue against someone who’s close to averaging a triple double. Yeah, Durant may take him in the points, and James might not lead any real statistical category. Gotta appreciate how good this guy is though. Read More

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Kevin Durant wins first All-Star MVP Award

“It’s just an exciting feeling to be named an All-Star” Durant said. “But to step it up another level and win MVP is a dream come true.”

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Durant shines in Three-Point Contest


Russell Westbrook finished fifth overall in the skills competition out of the six competitors. Westbrook finished with a time of 33.8. It was just a second off Rajon Rondo who went to the finals with a 32.8 time. Read More

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2012 NBA All-Star Weekend – What To Watch For

Well, NBA All-Star weekend is upon us. If you’re like a lot of fans here in OKC, you probably really want to see when Thunder players are involved, and probably don’t care too much about the rest of it all. So, I’ve taken the liberty of setting up a Thunder fan’s guide to watching the All-Star game.  Read More

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Thunder Use Second Half Surge, Win 100-85

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Oklahoma City trailed early in the first quarter, but never looked back after taking the league at halftime. Oklahoma City outscored the Lakers by 12 points in the second half en route to a 100-85 victory. The Thunder improved to a league best 27-7 overall. Oklahoma city also won their 12th straight home game, improving their record at home to 15-1 overall.

Oklahoma City came out hot in the second half and turned a three point halftime lead into a 11 point lead after the end of three quarters. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the bench to start the fourth quarter, it was James Harden leading the charge for the Thunder. He helped facilitate the offense and defense, keeping the Lakers at arm’s length while the starters rested.

When the starters came in the Lakers tried to make a run. However, Oklahoma City’s offense was just a little too much. The Lakers cut the lead to 90-81 with 2:55 remaining in the game. Harden hit a big three and KD got to the line, to give Oklahoma City the 95-81 lead with 1:50 to go in the game. The Lakers would not get any closer than that.

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Game Day #34: Lakers at Thunder

Los Angeles Lakers (20-13, 6-11 road) at Oklahoma City Thunder (26-7, 14-1 home)

 at 

Where: The ‘Peake!
When: 8:30 p.m.
TV:
 TNT (245 DirecTV, 31 Cox, 108 AT&T U-Verse, 138 Dish)
Online StreamHere.
RadioWWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the EnemyHere.
Projected Lineups:

Thunder:
Lakers:

Last time: Oklahoma City thumped the Lakers in Los Angeles 120-106 last season. First meeting in 2011-2012

I would say this was the premiere battle of the night, but the Heat/Knicks game will take that honor with “Linsanity” taking center stage. (Okay, that’s our first and last Lin reference). However, this is a big game. Oklahoma City is the best home team in the league and the Lakers have won two in a row. Lakers tried to implode at Dallas in the final seconds last night but survived 96-91.

The Lakers really don’t have any guard help besides Kobe Bryant. Derek Fisher is old. Steve Blake really inconsistent. Last night’s 15 points by Fisher was a rare thing this season.

The Lakers can still win though. They play great defense even though they don’t score a lot of points. Lakers rank 23rd in points per game. Their defense though, ranks 6th in points allowed per game.

Oklahoma City punked the Celtics last night 119-104. The Thunder led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter. Kevin Durant had 28 points, Russell Westbrook had 31 points in the win.

Keys to the Game Read More

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Thunder COOKed Up a Win Over The Celtics

Daequan Cook finally came out of his shooting slump. He was 4-32 from three-point range his previous five games, but tonight he finally found his stroke. He finished 3-8 from three-point range and tied his season high of 17 points. Oklahoma City held off a late run by the Celtics to win 119-104. It was the 11th straight home win by the Thunder. OKC improved to 26-7 overall and a league best 14-1 at home.

The Celtics came out smokin’ hot though, jumped on Oklahoma City 22-12 midway through the first quarter. Then the Thunder turned it on. They ended the first quarter on a 23-3 run to have a 10 point lead at the end of the first quarter.

The run continued into the second quarter where Oklahoma City would cap off a thrilling first half by outscoring the Celtics 37-24 in the second quarter. Oklahoma City was 8-12 from three-point range in the first half as the Thunder had a 72-49 lead.

The Thunder pushed the lead to 27 points in the third quarter. Daequan Cook’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 7:07 left in the third quarter gave Oklahoma City the 83-56 lead.

The Celtics cut the deficit in half with a 16-4 run to finish the third, with much of the damage coming after Durant picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with just under 3 minutes remaining.

The Celtics would fight hard and eventually cut it to 108-102 with 3:31 left in the game. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook wouldn’t let the score get any closer. OKC closed the game on a 11-2 run and squashed any chance of a victory for Boston.

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Game Day #33: Thunder at Celtics

Boston Celtics (15-16, 4-8 road) at Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7, 13-1 Home)

 at 

Where: The ‘Peake!
When: 6:00 p.m.
TV:
 ESPN (206 Directv, 28 Cox, 602 AT&T U-Verse, 140 Dish)
Online Stream: Here.
Radio: WWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the Enemy: Here.
Projected Lineups:

Thunder:
Celtics:

Last time: Oklahoma City beat the Celtics in Boston 97-88.

Well, the Celtics come into tonight’s game short handed. Rajon Rondo is sitting out the second of a two game suspension. Kevin Garnett sat out against the Mavericks, but he’s expected to join Boston in Oklahoma City.

The Celtics are coming off a 89-73 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Celtics struggled to score the entire game. Didn’t help that was the first game of Rondo’s two game suspension.

Oklahoma City had to fight off a pesky Hornets squad that battled back from 24 points down. Oklahoma City eventually came away with the 101-93 victory.

Remember tonight’s game is at 6 p.m. Plan accordingly. With people leaving work and heading down town, parking could be a huge pain.

Keys to the Game

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