Archive - March 2017

Thunder Game Day #75: vs. San Antonio Spurs

Oklahoma City Thunder (43-31, 27-10 home) vs. San Antonio Spurs (57-17, 28-9 away)
Friday, March 31 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)

Thunder Game Day #75: vs. San Antonio Spursvs. Thunder Digest

TV: ESPN (206 Directv, 28 Cox, 720 HD , 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.
Line: Oklahoma City is a 2½-point underdog. O/U is 208½
Notes: Thunder: here | Spurs: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • As the MVP race tightens, Russell Westbrook will look to make a showing on the national stage against the San Antonio Spurs tonight on ESPN.
  • Oklahoma City and ESPN split the first two meetings, this will be the rubber match for the regular season series.
  • Oklahoma City is 8-2 in their last 10 games and it’s no coincidence Taj Gibson has been starting the entire time.
  • San Antonio has the second best record in the NBA.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Oklahoma City and San Antonio will be on ESPN for those not in the OKC area.

WIN OVER MAVS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Recap
  • Oklahoma City trailed by as many as 21 points but saw another magnificent Thunder come back.
  • Russell Westbrook scored 14 total in fourth quarter as he finished with his fourth consecutive triple-double, his 38th this season.
  • Enes Kanter scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as he dominated the post for the THunder.
  • The Thunder outscored the magic 23-12 on the break.

SCOUTING THE SPURS

  • The San Antonio Spurs are 57-17 on the season, second in the Western Conference.
  • The Spurs are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
  • San Antonio lost to the Warriors on Wednesday night 110-98.
  • Oklahoma City and the Spurs have split the first two meetings in the regular season.
  • Oklahoma City is 14-17 all-time vs. San Antonio in the Oklahoma City era.
  • The Thunder are 9-7 all-time at home vs. the Spurs.
  • San Antonio is relatively healthy.
  • Oklahoma City has won seven of their last eight at home vs. San Antonio, including three in a row.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over San Antonio came on Dec. 17, 2012, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 107-93 (14-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (39 points) vs. San Antonio occurred during a 91-130 loss on march 25, 2015.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK TRIP-DUBS

  • Russell Westbrook has 75 career triple-doubles, that’s best for sixth all-time.
  • 22 of the 75 are against Houston, Orlando, Washington, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. He has four against each team.
  • Russell Westbrook seven triple-doubles in a row this season is the most since 1989 when Jordan had seven in a row and 10 in 11 games.
  • Westbrook is fifth all-time in triple-doubles.

ALL-TIME TRIPLE-DOUBLE LIST

Rank Name Triple-doubles
1 Oscar Robertson 181
2 Magic Johnson 138
3 Jason Kidd 108
4 Russell Westbrook 79

WESTBROOK TRIPLE-DOUBLE CAREER LIST

[table “” not found /]

INJURY REPORT

  • Taj Gibson (illness) is probable for tonight.

50 IS NIFTY

  • On March 24, the Thunder claimed a 22-point home victory over the Jazz and in the process, OKC recorded the team’s 50th win of the season.
  • Oklahoma City has now finished with a winning percentage of .610 (equivalent to 50 wins) six times dating back to the 2009-10 season.
  • Only the San Antonio Spurs (seven seasons with .610 winning percentage), have reached that benchmark more during this period.

STILL GOOD ODDS

  • According to Sportsbook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the eighth best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
  • They have the fifth best odds to win the Western Conference behind, the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, and the Warriors.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City says hello to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.
  • The Hornets are 34-41 on the season, 11th in the East.
  • Charlotte is 5-5 in their last 10 games.
  • The Hornets beat the Thunder 123-112 on Jan. 4.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Hit the three

The Thunder are only hitting 30 percent of threes at home when they lose. They hit 36 percent from beyond the arc when they’re winning. It’s imperative the Thunder find the stroke and nail some threes tonight. If they go 4-of-21 again, this could be a bad night.

Make your free throws

Oklahoma City ranks 23rd in free throw shooting at 74.7 percent. The Thunder have to make their free throws. When they were winning games, Oklahoma City makes only 72 percent of their tries in March. Oklahoma City has done a better job this month to improve at the charity stripe.

Take care of the ball

Giving the Spurs an opportunity to have a lot more chances than the Thunder is a part of the recipe for a loss. Oklahoma City had a lot of turnovers in their first meeting. They’ve found a combination that works as they’re marching toward the playoffs.

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OKC should invite Oscar Robertson to final home stretch

By Michael E. Keating, Cincinnati Enquirer

Since the inception of the franchise, the Oklahoma City Thunder has been adamant on building its own history and legacy.

While technically the records and numbers of the Seattle SuperSonics remain with the franchise, the Thunder see themselves as a team who’s first days began in 2008. This is out of respect for the people of Seattle who want to keep their history and for those in Oklahoma City who wish to hold on to their own fortunes.

So much so that Oklahoma City denied the ability to don the gold patches that adorn the back collars of every title-winning team’s jersey in 2014. That of course would have commemorated the Seattle NBA Finals championship won by the franchise back in the 1978-79 season.

“It’s important to this organization, and fans, that we keep separate Oklahoma City records that are set here,” former Thunder public relations director Brian Facchini told NewsOK back in 2008.

But now, history has thrust itself upon the busy street of Reno Ave in downtown Oklahoma City. History in the form of a basketball supernova from sunny southern California — Russell Westbrook.

After notching his 38th triple-double last night in Orlando, Westbrook finds himself three away from tying the legendary Oscar Robertson and four from passing him with eight games remaining.

Once, the question was “will Westbrook do it?” Now transitioned to “when will Westbrook do it?”

Count Robertson along with Thunder and Westbrook fans as one who is rooting for the All-Star Oklahoma City point guard to tie or break the record.

“I hope he gets it (a triple-double average this season),” Robertson said on NBA TV earlier in March. “Why should I care, man? I hope he does. I think it’s great to talk about it.”

Yes, in the Thunder’s head, their history began in 2008. But the NBA has been around since the end of the Second World War — one of the more hallowed achievements in the game is Robertson’s 1961-62 triple-double season.

It would be an excellent gesture from the franchise of Oklahoma City if the Thunder invited Robertson to the two final home games.

The first chance Westbrook has of tying Robertson’s 41 triple-doubles is April 4th in Oklahoma City against the Milwaukee Bucks. To do so he would have to triple-double for the second time ever against San Antonio on Friday night and against the Charlotte Hornets for the first time two days later.

After the Milwaukee game, the Thunder go on the road for four games before the regular season and home finale on April 12th against the Denver Nuggets.

For a franchise so focused on creating its own strong legacy in the post-Seattle move, inviting the “Big O” would be a positive way to tap into the pre-Thunder days of the NBA and bridge the eras between Robertson and Westbrook.

Westbrook has been wise to downplay his triple-doubles in exchange for focusing on team success. While the two are certainly connected — the Thunder are 31-7 when he earns a triple-double — the dynamic guard has only worried about wins and losses. As the season and his historic run has progressed, Westbrook has opened up more and more about the possibility of joining Robertson in basketball legend.

“It’s a blessing to be able to come out every night and compete at a high level,” Westbrook told reporters after he tied Wilt Chamberlain for second in NBA history for triple-doubles in a single season. “To be mentioned with those guys (Chamberlain and Robertson) is truly a blessing.”

It could certainly provide an amazing and emotional scene if Westbrook ties or breaks the record with him in attendance.

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OKC assistant Anthony Grant hired as Dayton head coach

Alabama head coach Anthony Grant reacts to a call during a game against Florida at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on February 08, 2014 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

In a turn of events, the Dayton Flyers have hired Oklahoma City Thunder assistant Anthony Grant as their new head coach the school announced on Thursday morning.

Grant, who has been an assistant for the last two seasons with the Thunder as a part of Billy Donovan’s first coaching staff. Before joining the Thunder, Grant was the head coach at the University of Alabama from 2009-2015.

“Anthony Grant is a proven winner with the highest integrity,” Dayton athletic director Neil Sullivan said in a statement. “He has successful experience in coaching, recruiting and playing basketball at an elite level. I welcome Anthony to our staff and look forward to partnering with him as we continue to aggressively pursue graduating student-athletes, winning conference championships and advancing in the NCAA tournament. He is absolutely the right coach.”

Grant played for the Flyers from 1983-1987. Former Flyer head coach Archie Miller left to take the head job at Indiana. He was a three-year starter at Dayton and averaged 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in his career.

“I am honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Dayton,” Grant said in a statement. “It’s a great responsibility to take over at an institution that is so well-respected. Anyone you talk to in college basketball would say our program is a successful one, but the potential is here for so much more.”

Oklahoma City is 92-58 in two seasons with Grant as an assistant.

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Magic Meltdown! 3-29-17

  • Go Dipo. Hope he drops 30+. But as long as we lose I’m happy
  • They’re killing us already lol.
  • FFS Westbrook
  • Uh oh Adams and Payton talking crap. Keep an eye on those two.
  • Vuc is so soft it’s comical.
  • Steele is drunk or blind… or both
  • Westbrook seems to be having the same issues
  • That was one of the most badly missed free throws you’ll ever see, but I’m a huge Steven Adams fan.
  • DJ stared at an open Hezonja and passed to OKC.
  • I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody that enjoys dribbling a basketball more than DJ Augustin.
  • The Knicks and 6ers are headed to losses, so we really need to blow this lead. I hope OKC is up to the task.
  • Vogel flabbergasted as he takes that timeout. “I don’t understand, the Fournier offense should continue to work every single time. My calculations were absolute.”
  • I see Oladipo still sucks when playing in the amway center… just like last season.
  • OKC, why are you so freaking awful at basketball?
  • Pat Sajak in the crowd… the only thing worth being happy for
  • We got this. We can definitely blow a 10 point lead if Russ takes over.
  • freaking oladipo playing like crap is ruining okc’s comeback
  • so depressing that we are going to win this one.
  • Even if we’re up by 3 with a few seconds left and OKC has no timeouts, don’t panic. Westbrook can still bank one in from halfcourt.
  • This is why we traded Dipo. We can’t even rely on him to beat our own team.
  • Russ has to be MVP
  • Westbrook, keep it going.
  • I **** hate this team so much.
  • Great win boys…
  • Westbrook started taking over just a couple minutes too late.
  • Screw lottery 8th seed baby. glad we won!
  • Lolololol
  • !!!!!!
  • OT
  • Lmaoooo
  • Gawdbrook
  • YEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! LMFAO!!
  • Thank you Westbrook
  • I’m sick to my stomach…literally…
  • i’ve never been more of a Westbrook fan. lol
  • I screamed when Russ made that shot.
  • Good lord Westbrook
  • Wtf those MVP chants are way too loud
  • So embarrassing our “fans”.
  • Westbrook destroying Elfrid.
  • Wow those MVP chants are deafening in our arena LOL.
  • Hahaha eat it Knicks fans our tank in Hall of Fame mode tonight.
  • Thats our fan base everyone! Those MVP chants were louder than he hears in Oklahoma City.
  • I am sick to my stomach that any of our fans would chant MVP for a player on another team.
  • A bunch of people (THOUSANDS?!?) from OKC in Orlando for a Magic game? Nope. Just a bunch of bandwagoners.
  • I wish I could hug Westbrook. I’m so grateful for this loss
  • This organization has no will to win.
  • Still can’t believe how clutch Westbrook was.
  • It took Westbrook going full on god mode to lose this game,
  • Russ starting hitting shots and i blacked out, what happened?
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Thunder-Bucks moved to ESPN

Jan 2, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon (13) during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 98-94. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Chalk up another national TV game for Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The NBA announced on Thursday afternoon, the Bucks-Thunder game scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4 is going to be on ESPN instead of only regional broadcasts. Ryan Ruocco, analyst Doug Collins and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth on commentary. The telecast will be an ESPN-exclusive game. Though the game will be available on FS Oklahoma, too.

Originally it was supposed to be the Bulls-Knicks but with so many factors favoring the Bucks-Thunder game, the sports leader made the better decision to flex the games.

Oklahoma City and Milwaukee met already once this year with the Bucks winning 98-94. Westbrook had 30 points and six assists in the loss.

The Thunder are 43-31 on the season, including two back-to-back double-digit comebacks capped off by spectacular Westbrook performances. He’s only 39 rebounds and 51 assists away from averaging a triple-double on the season. He would be the first to do so since 1961-62 when Oscar Robertson did it.

Oklahoma City will play the Spurs on Friday night and the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday before playing the Bucks on Tuesday.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Westbrook says Avada Kedavra to the Magic in OT

Mar 29, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots a three pointer to tie the game during the fourth quarter to force overtime against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Oklahoma City Thunder defeats the Orlando Magic 114-106 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It was just another night at the office for your MVP, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook led the Thunder in another night of fourth quarter heroics, this time past the Magic, 114-106 in overtime.

The Thunder started out slow once again. The offense was extremely stagnant in the first half. Nobody could get anything going, and then Russell Westbrook happened. Facing a 13-point deficit with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Westbrook completely took over the game.

He finished with 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. This was his 38th triple double of the year. He did turn the ball over seven times, but he had no turnovers in the second half, and took care of the ball when it really mattered. 57 points is the most points scored in NBA history when triple-doubling, 37 of them came in the second half. No big deal.

The Thunder still trailed late when Nikola Vucevic missed a key free-throw with only seconds left to play. Russell Westbrook rebounded the ball, dribbled the length of the floor, and nailed a contested three over two Magic defenders.

The Thunder had three players in double figures tonight. Enes Kanter added in 17 from off the bench and Victor Oladipo had 13. It was a tough shooting night for everyone on the Thunder besides Russell Westbrook. As a team, Oklahoma City only shot 42 percent from the field, and an even worse 30 percent from the three-point line.

Luckily for the Thunder, the Magic had an even worse shooting night from the field. They ended up shooting 40 percent. They did however have six players in double figures. Leading the charge for Orlando was Evan Fournier who racked up 24 points on the night. Vucevic added 11 points and 16 rebounds.

This was the Thunder’s largest comeback in franchise history, as they fell behind by as many as 21 points.

Russell Westbrook showed again tonight why he deserves the MVP. Fans do not deserve his greatness. His ability to take over a game late in the fourth quarter is just unmatched, as he has showed in both outings this week. Russell Westbrook now has triple-doubles in eight of his last ten games, and has earned MVP chants twice in the month of March in the visiting team’s arena.

Next up for the Thunder they will be at home against the San Antonio Spurs this Friday at 7:00 p.m. Oklahoma City will look to continue their hot streak as they have now won eight of their last 10.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Shoot the three: C-

The Thunder did not shoot the ball well from distance tonight. But, they ended up hitting shots when it mattered. Westbrook made three in the fourth, and Abrines added two of his own in the quarter as well.

Make free-throws: C-

Oklahoma City was off all around tonight shooting wise. They shot 64 percent from the free-throw line. They are lucky that it didn’t hurt them because the Magic ended up at only 70 percent. Westbrook did finish the game 9-of-11 from the line.

Take care of the ball: B

The Thunder won the turnover battle tonight. And if it wasn’t for Russell’s seven first half turnovers, they would’ve ended with only four for the game. As it got closer to crunch time though, the thunder really took care of the ball. Russell did not record one turnover in the second half.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunder Game Day #74: at Orlando Magic

Oklahoma City Thunder (42-31, 15-21 away) vs. Orlando Magic (27-47, 14-23 home)
Wednesday, March 29 :: 6:00 p.m. CST :: Amyway Center (17,461)

Thunder Game Day #74: at Orlando Magicvs. Thunder Digest

TV: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 676-5, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27, U-Verse 751/1751 HD)
Online Stream: here.
Radio: WWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: Oklahoma City is a 5½-point favorite. O/U is 218½
Notes: Thunder: here | Magic: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Russell Westbrook powered Oklahoma City to an impressive come from behind win against Dallas on Monday night and now they’re taking that momentum to Orlando.
  • For Victor Oladipo, he returns home where he spent the first couple of seasons.
  • Orlando stunned the Thunder in Oklahoma City in November.
  • Oklahoma City has won four of the last five games in Orlando.
  • The Magic are are 4-6 in their last 10 games.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

WIN OVER MAVS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Recap
  • Oklahoma City trailed by 13 with 3:31 left in the game, but went on a 14-0 run to secure the come-from-behind (Westbrook scored 12 of OKC’s final 14 points).
  • Russell Westbrook scored 16 total in fourth quarter as he finished with his third consecutive triple-double, his 37th this season.
  • Victor Oladipo scored 15 points in the game and shot 3-of-6 from the three-point line, his 11th straight game with a three-point field goal made.
  • The Thunder outscored the Mavericks 21-6 on the break.

SCOUTING THE MAGIC

  • The Orlando Magic are 27-47 on the season, 14th in the Eastern Conference.
  • The Magic are 4-6 in their last 10 games.
  • Orlando lost to the Raptors 131-112 on Monday night.
  • Oklahoma City lost to the Magic on Nov. 13 in OKC 119-117.
  • The Thunder have beat the magic nine of the last 11 times they’ve met.
  • Oklahoma City is 11-6 all-time vs. the Orlando magic.
  • At the Peake, the Thunder are 4-4 at the Amway Center.
  • Jeff Green (back) is out.
  •  The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Orlando came on Nov. 8, 2009, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 102-74 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (23 points) vs. the Magic occurred during an 88-111 loss on Feb. 25, 2o11.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK TRIP-DUBS

  • Russell Westbrook has 74 career triple-doubles, that’s best for sixth all-time.
  • 22 of the 74 are against Houston, Orlando, Washington, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. He has four against each team.
  • Russell Westbrook seven triple-doubles in a row this season is the most since 1989 when Jordan had seven in a row and 10 in 11 games.
  • Westbrook is fifth all-time in triple-doubles.

ALL-TIME TRIPLE-DOUBLE LIST

Rank Name Triple-doubles
1 Oscar Robertson 181
2 Magic Johnson 138
3 Jason Kidd 108
4 Russell Westbrook 79

WESTBROOK TRIPLE-DOUBLE CAREER LIST

[table “” not found /]

INJURY REPORT

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy.

50 IS NIFTY

  • On March 24, the Thunder claimed a 22-point home victory over the Jazz and in the process, OKC recorded the team’s 50th win of the season.
  • Oklahoma City has now finished with a winning percentage of .610 (equivalent to 50 wins) six times dating back to the 2009-10 season.
  • Only the San Antonio Spurs (seven seasons with .610 winning percentage), have reached that benchmark more during this period.

STILL GOOD ODDS

  • According to Sportsbook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the eighth best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
  • They have the fifth best odds to win the Western Conference behind, the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, and the Warriors.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City says hello to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
  • The Spurs are 57-16 on the season, second in the Western Conference.
  • The Spurs are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
  • Oklahoma City and San Antonio are tied 1-1 in the regular season series.
  • San Antonio plays the Warriors tonight in San Antonio.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Hit the three

The Thunder are only hitting 30 percent of threes at home when they lose. They hit 36 percent from beyond the arc when they’re winning. It’s imperative the Thunder find the stroke and nail some threes tonight. If they go 4-of-21 again, this could be a bad night.

Make your free throws

Oklahoma City ranks 23rd in free throw shooting at 74.7 percent. The Thunder have to make their free throws. When they were winning games, Oklahoma City makes only 72 percent of their tries in March. Oklahoma City has done a better job this month to improve at the charity stripe.

Take care of the ball

Giving the Magic an opportunity to have a lot more chances than the Thunder is a part of the recipe for a loss. Oklahoma City had a lot of turnovers in their first meeting. They’ve found a combination that works as they’re marching toward the playoffs.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Five Thoughts: Thunder split back to back on Texas road trip (3-28-17)

5 thoughts

The Oklahoma City Thunder split their short two game road trip, with a loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday, followed by a come from behind victory on Monday night versus the Dallas Mavericks. It was a tale of two games on this short Texas road trip, as Oklahoma City was in a barnburner with Houston, and a defensive battle with Dallas. Here are five thoughts from the bizarre back to back:

SECOND UNIT OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES ARE UGLY

This was more apparent in last night’s game versus Dallas since it was already a low-scoring game, but the second unit needs major fixing. I don’t think it is much of a lineup problem, as it is a game-planning problem.

All season, the second unit has ran the offense through Enes Kanter in the post, letting him go to work or trying to find an open man for a three. As the season went along, it was very successful as Kanter became good at passing out of the double team, or uses one of his numerous post moves to get an easy lay-up.

Now, as we get to the end of the season, teams have many times to play against the Thunder and scout that offensive game plan. As we have seen on this road trip, when Kanter struggles, it causes the whole second unit to struggle. That is due to how valuable he is to the second unit, but also due to Oklahoma City not having a plan B when teams shut down playing through Enes.

That is why I would like to see more of the plays ran through Victor Oladipo when he is in with the bench to start the second and fourth quarter. He is good enough to play make on his own, and would be great in a high pick and roll situation with Kanter, Jerami Grant, or even Doug McDermott. Overall, it would be good to see some more variation within the second unit’s offense, to keep the opponent guessing.

THUNDER WILL GO AS FAR IN THE PLAYOFFS AS THEIR DEFENSE LETS THEM

It is well known, at least this season, Oklahoma City does not have the firepower offensively to “outscore” a good opponent, let alone a great opponent like the Houston Rockets or Golden State Warriors. It starts on the defensive end where the Thunder have a proven defense that can get consistent stops when they are locked in. Versus the Rockets, it was a terrible defensive effort and the end result showed it. Houston scored at will, and showed they could embarrass Oklahoma City in a playoff matchup if the Thunder put out that kind of effort.

Then last night against Dallas, though a lesser opponent, the Thunder showed that with defense like they played in the fourth quarter, they can overwhelm an opponent and beat them by locking down.

Simply put, if Oklahoma City defends, they won’t have a disappointing playoff run. But if they defend like they did versus Houston, Thunder will be out with a quick, painful first round exit.

WHERE WAS DOMAS SABONIS?

Sabonis had his first ever DNP last night since being drafted by the Thunder this past summer. It was weird since Sabonis just seemed to be getting comfortable in his second unit role, but maybe should have been expected since Oklahoma City was going up against Dirk Nowitzki. This DNP from Sabonis was much more a matchup thing than anything else. Billy Donovan is not afraid to tinker with lineups, and he thought the tested veteran in Nick Collison would be a better choice than the rookie. It won’t show up on the stat sheet, but Donovan seemingly made a good choice, because Collison defended very well in the short amount of time he was out there. Donovan also played Jerami Grant in the small ball lineup which also took away a big chunk of Sabonis’ minutes.

That brings me to my next thought:

JERAMI GRANT NEEDS MORE MINUTES

Since the deadline trade the Thunder made bringing in Taj Gibson and McDermott, Grant has seen his minutes decrease from 20 to even 30 minutes a game, to maybe only 10 to 15 minutes a night. Rightly so, Gibson and McDermott need their minutes. But I hope by playoff time, Billy Donovan has found Grant a spot where he plays on a consistent, nightly basis. Jerami has been solid on defense, being able to guard the perimeter, and also can protect the rim with his insane athletic ability.

He has also been the second best three-point shooter on the Thunder roster percentage wise, and plays well alongside Westbrook or Oladipo. He has to work on his finishing ability around the rim when he isn’t putting someone on the poster, but it has gotten better as the season has progressed.

In my opinion, Grant is the closest thing Oklahoma City has to a two-way player off the bench and can be a big factor for them come playoff time.

DO NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED THE WESTBROOK HEROICS

Russell Westbrook did again last night what he has done all season long, by putting on an unreal fourth quarter show to will his Thunder squad to victory. You could see it in his emotion after the Thunder secured the win, in how badly he wanted this one and not to see his team suffer another inexcusable loss.

The Thunder aren’t quite built for a title run, and maybe their ceiling is a first round win, but do not let that stop you from enjoying this historic run from Westbrook. With his team down 13 points when he checked in early in the fourth quarter, Russell scored 16 of his 37 points in magnificent fashion, including the game winner with less than five seconds left. He also made key defensive plays late to go along with his offensive explosion.

Westbrook ‘s heroics, or “clutch-ness” if you will, have won the Thunder games that they probably shouldn’t have. He is doing MVP type things night in and night out, whatever takes for the win. The season is long, but it is nice to see Westbrook is somehow still able to make these types of plays this late in the season. Enjoy these heroics, as it could also lead to some wins in the playoffs that the Thunder probably should not get, if it wasn’t for Russell.

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MVP Or Not, Westbrook’s Season Is Special

Russell Westbrook has bigger things to worry about than winning MVP.

His season has been nothing short of spectacular. Shoot, Westbrook is having arguably the greatest season in NBA history.

He has the Thunder in position for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs after losing a top 5 player in the world. He’s making 2.3 threes a night and shooting 33.4 percent from deep, both career-high’s. He leads the league in scoring and still averages double-digit assists.

And then there’s the triple-doubles. 37 of them, so far, to be exact. Westbrook has had as many triple-doubles this season as he did his first eight combined. His numbers match Oscar Robertson’s 1961-62 season that saw Robertson get 41 triple-doubles in a quite different league. There were only 10 teams and the pace of play was almost twice as fast as today’s game.

Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double over an entire season. Westbrook is nine games away from accomplishing the same feat. Westbrook is averaging 31.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.4 assists, all career-high’s. He needs 52 rebounds (5.8 a game) and 62 assists (6.9) over the last nine games to join history with Robertson.

Off the floor, Westbrook recently opened his 10th Russell’s Reading Room, a project Westbrook is doing to help kids across Oklahoma City have books to read in schools. Westbrook and his wife, Nina, are expecting their first child in May. Little Westbrook will probably have a scholarship offer from UCLA when he is born; both his parents were Bruins’ basketball stars.

Westbrook is continuously involved in the community with his “Why Not?” foundation. From the “Why Not?” bowling events to Christmas and Thanksgiving events in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, Westbrook’s work off the floor will accumulate to more than anything his on the floor accomplishments could.

But his floor accomplishments aren’t too shabby this season. He’s right in the thick of the MVP race with former teammate James Harden and superstars LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. He’s taken the Thunder, whom some counted out when Kevin Durant left, and has them in the thick of the playoff race. Westbrook has hit countless winning shots throughout the season. He’s scored 58 points one night, dished out 22 assists on another and annihilated backboards across the country. Furthermore, Westbrook is having one of the greatest seasons in history. So, why wouldn’t he win MVP.

Whether he wins it, it doesn’t matter to Westbrook. Westbrook wants to win and have fun. And he’s doing it. The Thunder clinched their eighth straight winning season after Westbrook’s game-winning shot Monday night. Additionally, the Thunder have a chance to win 50 games for the sixth time in Westbrook’s nine seasons. The three he didn’t get to 50 wins were his rookie season, the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season (47) and the season Thunder players had a plethora of injuries (45). Westbrook’s leadership ability is unseen in today’s NBA.

Few expected Westbrook and the Thunder to be in the position they are today. The Thunder still have a chance to get the fourth seed in the playoffs. But it doesn’t matter if Westbrook wins the award; he’s going to give 100 percent every night and have fun playing basketball. If he doesn’t win the MVP, he will continue to play every game like its his last until his jersey is hanging in the rafters. This season is already a success for Westbrook, MVP or not.

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Mavs Meltdown! (3-27-17)

  • Here’s to a good clean game.
  • Maybe Cuban can reiterate that Westbrook is not a superstar, he is 5th in his mvp voting and Russ goes off for a 50 point triple double in a blowout win.
  • I’m predicting a win tonight
  • is there anyone in OKC’s rotation that is not big..
  • I’m so F* sick of JJB/Devin selfish basketball.
  • stop passing Dirk and take some shots
  • Mavs kept the Thunder from scoring for almost 6 minutes there in the 2nd quarter!
  • McDermott is such a bust.
  • How bad Doug McDermott’s defense is I wonder
  • OKC needs to drop that mutton chop guy. I haven’t seen him do a single thing that didn’t look awful.
  • Westbrook’s attitude kills the Thunder.
  • Why are we winning and by so much too?
  • wow up 13 with no seth!
  • snow is melting. soon there will be leaves and playoffs
  • I thought Oldadipo couldn’t shoot.
  • Damn Steven Adams is a monster. He looks like an old school center who can play in this new era.
  • The Thunder spent last night trying to chase the Rockets up and down the court. It’s showing. This is another one in the W column.
  • We own this team. It’s a W tonight.
  • wow westbrik needs 2 more assists for another trpl-dbl
  • Can we play OKC every game?
  • Watchin this Westbrook one assist short of a triple double show is amusing. Three failed assists since he came back in.
  • I hate our front office
  • stupid WIN, stupid Org…..
  • if noel can start dunking on oklahoma it’s over
  • shut up, doug mcdermott
  • lets go refs
  • let’s have a few overtimes..
  • How many minutes has Wes played tonight? Dude looks like he’s gassed!
  • If we’re going to win, lets win with our young guys.
  • we will win this… its gonna be dirk time
  • thanks tank?!
  • Gonna lose this one.
  • Jesus christ Barnes has been horrendous.
  • first time as Mavs fan want to lose the game…..
  • PLEASE, LOSE MAVERICKS, LOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Finally, a chance to lose..
  • YESSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111
  • Team Tank lives….
  • dirk sitting in last 13 seconds. tank is clear and clean
  • fk you secaucus new jersey
  • Refs win
  • TEAM TANK
  • completely scripted last 2 mins of basketball…
  • Who was that dissing Westbrook??? Looks pretty good to me.
  • I FEEL SO DISGUSTING RIGHT NOW. WE BETTER LAND A SUPERSTAR
  • Russ is such a boss. **** yeah. MVP. **** this stupid organisation. Russ to the rescue.
  • Can’t say I’m mad.
  • The NBA disgusts me.
  • BELIEVE!! Thank you Westbrook
  • That was such a trash loss.
  • That officiating was a disgrace. I will take the loss though.
  • Great tank
  • I can’t watch so I checked box score seriously expecting to win and we lost by one!! I checked in the 4th we were up 9..
  • The coaching by Rick Carlisle was genius for a team needing a loss. His refusal to double-team the ball to get it out of Westbrook’s hands at the end of the game was genius. The same strategy worked against Phoenix with Booker.
  • That’d be so crazy if Carlisle planned the last 3 minutes as a tank move.
  • Fun Game to watch and it feels like a win. But we got the L and i its good for us
  • Man, what a weird, f’d-up season.
  • what the hell happened? I closed my screen with 3:40 remaining to catch up with a friend with Mavs leading by 13 and then i see the final score. what happened??
  • Seems like Russell Westbrook happened
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