Tag - Monday

Here’s why Carmelo Anthony skipped out

Carmelo Anthony skipped out on the media after Oklahoma City’s 116-103 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. It’s rare for a player to do and to happen after a loss can signal up warning signs from the locker room. However, Anthony set the record straight on Monday at practice.

“I was facetiming with my son,” Anthony said.

Currently, Anthony’s estranged wife La La and his son Kiyan, both are still residing in New York City. So, it’s understandable that Anthony would want to take time when he got a chance, and at a decent hour as New York City is an hour ahead of Oklahoma City, to talk to his son. Especially with it being a school night.

“I skipped out on you guys yesterday, I apologize,” Anthony said.



La La has said Anthony is an incredible dad, saying “they have an incredible bond, and Melo is an incredible dad. They’re always on FaceTime or on the phone planning their next trip.”

Anthony will get a chance to spend time with his son Saturday. Oklahoma City will be in New York to play the Knicks on Saturday night and don’t play again until Monday. They’ll get Sunday off for a back-to-back played on Friday and Saturday. It’s not impossible to think Anthony will stay in New York City on Saturday night to spend time with his family.

In his first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anthony is averaging 18.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 32 minutes per game.

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Not time to panic… yet

Alarms are going off, but not time to panic yet

While most of the time we don’t write these sunshine pumping pieces saying HOLD ON. YOU CAN DO IT. I do want to point out that it may not be time to panic… yet.

When I say yet, I mean, despite being approximately 30 percent through the season, the Thunder are only 3½ games out of fourth place in the Western Conference. That’s really a short win streak and the Thunder are back in it.

A couple of things I look at when I’m sitting here trying to think of why I should tell you not to panic and the first thing I immediately think of is injury. Sure, they’re inevitable. Unless you’re super lucky (see Thunder’s run to the finals), you’re going to have players get hurt. However, with the what happened this week, two of the three losses this week were with starters out. The Thunder definitely missed George in the loss to the Nets. Against Charlotte, the best perimeter defender on the team was hurt and it led to the Hornets making 52 percent of their threes.


If the Thunder are fully healthy, those games probably flip the script and Oklahoma City is sitting above .500 and fifth in the West. That’s how close things are right now in the Western Conference.

The offense sucks but you still have Russell Westbrook. He’s starting to revert to “Let Westbrook be Westbrook” form. However, he’s still not up to his old speed. He’s career low numbers and those are turning around. While they’re not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, the reigning MVP winner will figure this out and throw out a couple straight weeks of spectacular play that will remind everyone of why he’s that good and why he won the award last season.

At this point, some of the issues have to be mental. We’re seeing frustrations come out through Carmelo Anthony leaving before press availability last night. We’re seeing Westbrook revert back to short, curt answers. At least this is showing they care in some ways. While Paul George says this isn’t the team they should be because of all the talent, the Thunder know if they don’t fix things, the season will go down the toilet.

However, this team really just needs a confidence booster. A big win over someone once again. If the Thunder can head into Monday’s game with the Denver Nuggets on a three-game win streak, all of these issues will seem as if it was a distant nightmare.

If they go into Denver 1-2 or heaven forbid, a three-game losing streak, it’ll be time to press that panic button and figure out some drastic moves.

There are 11 games remaining until 2018. The most important 11 games in recent history. Oklahoma City has to find some momentum, going 8-3, 7-4 or a preferable 9-2 over that stretch. Of those 11 games, seven are at the Peake. Three against divisional foes and one against the Rockets. The rest should find Oklahoma City to be heavily favored in. There are some –should be– gimme wins from Atlanta and Denver in Oklahoma City.

11 games. Find away. Fix this season. Save someone’s job.

Is it time to panic?

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Third quarter, Hornets beat the Thunder

In one fleeting moment, Russell Westbrook dunked on the head of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Thunder were tied up with the Charlotte Hornets. However, minuets later, the Thunder were eyeballing a double-digit deficit, not able to look back.

Charlotte used a 40-point third quarter to blow out the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-103 on Monday night.

Oklahoma City now has lost three straight games to the Hornets, all by double digits.

“For the talent we have, this isn’t where we want to be,” Paul George said.

Charlotte was relatively in control all evening long, nailing threes and moving the ball well. The Thunder really had no answer with the team’s best defender, Andre Roberson, out with an ankle injury. Charlotte shot 7-of-10 from three-point range in the third quarter, leading to an 18-point advantage in the quarter alone.

“Certainly that quarter was not indicative of who we have been,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said.

All-in-all, Charlotte went on a 22-2 run over the final, essentially six minutes of the third quarter.

Charlotte had six players in double figures and seven with at least eight points. Dwight Howard led the Hornets with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

“What’s crazy, as this may sound, I really, really, really was excited about the way we played offense tonight,” Donovan said. “I really was.”



Oklahoma City (12-14)played the catch up game early and often. It started as the Hornets went up 19-7 with 7:15 remaining in the first quarter. While the Thunder made a run to get back into it, the Hornets did enough to keep the Thunder at bay.

Before tonight’s game, Charlotte (10-16) had lost eight straight road games and were 1-10 on the road.

Westbrook would power Oklahoma City to a 46-43 lead late in the second quarter,but a 9-6 close out for the Hornets saw a tied halftime score at 52-all.

Westbrook threw down a monster dunk on the head of Kidd-Gilchrist, tying the game up at 66-66 with 5:56 left in the third quarter and then all hell broke loose.

Mo Williams drained a three-pointer. Kidd-Gilchrist hit the jumper and then Alex Abrines fouled back-to-back three-point shooters. The next thing you know, the Hornets were on a 13-0 run. The lead ballooned to as many as 20 in the contest.

“I feel like our guys always put forth a good effort,” Donovan said. “For me, there’s times when it’s not going well, you kinda gotta raise up the energy.”

Of course Oklahoma City made a run, cutting it to 11 but that was really false hope. Charlotte pushed it out to a 15-point lead with two minutes to go in the game, icing any real Thunder come back.

Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting. He was only 1-of-2 from three, which is signficantly lower than what he shot, in terms of attempts, compared to Sunday night’s game.

Oklahoma City will now go back on the road and play three games in four nights. They’ll be in Indiana on Wednesday night night. Then, they’ll play at Philadelphia on Friday and at New York on Saturday.

Keys to the Game

Jeremy Lamb: F

Jeremy Lamb was a game best plus-20. He was solid on the defensive side and hit big shots when the Hornets needed it. While his efficiency is lacking, as it always will, he was there for the Hornets tonight.

Bench: F

The bench only scored 19 points tonight. They were 6-of-22 from the floor. While Raymond Felton had been pretty solid all season long, he struggled tonight. Felton shot only 1-of-10 tonight from the floor, nailing a three. Bench has to be better.

Free throws: A+

Oklahoma City shot their best at the line tonight. Their lone miss came in the second quarter as Steven Adams rattled a ball in and out. The Thunder made 24-of-25 shots at the free throw line tonight. This should be a staple for the Thunder. Look at Westbrook who went 9-of-9 at the line tonight.

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Career night for Abrines as OKC survives OT

Alex Abrines scored a career high 20 points starting in place of Paul George as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies 102-101 in overtime on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Russell Westbrook was fouled with 4.4 seconds left in overtime, making both free throws to give Oklahoma City the victory.

Abrines hit big three after big three, nailing down five threes in the contentious game, which was a career high.

Oklahoma City now has won four of their last five games, improving to 12-13 on the season.

“It’s tough to win in this building.,” Westbrook said. “They still can play well here, so it’s a good win for us.”

It’s also Oklahoma City’s first road win since beating Milwaukee on Oct. 31.

More random things: It’s also Oklahoma City’s second largest comeback. The Thunder came back from 21 down at Orlando last year on March 29, 2017.

The road to a 20-point comeback starts with the other team nailing shots and the Thunder not defending. Those two things came up big. Tyreke Evans and the Grizzlies were popping threes as if they were the Golden State Warriors. Memphis built a 34-19 lead after the first quarter.



In overtime, the Grizzlies built a 98-95 lead with 2:26 remaining, but Alex Abrines nailed a three to equal the game up at 98-98.

Westbrook drove through the lane, hitting a lay up and pulling the Thunder within one with 13 seconds remaining.

Once again, free throws helped the Thunder tonight. JaMychal Green missed two free throws, leading to the Thunder’s victory.

The Grizzlies would continue piling it on the Thunder, taking a 50-30 lead with 5:08 left in the second quarter. It appeared a team that had lost 13 of their last 14 games and 16 of their last 19 games were going to run away from the Thunder. However, that’s when the Thunder decided to get back into the game.

Oklahoma City would go on a 13-0 run, cutting the deficit down the 50-43 with 1:38 left until halftime.

Memphis would lead 57-46 at halftime.

Oklahoma City would open the second half on an 18-6 run, taking their first lead at 64-63 lead with 4:24 left in the quarter. From there on out, the Grizzlies and the Thunder would ride the seesaw, going back and forth. Neither team would have more than a five-point lead.

The Thunder took a 67-66 lead after the third quarter.

Carmelo Anthony tipped in a missed bucket with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter, giving the Thunder a 91-88 lead.

Anthony had an opportunity to give the Thunder a three-point lead but missed the front end of two free throws. Memphis would one up the Thunder, missing 2-of-4 free throws in the final seconds. The free throws tied the game up at 92-all.

 

Westbrook, who was 7-of-29 shooting, also went 1-of- from three-point range. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 14 assists for his eighth triple-double of the season. Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams led the Thunder with 21 points and nine rebounds each.

Oklahoma City returns home for a showdown with the Charlotte Hornets on Monday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and we’ll have your coverage all over your social media and here.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Turnovers: A

Oklahoma City only turned it over 10 times. They did a quality job of taking care of the ball against a team that was getting hot from three. The Thunder only had five turnovers in the second half and overtime. They also were good in only allowing 10 points off those turnovers.

Bench: B

While the bench scoring was really low, only 18 points, but it was in the manner they would score. Oklahoma City’s Raymond Felton came on hot when it mattered the most. Finding Josh Huestis for three, nailing back-to-back jumpers and then finding Huestis for a cutter, the Thunder held their largest margin at a five-point advantage

Free Throws: F

Oklahoma City finished the game 18-of-31 from the free throw line and once again an abysmal free throw performance almost cost the Thunder a victory. Anthony and Westbrook finished a combined 10-of-16 at the free throw line. They want to be superstars and leaders of their teams, they have to make the free throws.

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Thunder Game Day No. 23: vs. Utah Jazz

Oklahoma City Thunder (10-12, 8-3 home) vs. Utah Jazz (13-11, 2-7 away)

Tuesday, Dec. 5 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)

Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 7-point favorite. The over/under is 197.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder come into tonight’s contest with a two-game win streak. It’s a super small win streak but it’s still one, I guess. Oklahoma City will put that on the line tonight against arguably the hottest team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz.
  • The Jazz come into tonight’s game fresh off a 47-point (not a typo) win over the Washington Wizards. Rudy Gobert returned to the line up and the Jazz looked down right scary in the victory.
  • Oklahoma City and Utah have met once this season, an nine-point Utah win, in the second game of the year. Oklahoma City trailed by a lot that night and closed to within five but could not get any closer.
  • This is the last game of a three-game home stand before Oklahoma City hits the road for two weeks. The Thunder’s next five of six are all on the road. So, it’s imperative the Thunder start off strong here with a win.

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).

SCOUTING THE Jazz

  • The Utah Jazz are 13-11 on the season, seventh in the Western Conference.
  • Utah has won six in a row, the third largest win streak currently in the association.
  • In their last 10 games, Utah is 7-3.
  • In their last game, the Utah Jazz beat the Washington Wizards 116-69.
  • When Utah and Oklahoma City for the first time on Oct. 21, the Jazz won 96-87.
  • Against the Jazz, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 103-78 all-time.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder are 24-12 against Utah.
  • When games are played at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City is 15-2 all-time against Utah.
  • The Thunder have won 12 straight home games against Utah. They have not lost to the Jazz at home since Halloween 2010.
  • Oklahoma City is 7-3 against Utah in their last 10 games.
  • Injury Report:
    Joe Johnson (wrist) is out.
    Dante Exum (shoulder) is out.
    Rodney Hood (ankle) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Utah came on Feb. 14, 2012, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 111-85 (26-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. Utah occurred during a 99-120 loss on Oct. 31, 2010.

NEW FACES

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder added a bunch of new faces this year.
  • Paul George was acquired on June 30 for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.
  • Carmelo Anthony joins the Thunder after Oklahoma City sent Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick to the Knicks for Anthony.
  • Oklahoma City also signed Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson via free agency.
  • Terrance Ferguson was drafted in the first round out of Australia.
  • Oklahoma City also added PJ Dozier, undrafted rookie out of South Carolina to a two-way deal.

Injury Report

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy for tonight’s game.

Next Up

  • Oklahoma City travels down to Mexico City for a one-game showdown with the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
  • Then, the Thunder travel to Memphis to play the Grizzlies on Saturday night.
  • Oklahoma City splits up the mini-road trip with a single game at home vs. the Hornets on Monday, Dec. 11.

Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

The Thunder are 8-2 when they out rebound their opponent. That’s something Oklahoma City is going to need to do tonight if they’re going to steal a win away from the pesky Jazz. While Utah may not be the best rebounding team in the association, they do a good job of keeping opponents off the offensive glass. The Thunder need to win this tonight.

Points off turnovers

The top two teams in points in turnovers are meeting tonight. Oklahoma City is No. 1 and Utah is No. 2. In their first meeting the turnovers were similar but it was the Jazz who found their way into transition and scored more on the turnovers. Oklahoma City has to win this battle tonight.

Get to the line

The Thunder are middle of the league in attempts. However, when you look over the last five games (OKC is 2-3 in those games) the Thunder are attempting less than 19 attempts per game and are 20th in the league over that span. The Oklahoma City Thunder need to get to the line early and often to win this one.

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How hot is Billy Donovan’s seat?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are riding the struggle bus and for some the first place blame goes to is the head coach. Even Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said at practice on Monday, he’s to blame (along with others). While everyone blames Donovan for the inefficiencies the Thunder have faced this season, how hot is Donovan’s seat?

Before the firing of Earl Watson three games into this season, no NBA head coach had been fired since May 2016, a streak of 533 days. He was the first coach to be fired in season since Derek Fisher was fired from the Knicks job in Feb 2016. There had been his weird continuity with organizational leadership and coaching stability. However, that’s out the window. Since the start of the season, two coaches have been fired (Fizdale Memphis and Watson Phoenix). There might be more on the way (see: Fred Hoiberg Chicago and Budenholzer Atlanta).

The NBA is so much different than the NFL. Most NFL coaches are fired on what they call “Black Monday.” The NBA owners react without care of public perception. They strike without justifying their terminations. The stability in which we’ve seen in the last year or so is really an anomaly of it all. In the last 10 seasons, there have been nine Coach of the Year winners (Poppovich won twice). Five have been fired. Not resigned. Fired. So, this is truly a league of what have you done for me lately.

With David Fizdale gone in Memphis, many in Oklahoma City perked up an eye, maybe calling for him to come to Oklahoma City. That’s not happening. Well, at least in mid-season. We’re at the point in the season, which is any point past training camp through the end of the regular season, to where no organization in their right mind would bring in an outside coach. They would just promote an assistant to an interim position.

So, if the Thunder were going to can Donovan, it would be assumed that Mo Cheeks, the only coach on the staff with prior head coaching experience to step in and take the reigns. Cheeks has won over 600 games and was fired in Detroit for one season after going 21-29. The NBA sometimes doesn’t make any sense.

However, what does make sense is the Thunder front office. They’re known for their patience and their timing. They waited until the end of the season to fire Scott Brooks, despite still winning 45 games. They did dismiss PJ Carlesimo after only 13 games, when the Thunder started 1-12. Presti said at the time of the Carlesimo firing: “There’s accountability for everybody involved — players, coaches, myself and anyone involved with our basketball team. We understand that.”

Firing a coach may not always lead to results. The last five coaches in season (not counting Fizdale) have seen difference of success. Jay Triano, who stepped in for the fire Earl Watson in Phoenix is 7-11 during his tenure this season. Which is nice considering the Suns started out 0-3, losing by massive margins. However, Phoenix is only 3-7 in their last 10 games.

When Derek Fisher was let go by the All-Star break in 2016, Kurt Rambis stepped in and went 5-12 to start his campaign. He finished an abysmal 9-19.

The Rockets let hall of fame player, Kevin McHale, go 11 games into the season that same year. Houston was 4-7 at the time. J.B. Bickerstaff, the same guy who’s been named interim in Memphis, was named interim in Houston. Bickerstaff went 37-34 over his time in Houston that season.

Not everyone is fired for performance issues. Mike Malone was fired 24 games into the 2014-15 season. Sacramento would go on in the middle of the season to lose 12 of 13 games under Tyrone Corbin, former Utah Jazz head coach.

Mike Brown has been fired twice, despite turning out excellent resumes. He won 41 games in the strike shorten season with Los Angeles. However, the Laker’s management cited lack of patience as a reason why they canned the former Cavs coach. Before that, Cleveland let him go as LeBron bolted for Miami despite him winning 66 and 61 games the previous two seasons. Mike D’Antoni replaced Brown, going 40-32 for the rest of the season as that was the last time the Lakers made the playoffs.

So, there are tons of reasons why coaches get fired. Donovan falls under the lack of performance one. However, the chances of Donovan getting canned mid-season are slim. The Thunder with all of the up in the air issues with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, you cannot risk firing a coach and forcing a start over of sorts with players who might not want to play for an uncertain coach.

Then again, they could and I could have typed all of this for nothing.

 

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Five Thoughts 11-15-17 (Thunder 92, Bulls 79)

1. I thought the Thunder did a really nice job tonight of TRYING to respect the game and take the Bulls seriously. However, that ultimately proved impossible. I get it. I tried too. Again, impossible though. As you might imagine considering I operate this blog for free and completely for my own kicks, I’m a basketball/Thunder nerd. But not even I could fake it tonight: that was boring as hell. My God, I started watching the clock about midway through the first quarter. The Thunder came out and played hard early on, completely stifling a pathetic opponent, but as the game progressed, it just wasn’t realistic to maintain 100% focus. They were bored. They did what they needed to do. They took a big lead early, never allowed the Bulls to threaten, and they even coveted the spread (albeit barely). Along the way they also took a nap, as did I.

2. Due to the above, my analysis for this game is neutral. I won’t give them any real credit for their win and I won’t deduct anything for some of their more ugly moments. It is very hard to eliminate human nature from the game. They knew they could win this game even giving a D+ effort and in those cases it is difficult to then show up with your A+ game. I think they likely dropped a C+ and called it an easy night. That’s fine. Again, they didn’t mess around to a point where the game was ever in doubt so it didn’t bother me. It’s a long, long season– you can’t go balls to the wall every night. Pacing yourself is fine. The Bulls are atrocious. It would almost be rude to give 100% effort against them. The Thunder have played them twice and destroyed them both times. Whatever.

3. My only actual takeaway from this game would be to point out that Russ is getting off to very slow starts lately. Even last year as he was rewriting the record books he often started more methodically. His aim was often to get others involved early and then go into bananas mode as the game wore on. But he was still dominating the flow. This year, it’s more of a struggle early in games. As a matter of fact, the offense didn’t flow well at all tonight until Felton relieved him late in the first quarter. That is precisely when things opened up and the Thunder calmed down a bit and started getting better shots. The defense was great all around, but the offense was ugly– until the switch at PG. Then, once he came back in I thought Russ played quite well and had his hands all over the game. They extended the lead to an insurmountable level and Russ was a big part of that. But I do think it is worth noting that he seems a bit off at the start of games right now. It isn’t anything I’m worried about, likely just part of the feeling out process, but it is something that could hurt them against better teams if it causes them to fall behind.

4. There was some frustration and tension after the four game losing streak and 4-7 start. This week at home was just what the doctored ordered. You don’t often get weeks like this. The Thunder were home for 7 full days. From Friday through Thursday they were in OKC, playing three games; all being games they should have won– two of them against teams EVERYONE should beat. It was a good time for a breather and a good time to get some extra practice, extra rest, and low stress minutes. I’m not going ga-ga over the fact that they went 3-0 this week and by no means do I think everything is fixed or that they’ve worked out all the kinks. But things did look better. PG13 was quiet tonight, but flashed big time in the first two wins. And you can’t discount that they didn’t have Adams for any of the three games and still did just fine. Hopefully this calmed everyone down and allows them to focus on getting better. Aside from a few breakdowns (mostly by Russ) late in the Clippers game, their defense was fine. Offensively it was more up and down, but more guys were involved and there were more signs of movement. Most importantly, they were MUCH more patient on that end of the floor and much more aggressive.

5. Now they need to translate whatever strides they’ve made against much stiffer competition. Looks like Kawhi will still be out for the Spurs on Friday night, but as always, Pop and friends are doing their thing anyway. They lost in Minnesota tonight but otherwise they’ve been very good thus far. Aldridge is off to a hot start and Rudy Gay is playing very well. They just always do their thing and seemingly never miss a beat. It is always very difficult to win in their building and Friday night will be no exception. I think it is an important game for the Thunder. Silly to call anything a “must win” at this stage of the season (it isn’t), but it would be disappointing to win these three games and then immediately lose once the competition stiffens. They then play Monday at New Orleans before their home date with the Dubs the night before Thanksgiving. They need to win at least one of these next two on the road. It would obviously be preferable to get both and enter that game against Golden State with some real momentum.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.

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Another triple-double, another win

Sometimes you just need a big win. You need one where you can run up the score and enjoy yourself. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, that happened on Saturday night. The Thunder spanked the Chicago Bulls … at the United Center on Saturday, Oct. 28.

The Thunder improved to 3-3 on the season. Oklahoma City is averaging 23.3 points per game in victories this season.

Russell Westbrook finished with 12 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds. He now has a triple-double against every NBA team Westbrook has played against. The only one remaining is the Thunder, because you know you can’t triple-double on your own team. Leave it to Westbrook to try.

Oklahoma City jumped on the Bulls early and often. A slew of three-pointers gave Oklahoma City an early 15-3 lead. While Chicago closed to within 26-23, the Thunder really laid it on in the second quarter. Oklahoma City held Chicago to only eight points in the frame, outscoring the Bulls 31-8.

Oklahoma City led 50-31 at the break.

The Thunder didn’t stop there. They pushed their lead 30 point a couple of times.

It was so bad at one point, Jerami Grant raced down the floor for a dunk and every Bull’s player stopped running and let Grant dunk away. They had fully checked out.

Dakari Johnson scored and Abrines drained treys in the fourth quarter, keeping the Bulls at as far of an arm’s length as you can.

The Thunder nailed 13 three-pointers, led by Carmelo Anthony’s five makes. it’s the second most in Thunder history, tying a multitude of players. Anthony finished with a game high 21 points and pulled down five rebounds.

Anthony is the first Thunder player to score 20 or more in his first six games with the team.

Oklahoma City’s bench, led by Raymond Felton, scored 31 points on 31 makes. While not super efficient it definitely finished the job.

The Thunder are off on Sunday and Monday. They’ll welcome Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks to a showdown in Milwaukee on Halloween night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Keys to the Game

Get Russ a triple-double: A+

While a real key isn’t getting Westbrook his elusive triple-double, it’s not exactly a coincidence the Thunder are 3-0 when Westbrook triple-doubles. Westbrook did it easily and in 25 minutes. It gave him the ability to rest in the fourth quarter.

Dominate the paint: A+

The Thunder out-rebounded and truly dominated the paint tonight. The Thunder had five more rebounds and outscored the Bulls in the paint by 20 points. That’s an A+ performance tonight by the Thunder bigs.

Stomp on them: A+

Last night against the T-Wolves, Oklahoma City blew some leads. However, the Thunder put their foot on the gas and never looked back. While it may be “just” the Bulls, they still took care of business tonight. That’s really all you ask for out of a team for four quarters.

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I can feel it coming in the air

 

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord

And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lord

Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord” – Phil Collins (In The Air Tonight)

There is an energy in the air that was missing this time last year, and I can feel it 10,516 miles away, and I love it.

12 months ago the Thunder at this point of the season was preparing for an uphill battle without one of its longtime soldiers. That is irrelevant now, as we’re embarking on a new adventure. We have new soldiers to go to war with, and you bet your tail we’re going to fight, and with our leader, you’re going to need to kill him to stop him, and he has only one target in his sight.

Sam Presti restocked the weapon’s vault with some heavy artillery adding Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Patrick Patterson. Last year was a one-man wrecking crew that won 47 games and a first-round exit in the playoffs. Every position Oklahoma City needed to fix they did, and now Russell Westbrook is not a one-man wrecking crew now he’s the leader of a three-headed beast.

The Thunder is not just a team with three all-stars it has some solid support to go along with there All-Stars.

Steven Adams looks to be back to his best after last season were he averaged 11 points on 57 percent shooting on an average of 8.2 shots a game with 7.7 rebounds per game. Adams took a back seat to the greatness of Westbrook last season but if you watched any of the Thunders preseason games, this preseason Adams looks to be a solid piece of the puzzle on offense and defense that seems to fit quite well with the top tier talent.

Andre Roberson is going to be an integral part of this puzzle. Roberson’s elite perimeter defending is going to be essential to this teams success. It is vital that he can develop something on offense to make him more than just a defensive ace and command respect on the offensive side of the ball from the opposition to help his teammates and not be a liability that the opposition can sag off and double team someone else.

Roberson was terrible on offense especially from behind the arc and free throw, scoring 24 percent from behind the arc and 42 percent from the free throw line. Westbrook is going to be crucial to Roberson’s development on offense Roberson could become a cutting to the basket option if Andre and Russell can build a connection in training with Westbrook’s passing ability it might just come down to Roberson’s work ethic and commitment to evolving his offensive skills.

Patterson has had a slow start to the season with after he underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee earlier in the preseason and hadn’t had an opportunity to play any minutes this preseason. When Patterson becomes available, he might just be the best addition to this team as crazy as that might seem as Presti just brought in two perennial All-Stars. Patterson shot 40 percent from the field. His 37 percent perimeter efficiency was above the league average with the Toronto Raptors. Patterson will give the Thunder consistent perimeter scoring and solid clutch time defense. Where his real value lies is in his versatility on offense with his mid-range game and around the rim.

Alex Abrines could be the most significant winner of the additions of Anthony and George. With Westbrook, Anthony and George receiving all of the defensive attention Abrines will see a considerable increase in open shots this season. After being a 38 percent shooter from three averaging three shots a game last season and 39 percent from the floor shooting on an average of five shots a game, Abrines could see them both rise into the 40 percent range with all the open shots he will get.

Jerami Grant, Terrence Ferguson, and Josh Huestis are going to be exciting young talent to watch this season. Ferguson has the highest ceiling to be a potential star. Grant and Huestis have the work ethic to be good contributors to this teams success.

Coach Billy Donovan is entering his most important season of his professional career after having a successful collegiate coaching career winning two NCAA championships with Florida. Getting everyone on this roster to buy in is essential to this team reaching any form of success. If even one player does not buy into the all in mentality the franchise has set with its offseason moves taking a risk on George and Anthony who could decide to leave at the end of this season they will find themselves out in the first round again.

Donovan needs Westbrook to be the one to display that all in mentality. After averaging 31.6 points averaging 24.0 shots a game on 42 percent shooting with 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game with a usage percentage of 41 percent that cant happen this year with George and Anthony on his team Westbrook cant have the ball in his hands 41 percent of the the time. Westbrook has shown his all in off the court signing his extension that keeps him in Oklahoma for six years now he has to prove it on the court.

This is an exciting time to be an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, and you can feel that excitement permeating in the air. This is the beginning of something great. There is going to be peaks and valleys throughout this season but you shouldn’t waiver in your belief in this team there is going to be growing pains but come playoff time this team will be raring to go strap yourselves in this is going to be a hell of a ride.

Thunder Up.

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Taylor Swift lies in congratulating Westbrook in his MVP

Russell Westbrook won the 2016-17 NBA MVP on Monday night. Then, out of no where, the Thunder posted a video of Taylor Swift, of all people, congratulating the Brodie for winning the elusive award.

You may remember back in the day, Russ was on vine and Instagram, singing some Taylor Swift.

T SWIFT …WAS ROCKINNNN LAST NIGHT!! …. @taylorswift

A post shared by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on

BAD BLOOD!!!! @taylorswift .. Banger!!!!!

A post shared by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on

So,they got Taylor to say some words on how she taught Russ how to play basketball. It’s cringe worthy at best.

All of this is fake news and it’s really a stretch by the organization to do this. I am curious on how much this cost for Taylor to do this.

“I was the one who taught you how to play basketball,” said in the video. A lie. We all know Westbrook learned from the Gods on how to ball so hard.

Swift also gives credit to Russell in return for inspiring her song “Shake It Off.” This is a surprising revelation as they’re both embattled in a lawsuit over the fact Westbrook was not given proper credit on the album. She obviously is conceding at this point.

“So essentially we have each other to thank for these careers,” Swift said.

Okay, I may be fabricating some, too. At least mine is no where near as bad as this video.

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