Thunder Links – March 26, 2012

Kevin Durant almost ended up at North Carolina, not Texas. Durant had decided on North Carolina, but at the last minute, (North Carolina coach Roy) Williams made a brain-numbing decision with his lone remaining ride,” Feinberg said. “He tabled Durant and chose Brandan Wright instead. Think Roy regrets that one? Durant landed on his feet, choosing wisely. One of the important reasons for Texas was its great strength and conditioning coach, Todd Wright. (Cont…)

Conflicting reports on Derek Fisher’s contract. According to HoopsWorld, Derek Fisher will make $395,417 from the Thunder after signing as an unrestricted free agent last Wednesday. However, during OKC’s 103-87 victory at home against the Miami Heat on Sunday night, ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted: “Tidbit to enhance your Heat-OKC viewing: Sources briefed on deal say Derek Fisher’s rest-of-season contract with Thunder is for $2.3 million.” (Cont…)

KD over Lebron for the MVP? NBA’s Sekou Smith discusses it. That shadow boxing routine LeBron James and Dwyane Wadedid before Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder might have been more appropriate had James and Kevin Durant done it. Well, Durant showed up and showed out — in what, for most of the night, was truly a head-to-head matchup James. The Heat star, on the other hand, continued the struggles that have plagued him the past week and a half. He finished with a pedestrian-by-his-standards 17 points, seven assists, four turnovers and three rebounds. One game does not a MVP make, but if you are trying to find ways to separate the two of them, head-to-head competition is a great place to start. And Durant dominated this matchup. (Cont…)

KD and company are the best in the West. In a game allegedly pitting two title contenders against each other, it looked like both teams had different goals in mind. The Thunder came out aggressive, assertive, not looking only to win and gain an advantage over the Heat in the standings, but dominate them all night long. The Miami Heat looked like a bunch of guys who can’t wait to get out of dodge and get this road trip. (Cont…)

Aggrey Sam evaluates the West Contenders. OKC is the best. Two-time reigning NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant’s ability to score one-on-one against any competition was certainly illuminated, as he took on LeBron James, regarded as one of the league’s top individual defenders and not only scored at will, but appeared to sap James’ energy on the other end of the floor. Meanwhile, All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook didn’t have one of his recent high-scoring games, but was a solid distributor, providing opportunities for defensive-oriented inside players Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, while sixth-man extraordinaire James Harden also picked up the slack. (Cont…)

OKC Bigs kick the Heat, and writers eat crow Let us be the first to snack on the sautéed crow that comes along with snap reactions of that sort. Thunder bigs Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka had spectacular performances in Sunday’s statement win over the Heat, dominating the paint on both ends of the floor as the Heat’s bigs struggled to match their effort, intensity and production. Ibaka scored 19 points and Perkins 16, shooting a combined 16-for-21 from the floor. Ibaka grabbed 10 rebounds, Perkins six as they imposed their will around the basket all game long. Chris Bosh,Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony were simply no match for them on the big stage (or as big as the regular season stage can get). (Cont…)

If you forgot, Perkins kicked Wade in the face (on accident, I think). I mean, Kendrick Perkins’ right foot definitely hit the face of Dwyane Wade after this fourth-quarter dunk during the Oklahoma City Thunder’s convincing 103-87 primetime win over the visiting Miami Heat. On that score, we can certainly all agree. So if your definition of a kick is “when one person’s foot makes contact with another person’s body, especially in an adversarial situation/environment,” then sure, this could be characterized as a kick. Judging by his reaction to the play, it seems fair to say that Wade views it that way; as someone whose face thankfully (thus far) has remained untouched by Kendrick Perkins’ feet, it probably wouldn’t be fair for me to say that Dwyane’s feelings are invalid. (Cont…)

Non-Thunder news to mention, worth it though. Lebron is becoming harder to dislike. But before you bring out the torches and pitchforks, you might want to hear this story about LeBron, a layover in Oklahoma City and a run-in with some servicemen. Refueling a massive airplane takes time, so according to an airport worker who witnessed the entire scene, the players got off the jet and went inside the general aviation terminal at Will Rogers World Airport. Some lounged in chairs. Others stretched their legs. Most stayed in their own little world. Not LeBron. He noticed a couple of uniformed military personnel approach the team’s security person. Unbeknown to him, about a dozen helicopters were stopped there for fuel as well. There were Blackhawks and Apaches and Chinooks, all on long-distance flights. Will Rogers happened to be their refueling stop. (Cont…)

Lebron & KD had intense workouts this summer. For five days last summer, the two NBA superstars came together for one of the most grueling workout routines they have experienced in their careers. With only a few weeks before the playoffs, James is crediting those grueling workouts for contributing to one of the best seasons of his career. “Monday through Friday, twice a day, and it was one of the toughest weeks that we’ve both had as far as workouts,” James said. “But it was some great work, and we got a lot out of it.”  (Cont…)

Mayberry says Collison will be huge in a Finals match up with Miami. With all the star power on both teams, and the highlight potential, it’s Collison’s ability to draw charges that could shape the complexion of a playoff series. With the Thunder having him as its last line of defense, Collison can erase mistakes out on the perimeter by stepping in and taking a charges on the Heat’s wing players. He showed it tonight. (Cont…)

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