Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thunder edged by Los Angeles 101-98

Oklahoma City pushed the Lakers to the brink, but came up short as the Lakers win in overtime 101-98.

If you enjoy defensive basketball, this game was your cup of tea. Neither side ever looked like it got in a rhythm but it was one of the most exciting Oklahoma City games to date.

While it might not look like it, Thabo Sefolosha gets the game ball tonight. 12 points, 4 steal,s 4 rebounds, and more pressure defense on Kobe Bryant than Kobe has ever experienced. Sefolosha frustrated Kobe from the opening tip to the final whistle. Sefolosha is why the Thunder were able to hang with the Lakers. No question. His defense and improved outside shooting has more than earned his recent contract extension.

After being down by as much as 13 points in the first half, the Thunder battled back to take the lead in the third. OKC lead by as many as 4, but could never put away from the defending champs.

There are a lot of positives to take away from this game, but there are negatives that cost OKC the game. On nine second half turnovers, the Thunder scored exactly zero points. If you want to make the step into "playoff team," you have to capitalize on your opponents mistakes. As much as Thunder fans don't want to admit it, Kevin Durant had a very sub-par second half. He didn't hit a shot in the fourth quarter, or in overtime. The shots he did take are the ones that players like Kobe Bryant make. This isn't to say that KD played terribly. He had 28 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds. A solid game, but when super stars are called upon, he just fell short.

It's been said before, but Etan Thomas was the best pick up for OKC this summer. Again, Thomas was the best pick up this offseason. He brings something that Krstic simply cannot do, dominate down low. He pulls down rebounds with conviction, and changed shots the entire game. If he isn't a "dominant post presence," what is?

Moral victories are so "last season" for the Thunder. While taking the defending champs to Overtime is great, anything less than winning is a disappointment. The team must build off this close loss, and be able to close the game out next time it happens.

This Is Thunder Basketball

(Photo and stats from ESPN.com)

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thunder Thoughts: Sacramento vs Oklahoma City

Live Blog:


Kind of disappointed that Weaver is in a suit tonight.

As mentioned earlier, Thabo got a contract extension. I'm really glad that we are keeping this guy around.

The scoreboard looks amazing on TV, I can't imagine what it's like in person.

Undefeated, let's keep it that way for a few games.

Glad to see Mason and the Thunder players meeting and talking before the game. I hope we can bring that guy back after he retires. He will be a great assistant coach.

First Quarter:

First points of this season: Jeff Green for THREEEE

The chemistry between Westbrook and Durant looks to have improved this offseason.

Great early rebounding by the Thunder.

Thabo has been working on his corner 3 all off season, and it shows.

Great job defensively on Martin early in the quarter.

Westbrook is making it a point to get the ball to Krstic.

Lot's of movement in the offense so far this season.

Thunder UP early 20 – 10 after the first 6 minutes of the game. The defensive principles from the preseason are really showing right now. Let's see if they can keep it up.

Full court press out of the time-out. We didn't see much (if any) of that last season.

If Krstic is spent from the Euroleague, it isn't showing. (Would still like for him to rebound a bit more)

One of Westbrook's criticisms is his lack of a decent jump shot, he is showing off a much improved jumper right now.

Seven assists for the Thunder at the 4:15 mark.

KD's shooting is a bit dry at the moment, but he is rebounding well. And man is this guy INTENSE.

Etan Thomas is in, let's see what he can do in his first real minutes as a member of the team.

Kevin Ollie in to relieve Westbrook for a bit.

Glad to see Collison back healthy, also James Harden is on the floor for the first time.

Thomas missed a dunk...come on man. He has opened some lanes, and played solid D right now, though.

First Thunder turnover at 1:06. I respectfully agree with this!

KD is so quick, and can absolutely slice through defenses.

Last season OKC's best quarter was 39, they got that in the first quarter of the first game this season. (Thank you broadcasters) 39 – 22 at the end of the First.

Second Quarter:

KD has 10 points, Krstic has 11 to start the 2nd

James Harden gets his first professional points off a Thomas screen. Nice lil' jumper.

Sacramento is getting vocal about the refs right now.

The Kings don't have an answer for Green.

The Thunder girls have chaps now...yup...

Westbrook jumper, yes!

The Kings...well...they seem to fall down a lot.

The Thunder are playing with so much energy right now.

Offensive rebound by Thomas. That's what we need.

Westbrook 6 – 4 – 4 right now. Good line, I must say. (7:08 left)

Just two turnovers for the Thunder at 6:37...3 now, after a poor pass from Westbrook

Westbrook to Durant, you will hear that a lot in the future

This team has a lot of hustle

After passing off the drive for much of the first half, Sacramento isn't looking for Westbrook to go all the way to the hoop.

Durant and Green have 15 with 1:51 left.

If Martin doesn't get to the line, then the Kings are down by 14 more points...

Speaking of the foul line, Krstic has gotten there quite a few times in the first half.

KD is so strong when he comes to the basket. He just powers by defenders. (17 points now)

68 - 51

Halftime Thoughts:

Four OKC players in double digits.

If this is any hint at what this season is going to be like, Oklahoma City is going to be a strong contender. They are playing with intensity, and competing on every possession. While other programs may not be impressed by that, OKC let games slip away because of inactivity.

Westbrook is showing that he has improved immensely this off season. Court vision, jump shot, game speed, everything seems to have improved.

The production value of the pregame videos, and television graphics have improved a TON. Yes, I realize that they only had a month to figure it out last season. But improvement, is improvement.

The Thunder UP video and song were fine the first few times I heard them...the first few times...

Third Quarter:

Wow! Green has such a great looking shot from three point land.

Not much more that Sefolosha can do against Martin. He has had a hand in his face the whole game.

Krstic with a little baby hook, did he have that move last season? Krstic has had a great game inside, only a couple of jump shots from the big man.

Westbrook with a double double already. 10 points 10 assists (and 4 rebounds) 9:30

Desmond Mason has his first points in purple at 8:58.

Jeff Green looks to have taken his game to a new level this season. The broadcast team can't stop talking about all the little things (screens, letting plays develop, and such) he is doing right.

Sefolosha from outside, I'm really liking his new offensive game. He's really earning that new contract. (OKC 81 Sac 58)

Mason almost took out the broadcast team, trying to get corral a ball. He almost got to the second row of media people. The replay is quite awkward.

Turnovers up to 9. But they are limiting points off of those turns.

Over three minutes since the Thunder last scored.

Westbrook scores over a seven footer...yes. Westbrook looks to have slight discomfort in his knee. He is all smiles, though, which is good.

We've yet to see Livingston. Wonder why Coach Brooks has played Ollie so much.

Green gets an elbow to the nose. Takes a bit for him to get up. At least he got the charge.

It's a pity when hustle plays become turnovers (Harden jumped out of bounds to keep a ball in play, but Ollie was called for a back court violation when he grabbed the ball)

5 turns this quarter for the Thunder, same as the entire first half.

Collison is such a quality player. He doesn't put up numbers, but he is solid and knows the game. Say what you might, I enjoy watching the guy.

Only Martin has double figures for Sacramento. Tyreke Evans leads the rest of their team with 8, and he is on the bench right now with four fouls.

OKC 89 SAC 68

Fourth Quarter:

Kevin Martin is on the bench with his jersey off. The ankle is probably still hurting him.

Harden with a big three. We need that from him. The Thunder didn't have any outside shooting last season. He is having a bit of trouble fouling and in transition right now. Sefolosha comes in with hopes of stopping a hot streak from Sacramento.

The Thunder have learned how to take charges this season. There have been at least 3 in the second half.

Nocioni just can't hang with Green. When he tries to, he fouls Uncle Jeff. Big match up problems.(92 - 75)

Apparently, Oklahoma City got a huge "Thunder Drum" bass drum. Very "Rumbley"...

Big collision on a potential alley-oop. (Note: OKC doesn't have an offensive rebound in the second half. Hopefully, that has something to do with the substantial lead) Everyone is ok, though.

Martin is back in the game, by the way. Guess he just didn't feel like wearing his jersey.

Thunder in a 2.5 minute dry spell.

I am SO impressed with Jeff Green, right now. A handful of threes today. Also, OKC has had great ball movement tonight.

97 - 78

Westbrook sets a career high with 13 assists.

100 points with 4:53 left. The scoring on this team has improved dramatically!

The Kings have played very good defense against KD tonight. And he is still sitting at 23 points, that is impressive for an "off night" of shooting.

ESPN says that Livingston has a steal, but their play by play chart doesn't have his name anywhere. Can you get a steal while not being in the game?

Surprisingly, no Serge Ibaka tonight. I was looking forward to seeing him play tonight. He probably won't see much time early in the season, the preseason was just a tease.

OKC is just trying to milk the clock right now. Not much offense going on for the Thunder.

18,203 in attendance tonight. Keep those numbers up Thunder Fans. Prove that we deserve this great young team.

Final: 102 - 89

Thunder Win!

Final Thoughts:

This game was very exciting for any Thunder fan. Four players scored in double figures, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both recorded double doubles, Jeff Green just took over the low post, Krstic showed that he can have a powerful presence beneath the basket, and the list goes on.

The Thunder lead by as many as 31 points before it was able to cost to the finish. There are a lot of great things to draw from this game. However, they struggled (at times) defending the outside shot. This will, surely, improve as they get more adjusted to the defense.

Player of the Game: Russell Westbrook 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 13 assists. His improvement over the Summer has been outstanding. I can't wait to keep watching this guy develop.

If you liked what you read, this can become a regular feature of the website. Leave a comment and let me know!

This Is Thunder Basketball

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Thabo Sefolosha signed to Multiyear Deal by Oklahoma City

According to an ESPN report, the Thunder have inked their defensive stopper, Thabo Sefolosha, to a multiyear deal.

After being traded to Oklahoma City from Chicago at the Trade Deadline last season, Sefolosha swiftly emerged as the main defensive force of the Thunder. He averaged 8.5 points and 5.2 rebounds with Oklahoma City.

As of now, Sefolosha is still the Thunders starting Shooting Guard. If he can up his offensive output to compliment his defensive abilities, he should be able to keep a hold of the starting spot this season.

This Is Thunder Basketball

(Photo from ESPN.com)

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Oklahoma City: Getting our bearings

The NBA season is less than 24 hours away, and the Thunder have their first game on Wednesday night. With everything that has gone on, let's get an idea of where we are, and where we are going.

Where we are:

We finished a dismal 23 - 59. Even with the end of the season 20 - 30 record, it doesn't look good. We were a top 10 rebounding team last season, but our Point Guard of the future committed the most turnovers of anyone in the league. The Thunder are lead by one of the league's best scorers in Kevin Durant, but we were in the bottom of the league in scoring.

This season, we are one of the youngest teams in the league. Oklahoma City has an average age of 25. If our young bench doesn't get better, don't expect much improvement this season.

Where we want to be:

Kevin Durant said that his goal is to make the playoffs. The media wants to believe that it is possible for this team to get the eight seed, they haven't come that far yet. In order to make it to the playoffs, we need a number of things.

1) Consistent production from the bench.
Last season, there were no players who were able to score at will against other team second units. Look for James Harden, DJ White, or Serge Ibaka to attempt to fill this role.

2) Production in the paint.
Offensively and defensively, the interior Thunder players need to fill the stat sheet. Nenad Krstic was a great pick up last season, but he needs to learn to rebound better. Etan Thomas was a great pick up for his rebounding and shot changing abilities, but he isn't a scorer. Nick Collison was the most productive center most of last season for the Thunder. Serge Ibaka and DJ White can make significant contributions, if given the time to develop. Problem is that will be difficult for both of these players to find enough time to grow as basketball players.

3) Turnovers.
Don't give the ball away. Durant is on the brink of Super Stardom, but he averaged three turns a game. The starting five for Oklahoma City has so much potential, but, on occasion, they do everything in their power to give games to their opponents. Literally.

4) Closing games.
Surprisingly, this preseason helped move the team closer to this goal. They were able to hold off opponents in situations instead of buckling under the pressure, like last season. This goal comes from experience, keeping intensity up until the final whistle. The team has enough heart that this goal is attainable this season.

This might seem like a lot of big things for the team to worry about this season, and it is. But if a team wants to reach the playoffs, they have to do all the little things well. Here's to a great season. Thunder UP! And Go Thunder Go!

This Is Thunder Basketball

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thunder Thoughts: Oklahoma City vs Miami Heat

Picture from Yahoo Sports!

First Quarter Thoughts:

  • Etan Thomas was a good pick up. He brings a different type of center that the team was lacking. He won't get 10 – 8 every night, but he will be a solid role-player.

  • Smart move by Ibaka at the end of the quarter committing an unnecessary foul.

  • I'm a Kyle Weaver fan, but he has been forgettable this pre-season.

Second Quarter Thoughts:

  • I don't see Mullens playing in OKC much this season.

  • Please let these turnovers be a pre-season thing...

  • I'd like to see Harden get a chance to be the offensive focus. He needs that kind of exposure to get back to what he was doing during the Summer Leagues.

  • Watching the team talk to Ibaka and help explain things to him is great. Uncle Jeff needs to be with this team for a long, long time.

  • That three second violation will be a common thing for Ibaka this season. That is just how it is for players like him.

  • Krstic is a great perimeter shooter. I still don't like my center taking jump shots, though.

  • Green's three-ball is a great asset.

  • Durant has four fouls in the first half. I never thought that would happen.

  • Mullens is a Krstic-esk center. Not sure that we need two.

  • Most brought up topic this season: Shaun Livingston's knee and how he is recovering. I'm already sick of it.

  • I'm going to echo the broadcasters, but Thabo is very basketball smart.

Halftime Thoughts:

  • Oklahoma City is playing very similar to the local weather.

  • It might just be the pre-season but I hope that the replacement refs learn to swallow their whistles for KD like they do for Kobe or LeBron.

  • I know our coaches are defensively minded, and I respect that, but we need to focus on offense. Outside of a couple of players, we look lazy. You can keep your opponent to 20 points, but if you can't score 15, you still lose.

  • With all the focus on Ibaka, I hope that this isn't just extended practice before he sits on the bench for the whole season.

  • Tre Kelley will be sitting at home when the season starts.

Third Quarter Thoughts:

  • Jeff Green is a future 6th Man of the Year when we can find a dominate Power Forward. He doesn't defend down low well enough (yet), to convince me that he will always be at the 4.

  • Having Durant have a lot off fast breaks is totally ok with me.

  • The team just isn't as motivated as it was in OKC Monday. It's the pre-season, but these games are meant to encourage a larger following in Tulsa. Play like you are at the Thunder Dome.

  • Will Collison improve our rebounding? He lead our team last season, but will he make the whole unit play better? One can hope.

  • Mullens is showing a lot of hustle tonight.

  • +/- KD is an amazing player. Whenever he has the ball, you expect good things.

  • When did KD score 20 points? His scoring has been so subtle this pre-season. He is getting his points consistently, but it hasn't been a big deal.

  • Um, I just heard my coined phrase! “Thunder Triumvirate!” I'm almost positive I was the first one to say that on one of my Bleacher Report articles. I first used it in January.

Fourth Quarter Thoughts:

  • The ThunderTV announces their “Thunder Play of the Game” “Thunder Player of the Game” and other awards way too soon.

  • This is Jeff Green's game tonight. His play has been more impressive for me than anyone else for OKC.

  • First Thunder lead at the 3:04 mark.

  • This has been a statement game for Thomas. He hasn't had a huge impact offensively, but he has changed the game in the paint defensively. This is an element that OKC needs.

  • Hearing the Tulsa Thunder fans cheer for DEFENSE with 2 minutes left is great.

  • Durant has been playing with 5 fouls for the majority of the second half. That is impressive.

  • Westbrook's development this summer has been phenomenal. He plays slower, he makes better decisions, I'm loving this new look Westbrook.

  • If anyone else took some of the shots KD takes, they would be yanked. Difference is that KD can make the shot.

  • I know I've said it a lot, but the physicality of Thomas is awesome. He makes other paint players, literally, fight for position. He is quick in transition, too. Getting back to get the rebound after Westbrook's miss with 11 seconds left is a great sign. And he had can shoot free throws when needed.

  • KD with the big rebound to ice the game. It's great to see the team so excited in a pre-season game. These guys seem to genuinely enjoy the game of basketball.

  • Final Score: 96 - 91

Final Thoughts:

  • Great showing in the fourth quarter to the Tulsa fans. KD 30 points on the game, Jeff Green had 24.

  • The new media darling, Serge Ibaka, didn't have a great game tonight, but that's ok. He won't always have spectacular nights. He is a young player, it takes time.

  • OKC was out rebounded 30 – 32.

  • Westbrook had another good showing, he tallied 7 assists but recorded 4 turnovers.

  • More importantly, the Thunder caused more turns than they committed.

  • This game was boring for the first three quarters. Coach Scott Brooks ramped up the intensity in the fourth and forced the Heat to put their starters back in. Great pre-season win.

This Is Thunder Basketball

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thoughts on Oklahoma City's Training Camp

It's been awhile Thunder fans, but here's hoping that I am permanently back.

Training camp is well under way, and what does that mean? Thoughts, musings, and questions about our team.

* Rookie Guard James Harden has suffered two minor injuries so far in two days of practice. Chris Silvia at NBA.com/Thunder has kept the situation documented. On Tuesday, Harden left practice early after being poked in the eye, and today he left with a mild ankle roll. What does this mean for the Number 3 pick? Hopefully, nothing. It seems that the team has been scrimmaging a fair bit, and accidents happen.

* Harden's teammates seem to be fond of him already. These early votes of confidence will do great things for a guy getting used to the game. Of particular note:
"James gives us a shooter,” said veteran Nick Collison. "We really missed a good, knock-down perimeter shooter. I think he can become that. And he can score, slash and do other things.”

Comments like that have me very excited to see this guy in action.

* Etan Thomas is making his presence known. Thomas, a Tulsa native, is trying to make his case for a major role in this team. As can be seen in this photo from Newsok.com. Thomas is a strong "banger" type of Center, something OKC lacked last season.

* Oklahoma City has invited Ryan Bowen, Tre Kelley, Michael Ruffin, and recently Mike Harris. These four players are fighting for the Thunder's last roster spot. Whether or not GM Sam Presti will reward any of them with that coveted last spot is still a ways off.

Coach Scott Brooks is preaching defense at every practice, hopefully it will show when the pre-season starts in a week.

This Is Thunder Basketball

(Image from Yahoo Sports, and Getty images)

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Marcin Gortat to Oklahoma City?

The guys over at DailyThunder found a story in Croatia that claims Marcin Gortat talked to Nenad Krstic about the possibilities of playing with him. Here is a link to the story.

While the story has been crudely translated, at best, it brings up an intriguing possibility for Thunder fans. Gortat had a great showing during last year's playoffs, and there were rumors of him being traded to OKC.

Gortat is a solid player, and would be a great anchor for this Thunder team. His career numbers don't show much, he has been a backup for Dwight Howard his entire career, but he has the size and strength to be effective on both sides of the ball.

Do you think that Gortat will be traded to OKC? If so, when? If not, why?

This Is Thunder Basketball

(image from mtsmondo.com)

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