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12/2 Daily Links

Sixty-three minutes of NBA action can take a toll on you.  I bet the Thunder players were tired too.

What the pros are saying:

What I’m saying:

  • It really is kind of staggering as to how many times the Thunder found themselves in a hole in the 4th, and each of the OT’s.  What I really liked was the heightened concentration that resulted.  They were very impatient at the beginning of the game, but slowed down and focused when it mattered the most.  And nobody had greater concentration than Jeff Green and his three free throws at the end of the 2nd OT.  Pure ice.
  • Very interesting quote in Sheridan’s piece:
    “Our coaches did a good job of warning us what play they might run, and that’s what they ran and we played it well. We knew that play was coming, and we stopped it” – Russell Westbrook

    If that’s true, then WOW, that’s some pretty amazing game preparation and coaching by Brooks.  Because if you watch the play break down, Westbrook clearly sags off of Farmar as he’s driving to the rim.  Westbrook let him go, knowing that he’d kick it wide to the hot handed Morrow, and the Thunder then successfully trapped him in the corner.  It’s like a classic judo move – let the opponent go the way they want to go, and then use their own force against them.

  • Excellent point about the “Do we foul the man?” debate at the end of regulation.  It will take more coaching and practicing the scenario, but the good rule of thumb is, if the man puts the ball on the court, he cannot simultaneously be in the act of shooting, and it’s safe to foul him.  Morrow dribbled and then shot.  Opportunity missed.  Green caught, elevated, and shot.  Bad foul, even if the shot hadn’t even come close.
  • Green also provided a wonderful template for Durant of all people.  He was far more integrated in the offense, getting Durant-like shots, than Durant has all season.  He was posting up, curling, popping, and slashing to the rim with total control and balance.  He was patient in a way that Durant has not. (Which of course furthers my point that he’s the perfect guy to play 6th man by spelling Durant. They just don’t co-exist well since they play so similarly).
  • Westbrook, best PG?  Not quite yet.  The true test of an elite PG is whether he can dominate a game without taking a shot.
  • I loved the way James Harden stepped up in the game.  He has really good body control.  He started attacking the rim consistently in a way that reminded me a bit of hoops prodigy/NBA disappointment Kenny Anderson, right down to the lefty shot.  Contrast that against Westbrook, who goes at the rim the same way Dwyane Wade does – to inflict maximum punishment.
  • I don’t know if Mo Cheeks will get the nod this year for the HoF.  He had a solid career and is widely known as one of the better PG’s of the 80’s.  One thing that surprises me is how there has been very little discussion so far this year regarding his appearance on the Thunder’s bench and Westbrook’s meteoric rise as a Super-PG.  Correlation? Causation? A little insight would be nice.
  • Last note on Cheeks – even if he doesn’t make it to the HoF, in my mind he’ll be known forever for two things – helping Dr. J win his only NBA championship, and THIS.  Sometimes it is the small moments, away from the fanfare, that shows us who the true men of character really are.

Add another one to the Westbrook jam lexicon.

Game 19 Results: Triple OT

Final Score: Thunder 123, Nets 120

Record: 13-6

Stat Leaders

Points: Westbrook 38, Green 37, Lopez 28, Farmar 28

Rebounds: Westbrook 15, Kris Humphries 15

Assists: Westbrook 9, Farmar 9

There are probably a half dozen ways I could attempt to dissect tonight’s game.  The Thunder were without Durant, and the Nets were without Devin Harris.  Point-wise, it was probably a wash.  As a result, we expected the Thunder to play a certain way (See: Boston Celtics).  We didn’t quite get that defensive effort.  What we got instead was a thoroughly enjoyable game to watch.

“I thought we had the game won a lot and I thought we lost it a lot” – Coach Brooks

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Game 19 Preview: Thunder at Nets

Tip-off: 7:00PM EST

(as of 4:00PM, Durent still listed as game-time-decision)

Key NJ players:

Brook Lopez – 18.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Devin Harris – 18.2 ppg, 6.8 apg

Potential key injuries –
Harris, knee
Krstic, ankle

The New Jersey Nets, oft-plagued with an occasional ray of sunshine (see: Jason Kidd years), are about to undergo a transformation in the next few years.  They were recently purchased by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov in 2009, and in 2012 they will be relocating to Brooklyn where they will likely get a new facelift and identity.  Sadly for them, those exciting events have no bearing on this year’s mediocre at best group.  They aren’t the sad sack that the Nets were a year ago, but they certainly are not good.  They struggle in most aspects of the game, save for defense, which they are currently ranked 7th allowing only 96.2 points per game.

In order to avoid another let-down after a big win against the Hornets, here is the game plan for tonight:

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