After a weekend with wins against the Bobcats and the Celtics, the Thunder set their sights on the first place San Antonio Spurs tonight. From the Interwebs:
1. According to Oklahoma City Thunder beat writer for the Oklahoma Darnell Mayberry Russell Westbrook is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s playing efficiently, even when he isn’t shooting well. No one can even attempt to slow him down, as he gets to the bucket by driving the lane seemingly at will, and when he doesn’t finish, he’s typically going to the line. The scariest thing is, I still think Russ is about 2 years from peaking. Think about that.
Perhaps we’re witnessing Westbrook warming up.
If so, with only 20 games remaining before the start of the playoffs the Westbrook we’re watching now could be the version we see when it matters most. (full story)
2. At times this season, our bench has gone, well, MIA for lack of a better term. The LA Times and Bleacher Report, in a rather interesting piece which had nothing to do with Los Angeles, pointed to Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha, and Reggie Jackson as three role players who have to step up if Oklahoma City wants to be successful in the playoffs. I’d say playoff success is pretty important.
The Oklahoma City Thunder look as if they will be one of the last teams standing when the NBA playoffs come later this year. However, achieving that goal will be impossible if the team’s more important role players do not step up.
After starting out the season in dominant fashion, the Thunder have come back down to Earth. The primary difference has not been the team’s stars, but rather the supporting cast that fills in the rest of the puzzle. (full story)
3. 2008 Oklahoma of the Year, former Beacon Club President, and current owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder Clay Bennett is a man of convictions. When he believes in something, he goes for it, just like when he got the Thunder to Oklahoma City. Bennett was recently appointed to a board overseeing the completion of the American Indian Cultural Museum, which has been in the process of building for several years. I’m sure with Bennett on the job, securing funding and motivation work crews will just happen naturally.
“I look forward to working with my fellow board members to complete the center in an efficient, timely, financially sound and prudent manner,” said Bennett. (full story)
4. Back during the 2008-2009 season,the Thunder’s first in Oklahoma City, there were really only three bright spots on an otherwise dull fabric that was the 23-59 finish to that season. Those three bright spots were Kevin Durant, rookie Russell Westbrook, and hybrid 3-4 man Jeff Green. In 2011, though, we saw a trade deadline deal go through that sent what everyone though was a cornerstone to the organization to the Boston Celtics for a guy we knew hardly anything about, in Kendrick Perkins. That’s the business of basketball, and we all had to live with it. And though we went our separate ways, many in Oklahoma City still remember and love Jeff Green, who made his first return to Oklahoma City since the trade. It was a poor night for Green, but I’m sure it gave many, as it did me, a warm feeling to see him back on our floor.
But for at least a brief moment on Sunday, when his name is called or he showcases his patented athleticism on a smooth dribble-drive, fans and former players alike will briefly remember what he used to mean to this franchise.
“He was really like my brother,” Kevin Durant said earlier this year. “We came in the same year. We’ve been through everything. The trade was tough for us, but in this league anything can happen and we’ve moved past it, but he’s still one of my best friends. He’s a guy that’s going to be that way forever.” (full story)
5. We see some crazy things in High School sports, and I’m sure I’ll link one of the craziest buzzer beating shots I’ve seen as a Sixth man this week. But as the Oklahoma State Playoffs came to their conclusion this weekend, one of the most baffling things that I’ve ever heard of or seen happened in the 3A quarterfinal game, and it quickly made national news. Trey Johnson of Hugo, Oklahoma, got turned around in the waning f their game against Millwood, and hit an open-layup into his own goal to catapult Millwood to a win. Now, I feel for this kid, that’s not going to be easy to live down. The Thunder felt the same way, and reached out to Johnson, who sat courtside at the Celtics game this Sunday. Just another reason the Thunder Care.
Roughly 2½ hours before the noon tip, Johnson met several Thunder players during their pregame warm-up sessions on the court an hour before the arena doors opened. During the game, Johnson sat courtside with Thunder owners along the baseline near the OKC bench.
Johnson received various gifts, including a shoe autographed by Kevin Durant and the shoes Russell Westbrook wore during Sunday’s game that also were autographed. (full story)
The Sixth Man: One of the things that helps me get through my Mondays is a little site called Monday Punday, and let’s just say it makes the otherwise awful start to the week bearable. He doesn’t give you answers unless you get them correctly, so it’s a bit annoying, but the challenge is what makes it worthwhile.
Have a great Monday, an beat the Spurs. A win puts us in first tonight.
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