Loud Links 4|12|11

Wow, 81 down, one to go. As crazy as it sounds, the very last game of the year for the Thunder, Lakers, and Mavericks is still going to matter. The Thunder almost let one slip away last night, and I think they were fortunate to be playing the Kings and not a team like the Warriors. It was a classic trap game, and OKC fought through it. Now, one game remains for the home crowd, and it is Milwaukee. There's nothing like some mid-week Andrew Bogut action, let me tell you.

Recap coming later today

Thunder Rumblings | NewsOK

Mayberry's post-game notes. He writes about how the 3rd quarter was the turning point, and the Thunder did it through both offense and defense. What I liked is that in the past five games the Thunder have not gone through those 8-10 minute swoons where they look completely dysfunctional on offense. Last night, it was more about lack of energy and sloppy play than lack of offensive competency.

Behind Ibaka's Spark, OKC Sweeps Kings | Daily Thunder

Young makes the good observation that it was Serge Ibaka's play in the 3rd that brought the Thunder back to life. One aspect about Ibaka's play that is important is that, in the playoffs, a spark can come from anyone. It can come from your #1 guy, or it can come from the 9th guy off the bench.

NBA Scores and More | SB Nation

Here is a concise rundown of everything that mattered last night. Dallas has shown some great resiliency. They were up against the wall in the last few games and figured out ways to win. As such, it is now unlikely that they will fall to the 4th seed, and in fact now stand a good chance at stealing the 2nd seed from the Lakers.

Ibaka on Verge of Leading League in Blocks | NewsOK

Serge Ibaka currently is in first place in total blocks this season, leading the Wizards' JaVale McGee by three heading into both teams' final games. What is most remarkable is the fact that Ibaka has only started for half the season.

More links after the jump.

Making the Awards Picks | Basketball Prospectus

Pelton offers up his selection of award winners this season. The Thunder to make his various lists include Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Sam Presti. I expect Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are not far removed from consideration in the near future.

In A World of Predictions, GM's Don't Know It All | NBA.com

Here are a collection of predictions that team GM's made before the season started. Not surprisingly, few saw the emergence of Derrick Rose coming. 

The Point Forward's 2011 Awards Ballot | Sports Illustrated

Here is Zach Lowe's submission for various individual awards this season. He goes with the statistically solid but non-narrative pick for his MVP.

Popovich Respects Power of 3-Pointer | Spurs Nation

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is like the NBA's version of Clint Eastwood. I imagine that he owns a Gran Torino and keeps a shotgun (loaded) above his kitchen mantle. I'd also be willing to wager that the phrase, "Get off my lawn" is in his day to day vocabulary.

Trading Away a Champion? | Hoopsworld

Here is a good piece on what happens when teams engage with the odds, try to make the transition, and fail. Remember, it was only a year ago that the Phoenix Suns were the 2nd best team in the West, and now they're looking at a complete overhaul and years of mediocrity.

Greg Oden Says He Can't Run For Five Months | Ball Don't Lie

If ever there were thoughts about OKC taking a flyer on Greg Oden, I surely hope that these continued stories return them to reality. The man is just never going to be healthy.

Von Wafer Screws Up Everything | Ball Don't Lie

As much as I've enjoyed the Kendrick Perkins freight train in OKC, a part of me still feels sad for the Celtics. This ridiculous play may have ended up costing the Celtics the #2 seed. I guess that's what happens when you don't respect the Ubuntu.

Thunder's Roar Sparks Interest | Enid News

One of the Thunder's great wins this season is in making non-fans care about their team. It will serve them well in the playoffs.

Blazers Can Clinch 6th Seed Tonight | OregonLive.com

Big game tonight for both Portland and Memphis, as each team is trying to cement itself into a higher seed.

***

Here is Russell Westbrook Coming At You | Daily Thunder

Young records a great snippet of a Westbrook drive last night. Aside from his "Crazy Eyez Killa" look, what really strikes me is Westbrook's shooting posture. In short, it's kind of all over the place. There is no wonder that he runs hot and cold from the field. Once he irons out his shooting mechanics, his jumper is going to improve dramatically. 


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