The Thunder survived the standard slugfest with the Memphis Grizzlies last night, holding off the Grizz 100-95. Tonight they get a look at the remade New Orleans Hornets. While the Hornets have gone through some expected transitions, they still have big wins over the Celtics and Nuggets, so OKC would do well to treat them seriously.
Rohde provides a good synopsis of the win, but this particular bullet point caught me:
In the locker room after the game, forward Serge Ibaka had a spirited conversation with Sefolosha. Ibaka talks slowly in broken English, but he goes 100 mph when speaking French. No clue what they were talking about, but Ibaka vented and Sefolsoha set him straight. Sefolosha's presence with Ibaka is immeasurable. Ibaka is only 22 years old. It's hard to imagine the culture shock he would have felt not being able to communicate with anyone on the team.
I find myself often expecting Ibaka to be further along than he is, but this comment really strikes home the point that he's a 22 year old young man, far away from home, and is still learning how to communicate effectively.
Russell Westbrook played his best offensive game of the season last night, terrorizing the open court and finally hitting his jumpers with regularity. Westbrook is finally easing into his normal mode of play, getting to the rim, passing out assists, and grabbing almost five rebounds per game.
Kevin Durant assumes his customary position in the top three, but Ziller surprises us by sticking James Harden in at #9. Beard: feared.
Mason writes a great post here on how teams are starting to incorporate the Tom Thibodeau defense to increase their defensive efficiency.
This is a good analysis of how OKC players still have a tendency to fall back into poor habits. We micro-analyze this a bit much though; you could say the same thing about every player in the league, from LeBron James and Kobe Bryant right on down the list.
Ziller examines the pace of teams this season, noting that by and large teams have stayed the same with a couple major exceptions. One of those exceptions resides in the Northwest Conference.
Durant reflects on the impact that King still has today on he and his peers.
Love him or hate him, LeBron James is still working to improve his game in order to get to the next level.
This is an exceptional read that looks behind the myth-building exercise which is the Jordan brand. I personally had heard this story so many times that it is practically part of my OWN life story.
The 76ers are the surprise team of the moment, and they are dominating teams using a variety of off the ball movement including these sideline pick and roll screens. I would really love to see OKC incorporate this kind of secondary player movement on offense.
More links after the jump.
And that new look is...well, he kind of looks like Michael Phelps.