The Thunder suffered a second consecutive loss last night, losing to the Western Conference leading Trail Blazers, 103-93. The Blazers have surprised some people this season, as they are the top-standing team in the west despite losing Brandon Roy and Greg Oden (again). Perhaps it is time to give the franchise and its unassuming coach Nate McMillan some credit; they appear to be primed to overcome adversity again and build a playoff contender.
Mayberry notes that Russell Westbrook and James Harden worked on some full-court press during the Blazers game. I like this switch, especially since it confirms my belief that Westbrook could be an absolute terror on defense if Brooks decides to unleash him in that regard. The only downside is that Westbrook is still prone to bad defensive fundamentals and can get carried away with the man to man match-ups rather than concern himself with his team's overall defensive focus.
Young writes that the Thunder really fell short in getting to the free throw line, a place that is usually an oasis for a team that is struggling offensively.
It looked to me like Portland borrowed a page from the Mavericks' defensive playbook. Instead of one-on-one defensive focus, they were concentrating more on getting Kevin Durant and Westbrook into specific zones on the court where they knew the duo would be less effective. In fact, it seemed like there were several times in the second half where the Blazers' defense practically escorted Durant/Westbrook into a potential scoring opportunity, only to be ready and waiting for a quick trap or a steal attempt.
Our man Z is probably doing backflips over the prospect.
Just in case you're out at the Boom Boom Room in NYC and you're in a heated discussion with Young Jeezy over whether D.J. Augustin would be an adequate replacement for Jason Terry and BAM! you forget that Terry actually plays off-guard at least 24% of the time, just reach into your back pocket and whip this out. WoW will save the day for you and earn a spot in Jeezy's next music video, no doubt.
This is pretty great.
Here is a ranking of the teams that apparently are following the Thunder blue print. It's so easy, dontchaknow.
Whenever it happens, it is usually when the player has spent at least five years in the league.
Far be it from me to take enjoyment with a player's pain, and I happen to like Michael Beasley, but this painful moment, captured on camera, is classic. Actually, I'll do the work for you below:
Caron Butler now knows that ball don't lie.
Pruiti ranks the newcomers, with Ricky Rubio coming out on top. So far, it looks like Coach Adelman has been using Rubio effectively in providing him with offensive opportunities while limiting his defensive weaknesses.
Somewhere, a joke about Russia lurks.
I don't know what everybody is complaining about. A 6-28 shooting performance is MVP-worthy.
If you've spent any time at all watching David West play, you know that his influence is not surprising.
Ooh, Van Gundy, watch where you sit.
The Mavericks are going to have some trouble stopping by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.