Man...It has been too long. I took last week off to recover from the All-Star weekend in New Orleans, and based on their last three games, it appears the Thunder are too. We have a lot of things to get to so lets not waste any more time.
Got Put On Skates Award - Thabo Sefolosha
Poor Thabo. This season has been rough for him. Having Andre Igoudala drain a game winning shot on you is one thing but having Kyrie Irving go all Uncle Drew has to really suck.
Brandon Knight needs to start a support group for players that get Uncle Drew'd.
Kevin Durant Is A Great Human Award -
Just another story about the how kind and nice Kevin Durant is to pretty much everyone he meets.
I was working for Fox at the OKC Thunder game last night. After the game, one of our camera operators slipped and fell on the stairs last night. KD is about to walk his mother out, but sees this happen. He said to his mom, "Hold on a minute."
M.C. Hammer Award - Russell Westbrook
Oh....Russ. We missed you. Mainly I missed you. Mainly I missed your outfits. To be honest, the more you sit on the bench, the more bland your outfits had become. You have a created a high standard to live up to over the years and this past weekend you were back in mid-season form.
With all the news about LeBron James staring in Space Jam 2 it is clear that Westbrook is auditioning for Kazaam 2. Speaking of Westbrook...
Raided Westbook's Closet Award - James Harden
Good job and good effort bearded one. Ever since the All-Star weekend James Harden's wardrobe has been playing at an All-Star level.
Photo Bomb Award - Serge Ibaka
We have no coined this an "Ibaka-Bomb" which is much like a Rafi-Bomb except not as disgusting.
We all need to step up our photo bomb game because Ibaka is head and shoulders...literally...ahead of the pack.
Hasheem Thabeet Selfie Of The Week -
First off I love that Thabeet seems to be a really good guy and this picture illustrates that as this was taken while he was at a charity event. Now, I know Thabeet is tall, ergo his body parts are not "normal" sized, but good lord his hands look gigantic in this picture. It is like one of those perspective drawlings you are made to do in your freshman art class. His hands looks three times bigger than his head. It is kind of creepy. Maybe he's a fan of Foo Fighters.
I mean, it could be worse for Chandler. At least he didn't let Dirk Nowitzki knock in a game winner on him that hit every single piece of the rim like Carmelo Anthony allowed. In Melo's defense, he played some amazing D on the play....
Love Carmelo's D on that Dirk Nowitzki buzzer-beater Monday night. pic.twitter.com/apdGK0KKu0— Andy Gray (@si_vault) February 27, 2014
And that wasn't even the worst thing to happen to the Knicks this week.
Its Gotta Be The Shoes Award - Manu Ginobili
How does something like this even happen in this day and age of shoe technology? I think they last time I saw this happen in an NBA game was years ago when it happened to Ron Mercer. In fact, I think he was playing for the Spurs when it happened. Maybe this was the bat coming back for its revenge.
Give Everyone Nightmares Award - Tom Thibodeau
So...when my editor sent me this video I emailed this back to him:
"Ok...I havent even clicked on the video for Thibs yet but the frozen screen grab is scary enough. Clearly he should have played The Joker after we lost Heath Ledger."
Without further ado I bring you the image/video that will haunt your dreams from many many weeks.
I mean, holy hell that is creepy. Thibs makes Reggie Ledoux (WARNING! If you haven't watched True Detective then do not click on that hyperlink. Also, you are sucking at life if you aren't watching that show) look like the kind of person you would trust to watch your children. I shouldn't be shocked by the ultra creepy laugh of Thibodeau because their star player did look like this on draft day.
Trick Shot Award - Ricky Rubio
Rubio wants to make sure you don't forgot about him. That being said now back to talking about how awesome Kevin Love has been this month.
DANGER ZONE - LeBron James
I am sorry to do this, but what King James did to the Thunder in the 1st quarter last week was just insane. He went full video game mode on OKC using cheat codes that the rest of us petty human can only imagine.
I will now spend the next 10 minutes watching this highlight video over and over and over and over again.
Walter White Empire Scale: 4 (Last Week 8)
Remember a few weeks ago when I would tell anyone I saw about all of the elite teams the Thunder had beaten? Post All-Star break has been unkind to the Thunder as they opened up the unofficial second half of the season with three straight home games vs. the Heat, Clippers, and the Cavaliers and the promptly lost all three games in spectacular fashion. I can almost excuse away the game vs. the Heat and blame that on rust (they had a whole week off between games & they had many players and coaches involved in All-Star weekend events) and they got LeBron'd. The Clippers game was an interesting one because it was the first full game post Kendrick Perkins' injury and it was three days after getting owned by the Heat. The extra rest did not change the results for the Thunder. The defense was lacking throughout and it took the Thunder rolling out a small line up for them to hang with the Clippers. Then came the home effort vs. the Cavs where they gave up 42 points in the 4th quarter to a team that is 13 games under 500 and a week ago was in complete dumpster fire mode.
The common trend in these three losses has been the very poor play on the defensive end of the court. The Thunder have prided themselves on being a really good defensive team and for much of the season they have been that. They have a few good individual defenders but their strength lies more in being a really good team defense. They know how to use the length to jump passing lanes and makes closing on offensive players that much easier.and that length helps mask a lot of the deficiency of the players. In this three game losing streak they look lost on defense. They are missing assignments and rotations and their transition defense has resulted in the best players for the other team being left wide open at the three point line (see Kyrie Irving) and they appear to be a half step slow.
Thankfully for the Thunder, problems on the defense are ones that are not impossible to cure. The more Steven Adams plays, the more comfortable he will become and the game will start to slow down for him and in theory he will be able to log heavy minutes without fouling. Also, once Russell Westbrook is able to get his legs back his presence on the offensive end will help out the Thunder's defense. You can't over state how much a offensive threat like Westbrook makes everything easier for the rest of the team. His driving will open up the shooters to get a few more seconds and that much more space to get their shots off and he will rack up fouls and live at the line.
The Thunder are not in horrible shape but they are not sitting as pretty as they were two weeks ago. They need to fix these defensive issues and do so in a hurry because the Spurs aren't going anywhere and the Clippers are playing their best basketball of the season and the Rockets are also rounding into form.
Follow me on twitter @craig_a_brenner