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Loud Links | 11.12.2009

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We begin today's edition of Loud Links with a series of articles focused on none other than ... James Harden. The ridiculous 40-foot halftime shot takes the cake, but there's also a piece reiterating just how much ASU is going to miss him and Pendergraph. Then there are Rotoworld updates on Thunder players, for you stat-centric fantasy basketball types. A bunch of recap articles about our ugly, ugly win over the Clippers are interspersed in the mix, with some questions arising as to the potential fallout of some players shining when given the opportunity (Harden?). There's a piece on the 66ers changing their colors to match the Thunder as well as an article pointing out the fact that we haven't seen Kyle Weaver in action at all to date. Anyhow ... enjoy!

Fantasy Basketball Breaking News -
[So yeah, Harden obviously is finally taking steps to take advantage of the opportunities he's been given.] James Harden took advantage of Russell Westbrook's ankle injury and had seven points, five boards, eight assists, a steal and a block on 3-of-8 shooting in Wednesday's win. Harden is an interesting fantasy player right now, but is coming off the bench behind Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha had been playing well but had just two points and eight rebounds tonight. Harden is probably worth holding in deeper leagues, but won't be an everyday starter as long as he's not starting for his real team.

Thunder notebook: James Harden’s memorable shot |
[More to add to the Harden fun ... he's quietly having quite the nice week.] A 40-foot halftime buzzer-beater, two steps inside the half-court line against Sacramento, will be one of James Harden’s top highlights from his rookie season. "That’s my first half-court shot ever," Harden said. Does he ever practice that shot? "No, not really," Harden said. "Sometimes when you’re a kid you throw the ball up from half court ... the clock was running out. I just wanted to get a shot up." Harden, who scored nine points against the Kings, said he’s getting more comfortable. "My teammates want me to shoot the ball more. My coaches want me to shoot the ball a little bit more," Harden said. "Now it’s just a matter of playing." - The Jump: Debacle in Memphis
[And here's the video for those of you who didn't catch it.] Eye Openers: Oklahoma City Thunder rookie James Harden drains a half court bomb against the Sacramento Kings.

ASU begins life without Harden, Pendergraph | ASU Sun Devils |
[And here's the other side of things -- just how much did Harden mean for ASU last year?] Coming off a 25-win season for the first time since 1974-75 and a second-round berth in last year’s NCAA tournament, the Sun Devils are in rebuilding mode. The team lost 50 percent of its scoring and 45 percent of its rebounding to the NBA in lottery pick James Harden and forward Jeff Pendergraph.

And the rest is after the jump.

Ugly but a win nonetheless | NBA in OKC /
[Here's the start of a huge line-up of NewsOK articles on the cringe-worthy win over the Clippers.] If you didn’t stay up until midnight to watch Kevin Durant’s big shot in the final minute, it wasn’t pretty. Niether team shot well. The Thunder finished at 42.2 percent, the Clippers 35.9. The bottom line is the Thunder found a way to win an ugly game. The most revealing stat was the Clippers shot only 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line, making only 3 of 19 shots. Thunder coach Scott Brooks admitted the Clippers missed a few good looks. But the Thunder also turned up its defensive pressure.

Notebook: OKC Drops Clippers |
[This is a great, more in-depth article detailing some specific observations of the same game. And yet another author pointing out that mayhap Harden deserves a tad more time at the expense of one struggling Westbrook.] - The Clippers lack of efficiency from the outside is making Kaman easy prey for the opposing defenders. - The Thunder had their own share of shooting woes, specifically at the guard position where Russell Westbrook (1-11) and Thabo Sefolosha combined for just four points. Jeff Green needed 13 attempts for 13 points. - Rookie James Harden came off the bench and dished an impressive eight assists in just 24 minutes. Let the debate rage on whether or not the struggling Westbrook belongs in the starting lineup.

Win No. 4 noteworthy for Thunder |
[Yay, I almost thought I'd get through today without finding yet another article harping on how awesome the Thunder defense is. Okay, we get it -- it's better.] "They missed some open shots," Brooks said. "We’re going to stay humble in our victory. But it’s important that we defend. I said it all summer long, and all through training camp, defense is going to be our identity. We’re going to have to play gritty, scrappy basketball." Ollie said defense is what he’s most encouraged by two weeks into the season. "That’s what’s going to help us win a lot of games," Ollie said. "We don’t have the type of team that we can just coast through a game and then turn it on. We just need to keep doing the small things"

Thunder 83, Clippers 79 |
"We’ve definitely made some strides," said Nick Collison. "I think we’re just starting to learn how to play. What I like is we have a lot of guys just concerned with winning and making winning plays." Durant did both Wednesday and assumed his rightful place at the front of the line on a night that you might have viewed simply as Game No. 8 of his third season.

66ers Change Colors To Match Thunder | NewsChannel 8
[So this is kind of interesting. I really don't get it though -- MLB minor league teams don't do this, for one. But then again it might be part of the great plan of brand unity ... or something akin. Who knows. Or cares. So long as Mullens learns how to play basketball, they can dress up however they want and I won't complain.] "The color change reflects the ties between our team and the Thunder, as well as their commitment to the Tulsa area," 66ers President Jim Brylewski said. "The new uniforms and team merchandise are a reminder of the close affiliation with our parent club." The new home uniform will be white jerseys and shorts with navy piping around the neckline and navy three-stripe piping down the sides. Road uniforms will be light blue with orange piping around the neckline and navy three-stripe piping down the sides. COUGAR BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK
[Seriously -- where is Kyle Weaver? He was great last year, and given the whole defensive focus, why not get him some minutes?] WEAVER SITS: Kyle Weaver, the only former Cougar playing in the NBA, has not appeared in Oklahoma City’s first eight games. Weaver, who started 19 games and averaged 5.3 points as a rookie last season, was on the inactive list until Tuesday. He has fully recovered from July surgery on a torn thumb tendon suffered in the NBA Summer League, but he only played six minutes in one exhibition game with the Thunder.

Oklahoma City 83 - Clippers 79 - This is How Seasons Are Lost | Clips Nation
[Our sister-blog on SBNation laments how this singular game is reflective of Clippers basketball. I can't say I disagree. That was just a terrible, terrible game.] Nonetheless, there is something very wrong with this team. They seem congenitally incapable of succeeding. Oklahoma City was pretty much terrible in this game. Aside from Kevin Durant, who scored 30 points on 12 for 20 shooting, none of the main guns for the Thunder had a good game, and Russell Westbrook had a full on nightmare, going 1 for 11 before taking a seat for the final 16 minutes. (Come to think of it, the Clippers took their nine point lead minutes after Westbrook left the game and then the wheels came off. So apparently Kevin Ollie was the key for the Thunder.) But the Clippers were unable of taking advantage of the fact that the Thunder were mostly ineffective. As I watched Chris Kaman, in vintage Mr. Flippy form, miss several easy third quarter chances, I thought to myself that those missed points were going to come back to haunt the team. When they built the nine point lead anyway, I thought that just maybe they'd dodged the bullet. In the end, the blown opportunities in the third quarter didn't matter much - because Kaman blew even more chances in the fourth. He had every opportunity to make up for his earlier miscues. I have him at five misses in the fourth quarter alone, all of them right at the cup.