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Loud Links: 11|16|2009

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Berry Tramel: Kevin Durant can’t score if he doesn’t shoot |
Durant was having one of those nights when he seemed capable of drop-kicking the ball through the hoop. Durant scored 19 points in the third quarter, when he went 6-of-7 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line. Yet he got no shots in the four minutes that decided the game. And while some of that falls on Westbrook’s quarterbacking, some of it falls on Durant himself, who seems content to stay within the flow of the offense. "I was totally comfortable with those guys taking the shots," Durant said of Westbrook and Jeff Green, who combined to go 1-of-5 those final four minutes. Here’s the problem. Games tighten up in crunch time. Defenders grow fangs. No team in its right mind will give Durant shots in the final minutes. The Thunder will have to make it happen.

Clippers 101 - Oklahoma City 93 - That Was Different - Clips Nation
And in the case of the Thunder, it's obvious from their performances against the Clippers that Kevin Durant is a great player, but I just don't get it when people rave about their other young 'stars'. Although Russell Westbrook bounced back some in the second half, and had a seemingly impressive statistical line by the end (17 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists), I don't see how he's helping them win games. Once again he had a miserable shooting night at 5 for 17, and it's pretty clear that he has frequent miserable shooting nights simply because he's a miserable shooter. I'm actually shocked when his jump shot goes in. Westbrook must play better against the rest of the league, because he has never been good against the Clippers. Similarly Jeff Green is an enigma to me. When analysts talk about the young, talented OKC core, Green is always prominently featured. But seriously, what does he do? The dude is a power forward shooting 44% for his career, 44% on the season. Can you afford to have a power forward shooting 44%? He averages 6 rebounds in 36 minutes. Can you afford to have a power forward averaging 6 rebounds? I look at his numbers and I am underwhelmed. I watch him play against the Clippers, and it only reinforces the underwhelminessitude. Isn't Nick Collison actually better - I mean, a lot better - than this guy?

How to bring home the prodigal son (and should it happen?) | Daily
Can Chris Paul ever be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder? Now let me preface this by saying it would absolutely kill me to lose the players it would take to make this deal happen (you’re still my boy, Westbrook!). But when you have the chance to take a player that would instantly make everyone on your team two times better at playing basketball than they are now, a player who absolutely loves your small-market community (even still owns a home in the Oklahoma City metro) and is, without question, an annual MVP candidate and is STILL ONLY 24 YEARS OLD (turns 25 in May of 2010), don’t you have to pull the trigger and pull it hard?"

Thunder Insider: Looking beyond OKC's 5-5 record |
Only three times thus far has the Thunder shot 44 percent or better from the field. It’s a stat that can be attributed to the Thunder’s primary talent being at the wing positions and lacking a consistent low-post scorer. Some of the early kinks should be ironed out in the weeks to come. But OKC has yet to identify a consistent approach when looking to close out games. The Thunder is averaging just 20.3 points in the fourth quarter, its lowest point production period. Defense has prevented the lack of scoring from ballooning into a bigger issue, as the Thunder has allowed just 20.5 points in the final period.

Wait, wait, wait. Let me get this straight. One night after a big win over the Spurs, the Thunder returned home for the second game of back-to-backs and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers?! The same Clippers who had lost three straight and had choked away leads of nine and 22-points in their last two defeats?! The same Clippers who lost to the Thunder at home four days earlier?! How could that happen? I mean, Kevin Durant scored a season-high 40 points on 14-for-25 shooting, and the Clippers gave up an incredible 25 points on only 12 turnovers. Oklahoma City even snared 18 offensive rebounds. I don't get it. Hey, I wonder if it has anything to do with that whole "second night of back-to-backs" thing? Nah. That's just an excuse...

NBA Courtside Blog
Brooks was quick to give praise to the Clips afterwards, calling them "talented" many times. He thought L.A. ramped up their defense getting in the Thunder's face at every turn, and that OKC didn't match their physicality. Brooks was happy with the shot selections guys took, especially the open looks beyond the arc, but they just weren't falling tonight. Brooks is not particularly happy with a 5-5 record, but he "likes what we've done." Durant gave credit to the Clippers: "They came out and played very hard and very tough on both ends." He was disappointed with OKC's rebounding. "This was a bad loss for us, but we're going to learn from it." The Clippers saw three players step it up: Al Thornton- 20 pts, Baron Davis - 24 pts and Chris Kaman - 25 pts, and held the Thunder to 38.8% field-goal shooting, while the Clips enjoyed 48.1% fg shooting. Mike Dunleavy called Kaman "our anchor so far this year." Dunleavy also said the Clips had 31 deflections in the game...and noted "when we have over 30 deflections, we have never lost a game." Davis said: "We lost three games in a row at home, three games we should have won." Kaman admits the loss to OKC last week was "frustrating." The Clips watched film from the loss and resolved to focus on closing out the fourth quarter, which is exactly what they did.