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Loud Links: 12|12|09

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Not much happening, other than another win. Our 12th win didn't happen until February 6th last season. The Thunder has already tallied up half the total number of wins they had last season. Doesn't it feel good?

NBA Sophomore Rankings: Who's No. 1? - ESPN Insider
[Who's No. 1? Well it is not Westbrook. Russ lost his #2 ranking as he slips down to the 5th spot.] Westbrook's shooting woes and poor shot selection continue to hurt him. More than two-thirds of his shots come from the perimeter, where he's shooting less than 40 percent (and just 31 percent from 3). But his energy and athleticism are still having a positive impact. More importantly, he is managing the game better and quarterbacking his team into playoff contention.

Thunder notebook: Russell Westbrook finishes strong |
Westbrook hit a 10-footer in the lane to push the lead to seven points. He drained a 3-pointer to make it an 11-point lead. He put an exclamation mark on the run with a slam dunk off an offensive rebound. "A lot of point guards are looking for the ball on the outlet on the wing," Westbrook said. "I feel that gives me an opportunity to go to the glass to help my team get an extra possession. Their bigs forget about me. They’re trying to block out our bigs. And there I come over the top."

Thunder blows lead, rallies to beat Memphis Grizzlies |
After taking the equivalent of a right-hand cross to the jaw in the third quarter, a 17-point lead having evaporated into a four-point deficit, the Thunder answered with a knockout punch of its own to post a 102-94 win over the Grizzlies on Friday night at FedEx Forum. "That shows the growth of this team," said Russell Westbrook. "We did a good job of staying close all the way back to training camp. Especially on the road, that’s where we really need each other. That’s where it really shows." - The Game Happens Here
"I think we are mentally tough,'' Oklahoma City Kevin Durant said. "We still have a long way to go in that area, but we are more mentally tough than we were last year. That was one of the toughest third quarters we have played. That was a test that I think we passed. We came out in the fourth quarter and fought hard against a great team and got the win.''

In a matchup of the NBA's two youngest teams, the Thunder were looking to build on their surprising 11-9 start, while the streaking Grizzlies, who had won eight of their last 12 games after a 1-8 start, were looking for their fourth straight win. Prior to the game, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team would have to remain focused defensively against a versatile Grizzlies offense if they were to come away with their sixth road win of the season.

And for most of the night, the Thunder did just that, holding the Grizzlies to just 41.3 percent shooting, 22.2 percent from 3-point range. The Grizzlies also cooperated by making just 14 of their 24 free throws. "Going into the game, we knew this was a team that could score,'' Brooks said. "They have been on a nice run lately with a big win against Cleveland, and we wanted to really come out and defend them, contest their shooters. They have three guys that can score 25-30 points in a night.''

THUNDER: Tulsa Report: Brooks visits 66ers; Mullens making smooth transition
[Brooks keeps a watchful eye on the progress of Mullens.] Brooks and assistant coach Rex Kalamian spent the off day with the Tulsa 66ers, checking in on rookie center Byron Mullens and helping the 66ers staff conduct practice. It’s probably something you don’t see often in the NBA. "

I think it’s rare," Brooks said. "But we own that team so we have a lot invested in it. We like the fact that we can go down there and visit, watch their practices, watch their games as many times as we’re able to because it’s only an hour and a half drive. So it was good to see them practice. Byron, like I said, I thought he did very well."

Brooks’ visit to Tulsa was just one of several ways in which the Thunder is staying connected with the 66ers. Brooks and Assistant General Manager Rich Cho are in constant communication with the 66ers front office. Mullens said that most of his Thunder teammates, and Brooks, text message him regularly, and that he picked up the NBA League Pass application on his iPhone so he could keep up with the team. Mullens said that Cho and Assistant General Manager Troy Weaver have come to see him play so far.

"I stay in touch with Sam (Presti), all those guys, Rich, Troy, Coach (Brooks), we all stay in contact," said Mullens, who was in Oklahoma City for Monday's Thunder game against Golden State. "They all come down and watch games and after the games they tell me how I’m doing. During the game I’ll look up there and they’ll give me a thumbs-up. It means a lot, them showing up and believing (in me). It feels great."