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Loud Links: 01/26/2010

Ron Adams changes Thunder defense |
The man credited for changing the culture of the Thunder is only part coach. Listen to Ron Adams assess Oklahoma City’s progression for 20 minutes, and it becomes crystal clear that the assistant coach also carries a combination of motivator and philosopher. Collectively, it has combined to form the catalyst for the league’s biggest defensive turnabout. "He’s turned our heads and made (us) focus on the defensive side," said Jeff Green. Strangely enough, the how isn’t so sophisticated. We’re talking about a guy who star forward Kevin Durant claimed has sparked his individual defensive surge this season through scare tactics more than strategic technique. "He believes in effort," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "And he challenges guys to reach levels that they probably don’t feel like they can get to."

24 Seconds Around the NBA
11. The Atlanta Hawks and the Oklahoma City Thunder are both at least 10 games over .500 ATS thus far this season, whereas the New Jersey Nets are the only team that is 10 or more games under .500 ATS on the season. Five teams finished at least 10 games over .500 ATS last season and five teams finished at least 10 games under .500 ATS.

Power Rankings: Cavs, Hawks welcome Thunder, Grizzlies to A team - NBA - Basketball
Oklahoma City Thunder: There is no guide to building an NBA power from ashes, but maybe the Thunder should consider copyrighting one. Hitting a grand slam with its past four lottery picks no doubt would be the focal point. But it's more than that. Watching one of those four (Kevin Durant) blossom into a superstar and another (Russell Westbrook) anchor the backcourt have given the Thunder the look of a contender. With wins already over Orlando, Atlanta and San Antonio, and two over Utah, maybe it's not just a look.

Nick Friedell's Blog - Scare-a-Bull - ESPN Chicago
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Derrick Rose was spooked. He sat at his locker on Monday night listening to what was being said around him and didn't like what he was hearing. Was the hotel that he and his Chicago Bulls teammates would be staying at in Oklahoma City really ... haunted?

Greatest KU games: No. 8 |
KU was young, but Texas was even younger. The Longhorns started four freshmen (Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Justin Mason) and a sophomore (A.J. Abrams). Dexter Pittman was also part of that freshman class. "What he did with our program was phenomenal," Barnes said of Durant. "For him to keep it where it was and get us back to the NCAA Tournament, really, people have no idea what kind of year he really did have." Durant and the Longhorns won a game in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, but lost in the round of 32 to USC. Kansas advanced to the Elite Eight and lost to UCLA. For the 2006-07 season, Durant averaged 25.8 points per game. His 903 total points stand as the most by any Big 12 freshman. The Big 12 has seen its share of stellar freshmen. Texas’ T.J Ford in 2001-2002; Kansas State’s Michael Beasley and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin in 2007-2008; Oklahoma’s Willie Warren last season and KU’s Xavier Henry this season. Durant, however, could be remembered as the conference’s top diaper dandy. I think he’s been the best," Barnes, in his 12th year at Texas, said of Durant when asked about the Big 12’s best freshman ever. "I think he’s proven that now, even at the next level. I think the impact he’s having on the NBA, and what he did in college, I’m not sure there’s anyone who’s had that much of an impact anywhere."

Proven leadership: New, improved Randolph puts up All-Star numbers" The Commercial Appeal
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: He ranks third in the NBA with 29.3 points per game and is the first player in NBA history under the age of 22 with 18 straight games of 25-plus points.

Knicks/Nets 2010 Gamble A Risky Play - Basketball News & NBA Rumors -
They say money can't buy you love. Well, in the NBA, cap space and cash don't necessarily buy you superstars and championships… All kidding aside, the moral of the story is clear: putting all your eggs in the free agent basket is inherently risky. Of course, there are major differences between the Pistons situation and teams such as the Knicks, Nets, Bulls and all the other squads that have been squirreling away cap space for July 1, 2010. For starters, this summer's free agent class is arguably the most talented in the history of professional sports. It is not as if there is only one grand prize up for grabs; there are actually a plethora of elite studs and plenty of mid-tier stars on the market.