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Loud Links: 01/28/2010

Kevin Durant is an All-Star! - KRMG Sports with Rick Couri on
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant was named a reserve on the Western Conference All-Star Team the NBA announced today. "I am both excited and honored to be able to represent the Thunder and our organization as an NBA All-Star," said Durant. "There are a lot of people who have contributed to this achievement, it is important to me that I recognize the support I have received from my teammates, our organization and my family as well as our fans. I'm looking forward to this experience and am excited to take the floor for the Western Conference." Durant becomes the first ever Thunder All-Star and the first franchise All-Star since Ray Allen was named a Western Conference reserve in 2007. This season, Durant is averaging 29.3 points (3rd in the NBA), 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 39.9 minutes in 45 games.

SandRidge announces its plan for downtown Oklahoma City |
The two-block campus surrounds a 30-story tower that was once home to Kerr-McGee Corp., and the entire complex is being christened as "SandRidge Commons." "We are excited to be a part of downtown Oklahoma City," said Tom Ward, chief executive officer of SandRidge Energy. "This city is undergoing a rejuvenation unseen anywhere else in the country, which was initiated by the MAPS projects and is now continuing with the arrival of the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team and corporate participation including SandRidge Commons." The 30-story tower, renamed the SandRidge Building, is an award-winning modernist landmark designed by renowned architect Pietro Belluschi, best known for New York’s legendary Pan Am Building.

Thunder notebook: Big game vs. Nuggets? |
"Yeah it does, especially since we lost those two by one point." said Kevin Durant. "That was kind of tough. Then we lose at home, which is tough as well. We don’t want to make it four in a row." The three-game skid matches the longest all season. "You lose two or three in a row you definitely want to get a win to stop the bleeding," said Nick Collison. "Denver is a really good team, top in our division. It’s a big game for us." Said Jeff Green: "It’s important for us. But you win some, you lose some. It’s only a three-game losing streak. It’s not like we’ve lost 11 in a row. We can rebound from this."

Thunder could be playoff contender - The Denver Post
"I think so," Billups said. "I think we have the most competitive division out there this year." The Southwest Division appears stronger, with all five teams over .500, but the Northwest has four teams above .500, something that has never happened in its five-year history. And the biggest reason for the upgrade is the improved play of the Nuggets' opponent tonight — the Oklahoma City Thunder (24-21). "I think they are going to make the playoffs," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "All summer long, I expected them to have a great year. Now maybe they're going a little higher than I expected. But I think right now, if I had to pick eight teams, I might put them on the playoff list. That's how well I think they're playing." Denver has won the only matchup this season, 102-93, and prevailed in two buzzer- beating finishes a season ago. "They are a formidable opponent," Billups said. "Especially in their building. They run, they play hard, they're athletic. Kevin Durant is one of the best scorers in the world. They're tough, man." Spotlight on James Harden: The Thunder's 6-foot-5 rookie guard out of Arizona State is doing well, averaging 9.9 points per game, fourth-best on the team though he averages just 23 minutes. He'll participate in the rookie-sophomore game during All-Star Weekend in Dallas.Spotlight on James Harden: The Thunder's 6-foot-5 rookie guard out of Arizona State is doing well, averaging 9.9 points per game, fourth-best on the team though he averages just 23 minutes. He'll participate in the rookie-sophomore game during All-Star Weekend in Dallas.Spotlight on James Harden: The Thunder's 6-foot-5 rookie guard out of Arizona State is doing well, averaging 9.9 points per game, fourth-best on the team though he averages just 23 minutes. He'll participate in the rookie-sophomore game during All-Star Weekend in Dallas.

N.B.A. Roundup - With 7 First-Time Selections, All-Star Game Has Different Look -
The Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks each had two players picked as reserves Thursday for the Feb. 14 game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were chosen from the Celtics, while the Hawks are sending Joe Johnson and Al Horford. Rondo and Horford will make their first All-Star appearances, as will Oklahoma City swingman Kevin Durant, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace, Memphis forward Zach Randolph, Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Williams.

Nuggets-Thunder Preview - Jan. 28, 2010 - NBA -
The Denver Nuggets are the NBA's hottest team, but they're not the most powerful force to arrive in Oklahoma City. Friday night's game between the surging Nuggets, who expect to have Carmelo Anthony back as they go for a ninth straight win, and the suddenly struggling Thunder could be delayed with a severe winter storm blanketing Oklahoma City. Denver (31-14) boarded an airplane shortly after Wednesday's 97-92 win over Houston to beat an ice storm that has since covered the Oklahoma capital and surrounding area. The ice has made conditions there dangerous, and the game may be postponed. The Nuggets would probably like to get this game in considering how well they've been playing lately.

Blazers keeping an eye on void left by Sonics - nba -
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -Sarah Mensah couldn't help but notice one handmade sign that appeared recently among the sea of placards and posters that fans display at Portland Trail Blazers' home games. "Converted Sonics fans down from Seattle,'' it said. Its message was clear to Mensah, Portland's senior vice president and chief marketing officer. While the Blazers are "for Oregon and about Oregonians,'' as she says, there is a potential fan base three hours up the road that the team would be foolish to overlook. The once vibrant SuperSonics-Blazers rivalry that divided basketball loyalties in the Pacific Northwest disappeared when the Sonics moved before the 2008 season and became the Oklahoma City Thunder. The professional basketball vacuum left in Seattle has created a business opportunity the Portland franchise can't ignore. "When the Portland Trail Blazers have relevance beyond Portland and Oregon it's something the entire community can share in from a pride factor,'' Mensah said. Problem is, nearly two years after the Sonics' messy departure, Seattle fans are still bitter toward the NBA. That has Trail Blazers management considering how to navigate a minefield laced with betrayal and distrust to reach into a metro area of more than 3 million people with a rich basketball history, possible business partnerships never before tapped by a Portland franchise and connections to players on the Blazers, as well as their coach.

Thunder Lose Third Straight | KSBI Thunder TV | News Sports Radar Weather Cams | Oklahoma City | Sports
With the first half of the season come and gone, now is the time of the year where multiple game losing streaks can put you in a bind. Especially, if you are one of the teams fighting for a final playoff spot and that is exactly where the Thunder have found themselves. Oklahoma City returned home last night to begin a four game home stand after losing back to back games finishing a four game road stand. The Thunder were hosting the Bulls, an eastern conference team and a record below .500, both the types of teams the Thunder have played well against this year. However, last night was a different story.

Report: Durant Named All-Star Reserve | Thunder Rumblings
And, according to their report, Thunder forward Kevin Durant will indeed make the cut tonight as one of seven All-Star reserves that will officially be announced tonight on TNT. It will mark the first time Durant has been named to the All-Star team. According to Yahoo! Sports, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph, Pau Gasol and Brandon Roy also made the West roster. The Eastern Conference reserves reportedly include Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and Al Horford.

Tulsa World: Durant earns All-Star status
Leave it to the "Round Mound of Sound" to pester Kevin Durant on one of the biggest days of his professional career. Shortly after announcing Durant as a first-time All-Star on Thursday night, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley engaged the Thunder forward in some good-natured ribbing via a televised phone interview from the TNT studio in Atlanta. "Kevin, in fairness, we didn't want to break your heart on TV," Barkley started. "You've been punk'd. You didn't really make the team." Replied Durant, over a sea of laughter from the studio, "That's messed up, man."