Game recap to follow later today.
Mayberry's post-game nuggets. First up was the clear evidence that Serge Ibaka was ready to play hard last night, and he was critical in keeping the Hornets out of the paint. They were lacking Emeka Okefor and of course that had something to do with it, but in the second half, it wasn't just their bigs, but the Hornets guards as well that could not get anything going inside the paint.
Royce noticed the real turning point in the game. The Thunder had been down six going into the 3rd, and were up three with under a minute to play. That in itself, a nine point swing, would have been enough to make the Thunder faithful proud. But then, in a quick flourish, Kevin Durant scored six points, including a Kobe-esque baseline fade-away with 0.2 seconds left, to push the lead to nine. The Hornets never recovered.
Mayberry's post-game report. What might get lost amidst Kevin Durant's big night is this fact: in the 3rd quarter, the Thunder outscored the Hornets 32-17. They held the Hornets to 4-20 shooting and did not commit a single turnover, even after Russell Westbrook picked up his 4th foul with almost eight minutes to go in the quarter.
The guys At the Hive lament last night's Western Conference showdown. Their team hung tough, but their offensive inefficiency in the second half was their undoing. I'd contend that their issue wasn't really lack of defense, it seemed more to be that after David West, nobody else really had the ability to step up and provide consistent offense.
It is easy as an NBA fan to think, "What if the Thunder met the Bulls in the finals?" Certainly, it would be a tremendous match-up with youth, enthusiasm, and hungry team leaders dominating the landscape. It is also a virtual certainty that it won't happen, because by and large, teams with a heavy dose of veterans hoist the trophy.
More links after the jump.
Jenni Carlson takes a look at what makes Chris Paul makes fans cheer and opponents rage.
A look at the parallel arcs of Durant and Chicago's Derrick Rose. Another interesting parallel between the two players and their respective teams - they both had to go through the wilderness for a long time before these true leaders emerged.
It turns out that Heat-Thunder is quite the TV ratings draw in OKC, pulling in an 11.1. For the record, I have been to college and I have a post graduate degree, and I still don't completely understand how TV ratings work.
In case you missed it yesterday, Cole Aldrich was called back up from the Thunder's D-League team, the Tulsa 66ers. I imagine he was brought up because the Thunder thought he might have gotten some action against the Hornets. I wonder how much of a run he's going to get against their next opponent though, the Suns.