The Thunder have finished the month of March with the best record in Sonics/Thunder franchise history, going 14-2. I know that a lot of the games were against teams that are not competing for the playoffs, but as we saw against Toronto and Golden State, it is still difficult to beat even the poorer teams of the league. Maintaining that kind of concentration will serve them well as the regular season winds to a close.
(game recap coming later today)
So tell us about the game. No? Probably for the best. Suns fans have suffered enough this season.
Young writes about how the Thunder were mostly able to keep the Suns at arm's length for a majority of the game, and then really put the clamps down in the 4th. You could see it in the faces of the Suns players - they seemed to know that if they did not have the lead going into the 4th, they were going to run out of gas again.
This piece is a good analysis of the way Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together. In a word, not very well. But this is only in the sense that they have not yet had a synergistic effect on each other, the way we've seen some of the all-time greats like Bird and McHale or Jordan and Pippen play.
SB Nation blog BSOTS is a wee bit disgusted with the Suns' performance last night, and puts forth the commensurate effort in the recap. Great comments though.
Not Thunder-specific, but this is a really, really good bit of work by Fox Sports' Bill Reiter. Isiah Thomas is one of the most polarizing players of the past 20 years. Reiter gives him plenty of leeway to explain his positions, but you can never escape all of the strikes against Thomas' name. I personally don't buy the "exile" label because Thomas has received far too many cushy job opportunities despite his abysmal executive track record to ever be considered on the "outside." If he finds himself on the outside looking in, it's because he put himself there.
More links after the jump.
I personally liked how Scott Brooks left Kendrick Perkins in the game when the hack-a-Perk technique was employed. It was as risk-free a moment as any to get Perkins some in-game free throw attempts, and you could tell by his form and body language that he was gaining confidence in his shooting touch. I think it was a valuable moment, because in the playoffs he will be in pressure situations where he has to take and make those FT's.
Seth Pollack, GM of Bright Side of the Sun, reports on the reason why Zabian Dowdell and then Aaron Brooks were ejected at the end of last night's game.
Rohde looks for a decent quote to highlight win number 50, does not actually find one. It's business as usual.
This is an excellent post about what it feels like to be a fan of a mid-major college basketball team. VCU is of course Eric Maynor's alma mater, and the included video clip is of Maynor sending Duke home in the NCAA tournament. If you ever wonder how the Thunder found a guy like Maynor, who is about as perfect a backup point guard as you're going to find, this is part of the answer.
James Harden has come on strong in the second half of the season, and this story takes a little bit closer look at his background and what makes him such a good fit. Says GM Sam Presti:
"James is someone that values and is willing to be part of something. He has accepted a role and really focused on how his contributions will help the overall group. A lot of people verbalize this, but it is not often acted on."
Ziller puts forth a novel idea to make the playoffs more compelling, and it is truly rogue - he suggests only letting the best 16 teams in. He might be receiving a phone call from league office to reconsider.
This is a nice look at Nate Robinson's career in the NBA so far, and his ties to the state of Washington. He's not going to see many minutes this season, but if the 4th seed in the playoffs are locked up in the end he might get some token time in the final few games. Guys like him can and do make a difference when the playoffs roll around.
Here is a slideshow that examines who might qualify as the league's best shooters.