Game 18: OKC Thunder @ Atlanta Hawks Preview

The Thunder in Atlanta tonight to play the Atlanta Hawks. Hawks currently at 11-8 and the seventh seed. Atlanta should have a nice season, but hard to envision them as a serious championship contender to take it all in the East. Atlanta comes in off a twenty point loss at San Antonio on Saturday night and are 4-6 in their last ten games.

OKC enters tonight carrying a four game winning streak going 7-3 in their last ten. With Kevin Durant’s return—the Thunder have settled down somewhat and have played good enough in fourth quarters to win four straight games and improve to 11-6.

Two good teams playing tonight, but both teams not really where they want to be as far as overall level of play.

Hawks lost Demare Carroll from their core of a year ago which should help Kevin Durant have a pretty good night. Paul Milsap, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague remain the core, while Dennis Shroeder, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Thabo, Mike Scott and Mike Muscala round out the Hawk primary rotations.

OKC needs to continue playing better team defense, moving the ball, keeping Serge Ibaka involved offensively, and trying to stay within a reasonable distance of  San Antonio for the second seed in the West. Find a way to win and get better defensively.


2008—There’s Only One Oklahoma Mix

Back to the year 2008 when Oklahoma sports were ruled by college football and college sports in general. Not the case since the arrival of the Thunder, but still OU football is at the least on a par with the Thunder as far as statewide sports relevance. Never since the arrival of the Thunder has OU football seriously contended for a national championship entering the month of December until this season.


I love this video. It represents so much of what Oklahomans value in sport.

Sooners Win Bedlam — Should Advance to National Final Four

With OU’s 58-23 win over Oklahoma State in Bedlam–OU football for the first time  since 2008 and the Thunder’s arrival in Oklahoma City head into the month of December as a viable national championship contender.

In 2008, Sam Bradford won the Heisman and OU advanced the National Championship Game against Urban Meyer’s Florida’s Gators. OU lost that game 24-14, but it was basically a one possession game. Interestingly, OU lost to Texas 38-28 to Texas that same season, but like this season, ran the table to advance. Guess beating or losing to Texas really doesn’t mean that much anymore.

Before the Thunder’s arrival in Oklahoma–OU football ruled the sports roost with its iconic brand and national championship heritage. Not so since the Thunder’s arrival in 2008 as a kid from the University of Texas named Kevin Durant has taken claim as the most important sports person in the state.

So–for the first time since 2008, OU football and Thunder basketball share the limelight in Oklahoma heading towards Christmas.

Oklahomans have a deep rooted passion for their sports teams and this sports year could be special.

Durant Steals the Show in Reggie’s Return to OKC

OKC Thunder 103 — Detroit Pistons 87

Current Detroit Piston and ‘sometime’ minimalist Reggie Jackson returned to Oklahoma City to play against his former mates for the first time since he and his agent pretty much gave Sam Presti an ultimatum at last year’s trade deadline. The much anticipated Reggie Jackson-Russell Westbrook mano y mano never materialized though as both got into foul trouble and were both borderline horrible on the night.

As expected—Jackson was booed without mercy as if he were Ron Artest, Patrick Beverly or even the douche bag Bill Simmons. The OKC crowd was not ambiguous with their reaction to Jackson–pretty much saying, “You suck and we hate you”.  I have to admit I didn’t boo because I don’t feel Reggie Jackson is boo worthy, but I did smile amidst the booing.

It didn’t matter that Westbrook fouled out and perhaps played his worst game of the season with an 11 turnover  atrocity of a game because No. 35 for the Thunder was in a word…. sublime.

On nights like this, you realize just how lucky you are to be witnessing one of the most efficient, natural scorers in the history of the game. You realize that Kevin Durants don’t come around all that often even to big city markets, let alone sleepy NBA outposts like Oklahoma City. You just pinch yourself and enjoy the evening  in Mystery, Alaska with the locals.

On the night, Kevin Durant scored 34 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, handed out five assists, and blocked three shots. With Westbrook too hyped up to eviserate (spelling?) Reggie Jackson and delight the crowd like a bullfighter going for the kill–Durant had to carry the load on this night and more than delivered the goods in an OKC 103-87 win over the Pistons.

Kevin Durant is easily my OKCThunderGround No. 1 Star of the Game.

OKC’s defense wasn’t very good in the first half and the Thunder trailed 55-48 at halftime. But in the second half it was a different story as OKC held the Pistons to 32 points and an 11-46 shooting performance. Behind much better team defense and Kevin Durant—OKC ground the life out of Detroit by a 55-32 margin in the second half. There was no drama needed at the end as OKC improved to 11-6 and garnered its first four game winning streak of the season.

Other things:

  • Steven Adams despite playing with what looks like a dead animal nailed to his head—grabbed 13 rebounds and scored eight points on a 4-5 shooting night.
  • Serge Ibaka was solid going 7-8 from the field and blocking four shots.
  • Kanter chipped in 14 points and filled his bench role.
  • DJ Augustin was needed with Russell having an off night and was what I would describe as a functional backup point guard.
  • Waiters had an off shooting night but did other things pretty well.
  • Morrow only played eight minutes and basically did nothing except make sure Kyle Singler never saw the floor—and rate a 6.6 on the MSKSNSTF metric.
  • Thought Billy Donovan did a nice job. He seems to be gradually getting a better feel for his ball club.
  • Quiet night for Nick Collison.
  • For the first time this season Andre Drummond didn’t grab at least ten rebounds.
  • Reggie shot 4-16 and was -20.
  • Combined—Reggie and Drummond shot 11-32 in the game.
  • Marcus Morris has one of the best beards in the NBA and led the Pistons with 17 points.
  • Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks would have helped Detroit in this game.

Next up–at the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

Mike Jackson


Game 17: Detroit Pistons @ OKC Thunder Preview

Horrible weather in Oklahoma City currently. Cold, icy, and windy. Just horrible weather.  I’ll be sitting behind the OU bench tomorrow at the Bedlam  football game with some O State friends. Might actually include a Bedlam recap tomorrow night with the Thunder being idle till Monday after tonight’s game against the Pistons.  Big sports week-end in Oklahoma. A Bedlam game with OU literally playing for its first appearance ever in the relatively new Final Four Tournament format. Plenty of hot coffee and Jack Daniels to be consumed tomorrow night. Look forward to having a conversation with Joe Mixon. OU a seven point road favorite in a rivalry game which has had spectacular finishes of late.

But tonight it’s Thunder basketball in Oklahoma City as the Detroit Pistons and Reggie Jackson make their only appearance this season at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

OKC enters as the three seed in the West with a 10-6 mark. Detroit as the eighth seed in the East with an 8-7 mark. Both teams coming off mid week wins, both teams rested. Detroit coming off a nice win over the Miami Heat. The Thunder in the midst of their third three game winning  streak of the season in search of their first four game winning streak of the season.

Reggie Jackson matchup against Russell Westbrook will get the pregame noise, but what I’m going to be looking at is whether OKC’s bigs can handle Andre Drummond in the paint. Drummond comes in averaging 18 points and 18 rebounds a game with a current PER of 25.2. He’s a load who should give Ibaka, Adams and Collison all they want and more.

Detroit with coach Stan van Gundy have a fairly nice roster with Jackson, Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ersan Illyasova, Marcus Morris Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes, Anthony Tolliver, Spencer Dinwiddie, Steve Blake and Reggie Bullock.

Pistons enter tonight averaging 97 points a game while giving up 96 points a game. OKC at 109.8 and 103.8 respectively. Pace will favor OKC if they can get out in transition with Westbrook leading the break.

OKC with Kevin Durant back in the lineup these last two games has scored 110 both games.

Several things I would look at tonight…1 Westbrook vs Jackson matchup, 2 can OKC’s bigs hold their own against Andre Drummond, 3 will Kentavius Caldwell – Pope light up OKC’s still suspect perimeter defense, 4 will OKC be able to dicate a faster pace which is more in their offensive comfort zone, and 5 will Serge Ibaka continue to play better since Durant’s return to the lineup.

Waiters and Morrow’s combined efficiency is something else I have circled to keep track of as the night moves along. Plus, will Billy D be trotting out that small ball lineup of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Waiters and Morrow.

Should be a good game

Reggie Jackson Detroit Pistons Contract Presser — July 2015

I’m indifferent to Reggie. He’s a nice kid basically who just didn’t want to be Russell Westbrook’s backup. In the end he’s not a villain of any sort, but by the same token not a player I’ll ever have any attachment to over the course of his career. In the end — you can’t fault a guy for wanting  a chance to start and be paid market value. I hope the OKC fans don’t boo him tonight. You should boo guys like Greg Hardy or the such, but not a nice kid like Reggie Jackson. Hope Oklahoma City doesn’t embarrass itself tonight because he never did anything like Joe Mixon or Ray Rice. Just wanted a chance to be his own man. Hard to fault a guy long term for that alone.


Thoughts on the Sonics Move to Oklahoma City

I’m not the average Thunder fan in OKC. I’d been a fervent NBA fan for about forty-five years before hurricane Katrina caused the New Orleans Hornets to play two seasons in Oklahoma City. My two favorite teams were the Sixers in the East and the Portland Trailblazers in the West. My single favorite team of all-time was the 1977 Portland team with Jack Ramsey, Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and a group of no names who actually beat my Sixers in six games to claim the NBA championship. To date–that team is still my favorite NBA team. My second favorite team would be the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011-12 when they reached the NBA Finals by beating the San Antonio Spurs in the West to advance.

I never wear one of the community based themed T shirts when I attend Thunder games. Never have once. Never will. I’m not there to share anything communal or biblical. I’m there to watch the best basketball players in the world display their talents as some of the most gifted athletes in the world. Call me narrow or callous if you will, but I’m there to watch basketball and maybe some dogs do a really great halftime show every now and then.

So I think what I’m about to write is fairly objective about why Seattle lost their basketball team. Seattle primarily lost their basketball team because Howard Schultz was a piece of shit professional sports owner  who never should have owned a professional sports team in the first place. Even his best player and probably the most long standing face of the modern Sonics–Gary Payton- would agree with me on this. To me–Howard Schultz should be the primary focus of Sonics’ fans angst for the loss of their team.

Give me a break–how dumb can you be or more importantly how dumb do you think the rest of the world is in believing when Shultz sold his team for a nice market price he actually believed Clay Bennett and a group of Oklahoma based owners had any interest whatsoever in owning a team in Seattle. This same group had just fallen short of buying out George Shinn’s interest in the New Orleans team. So why in the world would they be looking to own in Seattle? They weren’t and never had any intention of doing so. Hopefully—if some Sonic fans somehow  stumble upon my obscure blog this admission from a guy living in Deer Creek, Oklahoma will be cathartic for you. Clay Bennett and Co. had every intention of moving your team from the second Howard Schultz said yes. So there.

Add to the mix the incompetence of Seattle mayor Greg Nikkel of dealing with the Stern issues. Plus the continual objections of Washington State Speaker of the House Frank Chopp to any kind of arena deal which would have satiated David Stern and you have the perfect storm for what transpired. People like Bill Simmons and Steve Kelly can paint Bennett as a villain all they want, but in the end Clay Bennett from my perspective just happened to be the person who David Stern used to rid him of Seattle’s own indifference to the Sonics.

Not trying to be callous, but unless you’re living in Green Bay and the team is owned by the fans–this is the modern world of sports ownership we live in. It’s a big business. A very big business and as Clay Bennett and his ownership group are about to discover–their franchise could conceivably go splat if Durant and Westbrook opt out of Oklahoma City in the summers of 2016 and 2017. I can assure you this about Oklahoma sports fans–they won’t tolerate bad teams. The T shirts and the communal thing will only go so far—so Clay Bennett better do what Howard Schultz didn’t…namely keep his best players paid at what the market dictates.

Therein this bring us full circle within the economic cycle–the NBA is a big business with huge payouts attached to owners, players, and cities. I don’t think it’s completely outrageous to call it a whore business. And the simple truth is Seattle can’t hide from the fact they tried to do to the city of Sacramento the very thing they condemn Clay Bennett for doing to Seattle. Basically–taking another city’s team because of community indifference to the host city team.

It’s a big business. The world can be cruel. Bill Simmons go away and die under a rock. I’ve said my piece on this. Moving forward with the season.

The end.

Mike Jackson