Thunder Streak Ends at Eight in D.C.

The night just had a weird feel to it from the get go. As the Thunder were playing the Wizards in D.C.–Caligula was addressing the Roman Senate as to the state of the Union. The state of the Union is fairly simple, on February 8th, for the second time in less than month, the U.S. government will most likely shut down again. There’s your state of the union.

But the basketball game was just kind of blah. You had the feeling from early on the Thunder were running on empty and the fumes just weren’t going to be there in the end to make enough plays to beat the Wizards even though they were without their best player in John Wall. It wasn’t like the Wizards really did all that much, they just survived at the end with OKC handing them a win which Scott Brooks was in serious need of. Billy Donovan… Scott Brooks says thank you very much.

The final score was 102-96 and in reality the Thunder still could have won this game in this last minute, but just kind of deflated. And it in no way had anything to do with Andre Roberson not being there because the Wizards for the game struggled from the field and beyond the arc shooting the ball. They almost shot the ball as poorly as the Thunder did in fact.

Just so we’re clear, Alex Abrines played an unimaginable 12:32 and was +9. So, it’s not like I can even blame Billy Donovan for enabling Sam Presti with this whole thing about making the Abrines deal work because it was part of the Harden trade package the Thunder got from the Rockets. Even I can’t do that on my rogue blog.

If you want to blame someone for this loss, it’s pretty much squarely on the shoulders of Russell Westbrook…as in he had a bad night. Bad Little Dude looked worn out to me. All the chest pumping and fuck yous to Joel Embiid on Sunday appeared to have emptied his tank. In what was an otherwise MVP month of January for Westbrook–he pretty much sucked against the Wizards going 5/18 from the field and committing 7 turnovers against a white guy with a name I’m not even familiar with. As a team, the Thunder shot 37.8% from the field and committed 21 turnovers. That will get you beat against the Sacramento Kings or Atlanta Hawks. Storyline.

So what I’m saying is…this was one of those weird nights that while Caligula was addressing the nation Alex Abrines outplayed Russell Westbrook. Too bad Joel Embiid doesn’t read my blog cause he’d be grinning his ass off right now.

Fuck it, the streak is over. That’s the life of an NBA regular season. The Thunder end the month of January at 10-4 which is acceptable. You move on, you get a breathe of fresh air and reset for the month of February.

I mean, let’s be candid here, the NBA minus Golden State doesn’t have a great team per se. And the only reason they have a great team is Jerry West stole Kevin Durant from Sam Presti. What I’m saying here… there’s no reason OKC can’t or shouldn’t be a Top Six team in this league even with the loss of Andre Roberson.

OKC at Denver on Thursday night. The Thunder need to get a win and start another streak. It’s that simple…even if it’s just a mini streak leading into February 6th in Oakland.

Jerry West Trades Blake Griffin to Pistons

I was going to write today on how Jerami Grant, Josh Huestis, and Terrance Ferguson are going to have to by committee replace Andre Roberson for the duration of this season, but then I saw this trade the Clippers and the Detroit Pistons just made and I think I’ll pass on the initial thought.

So…Jerry West and Lawrence Frank just traded Blake Griffin and his newly signed massive contract to the Detroit Pistons in return for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, and two draft picks. DeAndre Jordan is expected to be traded as well before the deadline as is Lou Williams. So, it’s clear what Jerry West has decided is that this season is over for the Clippers and with all this cap space they just created they plan on some major free agent acquisitions.

Which of course makes me think of Paul George the Cali youngster who grew up as a Clipper fan. Jerry West is in the process of doing a makeover of the Clippers. He has realized they made a huge mistake with the contract they gave to Blake Griffin this summer. What he realized is that even though Blake was the face of his franchise, he’s not a player who can be the ‘guy’ for a championship level team.

Blake Griffin has become a Cali guy since he left the Sooners. He loves the beach. Now he finds himself in Detroit with Andre Drummond and the minimalist Reggie Jackson. Maybe Blake will find himself in Detroit. We’ll see.

But from a Thunder perspective–what Jerry West now has in his possession as a possible trade for Sam Presti does indeed draw my interest.

Tobias Harris is a swing player who’s having the best season of his career. Avery Bradley is a guard who defends like Andre Roberson, but who can actually shoot the basketball. Both of these guys alongside of Westbrook and Adams would be interesting to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, I want Paul George to stay. I love him as a player, but with February 8th looming and still no word of a contract between the Thunder and Paul George…I’m just thinking to myself what would a trade look like which sends Paul George and Alex Abrines to the Clippers for Tobias Harris, Lou Williams rental, and Detroit’s first round draft pick.

Just a thought.

Thunder Make a Statement With Win Over Sixers

Eighteen days ago, after a brutal loss to Minnesota, the Thunder had lost three games in succession to Phoenix, Portland, and Minnesota. It was an ugly, almost completely unwatchable stretch of basketball. In all three losses, Billy Donovan cleared his bench early and waved the white flag. In my mind, it was the worse three games in a row in the Thunder era in Oklahoma City. It had a PJ Carlisemo feel to it. It really did.

But since that fateful stretch of games, OKC has won eight games in a row and saved their season. It would not be a crazy statement to say right now the four teams in the NBA playing the best ball are Golden State, Oklahoma City, Houston, and Boston. That wouldn’t be crazy talk. My NBA Power Poll would be those four teams plus the Cleveland Cavs and Toronto Raptors as the six teams in the league with a ‘chance’ to win the championship this season. I cannot believe I’m writing this in that on January 10th after the loss to Minnesota–I wrote that the Thunder had no chance to win the Northwest Division, let alone the O’Brien Trophy.

But here the Thunder sit eighteen days later as winners of eight straight letting it be known they could actually be the second best team in the entire NBA heading towards February. One could even make the call the Thunder are currently playing the best ball in the league right now. One could say that with a straight face.

A team which three weeks ago looked like they didn’t care enough or feign interest in half of their games is now playing with a chip on their collective shoulders and is on fire. The Thunder are now 10-3 in the month of January and 22-8 overall since December 1st.

On Sunday evening inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder had every excuse to be a no show. It was their third game in four nights and the second game in a back to back with the imagery of Andre Roberson pulling himself along the floor still raw in their minds. A heartless performance very well would have happened perhaps three weeks ago, but not on this night, not with this Thunder.

Instead this Thunder fought, bled, scratched, and clawed their way to their eighth straight win with a rousing 122-112 win over the trash talking Sixers. It was simply a helluva game with an energized crowd which was of course energized by the reigning MVP…Russell Westbrook. Bad Little Dude was once again incredible as he went for 37 points, 9 rebounds, 14 assists, and multiple chest pumps and ‘fuck yous’ to the Philly bench. It was as good as anything we saw last year when Westbrook weaved magic upon the basketball world in breaking Oscar’s record.

More to the point, since December 1st, there’s no reason to rule out Russell Westbrook from this season’s MVP race if the Thunder continue their upward spiral. Tell me who’s been better or more valuable to his team than Westbrook in this stretch of 22-8 ball? The answer is… no one. Russell Westbrook has been the best player in the league for the last sixty days or so.

But it’s not just Westbrook. Paul George started playing with a consistent edge. Carmelo figured out his role and has made the transition from not being the best player on a bad team to being the third or fourth best player on a championship contender. And then there’s Steven Adams. In these last sixty days– Steven Adams has emerged as one of the elite centers in the league.

But what would OKC do without their defensive stopper in Andre Roberson for the first time since the win streak started against the Sixers in this game? What they did was bear down, play mentally tough as one, and find ways as a team to beat a good Philadelphia team. A playoff caliber Philly team.

Combined, OKC’s Big Four combined for 102 points. The only other Big Four in the league right now resides in Oakland. And don’t think the Thunder and their fans haven’t been salivating to play the Warriors twice in the month of February since the Thunder’s blowout win on November 22nd. If OKC takes care of business between now and then the best two teams in the NBA could conceivably be playing each other on February 6th.

This will give the Billy Donovan four more games to figure out how best to redistribute Andre Roberson’s minutes between Terrance Ferguson, Josh Huestis, and Jerami Grant. Again, Alex Abrines is a non-starter for me in this conversation–he shouldn’t be on the floor except as an occasional three point specialist in very narrow windows of play. He cannot defend without fouling.

On this night–Terrance Ferguson struggled while both Jerami Grant and Josh Huestis looked equal to the task. Especially Jerami Grant—who I thought played one of his better games of the season. I would think this will be a continual process where Billy Donovan tinkers with combinations of minutes depending on the night and the opponent.

So… here we sit fifty games in and the Thunder have revealed themselves to not be frauds. At this moment they are the hottest team in the league playing like a team with something to prove to the world.

Tuesday night in Washington D.C. the Thunder go for their 9th in a row versus the Wizards.

A season has been saved. The expectations have been reset. Being a Thunder fan is a special feeling again.

Winning is fun.

Andre’s Big Shoes to Fill

You win championships with defense. That’s where it starts. Golden State is a really good defensive team when it matters, Houston not so much. That might be one of the reasons the Warriors are where they are and were there even before Durant joined them.

You’ll notice in this video Andre makes plays against the best players in the world with regularity. He’s OKC’s best defensive player and Russell Westbrook’s partner in offensive transition. Big shoes to fill.

Thunder Win 7th Straight in Detroit, Lose Andre for Season

Tough. Tough to watch the play which took Andre Roberson down. Even tougher to watch the immediate aftermath as his teammates came to his side with looks which told it all. That being, Andre Roberson’s season is most likely over with what is being speculated as a ruptured patellar tendon injury. I won’t put the video of the injury on my blog. I can’t watch it again. I won’t.

Westbrook, Adams, and Andre are the core three of this team for Thunder fans who know anything. No, Andre isn’t part of the elite thing called the Big Three, but for those of us who never miss Thunder games, we know what just happened. What happened is OKC just lost the soul of its defensive identity and one of the best defenders in the NBA. OKC lost the player who would have guarded James Harden in the playoffs or Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler or Andre Wiggins or at times even Kevin Durant.

What OKC will lose if indeed this is a season ending injury—is a major piece of its team. But more than that, it lost for this season a solid human. A player who without fanfare did his job. A guy his teammates and coaches love. And if you’re a knowledgeable fan–you know the season and the manner in which Billy Donovan coaches this team just took a big hit. Billy Donovan just lost his blue collar junkyard dog defender who does so many little things which don’t show up on a box score it’s pointless to list them all.

Some might say OKC will be a better offensive team with I’m to presume Terrance Ferguson starting in place of Roberson. Good luck with that. So much of what Roberson does on the defensive end enables OKC to get in transition and gives Russell Westbrook and Paul George time to breathe and get their space in transition. Basketball is like hockey in that offense is started by what you do on the defensive end of the floor in transition in breakout mode. From this point forward, Billy Donovan will have to rethink somewhat how he’s going to coach this team the remaining 33 games of the regular season and beyond into the playoffs. Especially, the playoffs where the pace of the game slows a bit and individual matchups are highlighted even more than in regular season games.

I’d probably start Terrance Ferguson and use Josh Huestis more minutes to try and deal with this Andre-less situation coming down the stretch. Billy Donovan might have to use them as a situational tandem of sorts. But that’s would I do. In no way does this have me bringing Alex Abrines back on the floor for anything beyond spot minutes here and there as a three point specialist. Go nine with the rotation with Abrines as a floater sub and pray. But I’d shorten my rotation to nine.

What a bummer recap. The Thunder won their 7th straight in Detroit by a score of 121-108 to improve to 29-20 for the season. Wouldn’t you know it, just as it appeared the ‘turn’ to the season finally occurred this happened. But there is a silver lining. As I watched the aftermath of Andre’s injury with him laying there what I observed was a close team. A group of guys who seem to care for one another and have fought through this season of ups and downs and developed a sense of respect for one another. That’s what I saw. That’s good. This isn’t like in Cleveland where the team is shitting on each other. It made me feel good about the team. It gave me hope about the character of the team.

No rest for the weary. The Thunder host the Sixers tomorrow in Oklahoma City. That’s the way the NBA works. It’s a grind. Terrance Ferguson gets an even bigger opportunity than when Andre sat some games earlier this season with a sore knee. But this time, it isn’t a fill in spot, it’s for the rest of the season just as the Thunder were hitting their stride. Terrance Ferguson and Josh Huestis have big shoes to fill. Billy Donovan has to change the nuance of his team.

But again, as tough a day as it was in Detroit, the thing which gives me hope is what I saw from the team as one… and three weeks ago I didn’t know if that was possible with this team.

Come even closer together as a team. Next guy up. That guy is Terrance Ferguson and it’s his time. Pull together and figure it out.

Beat Philadelphia.

Get well, Andre. As a fan base we love you and what you stand for. Seriously. Our prayers are with you.

Will America Find Itself in the Mid-Terms?

I think we’re headed for some very tumultuous days in the coming months. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to state a constitutional crisis is looming. Perhaps, the greatest challenge since the Civil War and the preservation of the Union.

The Russians meddled in our election. It does remain debatable whether the Russians by themselves defeated Hillary Clinton, but they definitely mettled in the election.

The aftermath must delight the Russians.

We elected an immoral human junk bond. Our institutions have run a ground. We can only confirm a Supreme Court justice with a nuclear confirmation. We cannot come to terms with a budget. The Republican Party after wholeheartedly endorsing Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor is now probably going to leave him hanging on his own findings. Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy have done the unthinkable…they actually have made Ted Cruz look like a decent human being.

We sit on a cusp per se of historical tumult.

The Dems better find themselves a spokesman and in a hurry because in essence the midterms in the House will probably decide the direction this country takes moving forward.

If only the Paul Newman character Frank Galvin were running for a Senate seat in 2018. This is something akin to what the Dems closing statement should be as the country heads towards November.

Caligula Ordered Firing of Mueller in June, 2017

I honestly try to ignore Donald Trump as much as possible. He’s not a person I ever took seriously before or after his ascendancy to the presidency. I don’t blame the Russians. I don’t blame James Comey. I blame the 60 million or so who voted for this human junk bond. That’s who I blame. Donald Trump had sixty million co-conspirators. How these people choose to rationalize their vote is up to them as they deal with the issues of if they actually believe in anything beyond having control of the Supreme Court and/or allowing America’s richest to get a tax break when for the previous eight years all we heard was in reference to the debt and being deficit hawks. So much for that.

So…yesterday a story written by Maggie Haberman from the NY Times was published citing four sources. The story asserts that our boy Caligula ‘ordered’ the firing of Robert Mueller by White House legal counsel Don McGahn in June of 2017. McGahn threatened to quit before doing this and Caligula’s handlers walked their puppet back down off the ledge of stupidity.
Now, in essence with the filmed admission of obstruction of justice which Caligula freely admitted to in the Lester Holt interview –there’s this. Ya think Bob Mueller will have or already has a deposed version of this from a lawyer named Don McGahn?

Anyway, for the sake of history and something to log on here in reference to Caligula’s Rise and Fall….here’s Anthony Scaramucci trying to clean up after Donald Trump. You can have all the law degrees in the world from Harvard, but if your client is unrepresentable then it doesn’t matter. You just have a really bad client.

Jimmy Kimmel will have Ivanaka look alike porn star Stormy Daniels on his show the night of the State of the Union. I’m sure the Christian Coalition and Family Values crowd will be watching. Who knows..maybe even the Boy Scouts of America will be filming it for a lead in to Caligula’s next address to the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree.

Bad Little Dude Leads Thunder Past Wizards for 6th Straight, 121-112

There are no style points in this NBA. Every night is a different script per se. But on this night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, the script was simple…Russell Westbrook took his team by the reigns and led them to a wire to wire 121-112 win over the Washington Wizards.

On this night, it was vintage Westbrook. It was MVP Westbrook. It was a Westbrook who despite not being an All-Star Starter this one of the game’s top five players. Explain that to me, how one of the game’s top five players isn’t an All-Star starter? You can’t. The answer is simple–the All-Star game is a joke. That’s the answer.

Anyway, Westbrook scored a season high 46 points on a 19-29 shooting night. Twenty-one of his points came in the forth period as Rickey Vaughn went 9-11 shooting the basketball. But on this night, Westbrook wasn’t just the closer. More to the point, he was the starter, the middle reliever, and the closer.

Bradley Beal, a Sam Presti covet from way back to his Florida Gator days with Billy Donovan, had 41 points for the Wizards despite being kicked in the balls by Steven Adams. Go figure.

The win propels the Thunder to a season best 28-20 mark. It is the Thunder’s sixth straight win and keeps them in touch with Minnesota and San Antonio in the standings.

Paul George and Carmelo both had quiet nights going a combined 10-30 from the field. Steven Adams double doubled with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Ray Felton was solid. Jerami Grant looked better offensively going 3-4 from the field. Terrance Ferguson played 24 minutes and scored 11 points on a 3-6 night from beyond the arc. I thought it was Ferguson’s second best performance as a pro. The Alex Abrines experiment is over. Terrance Ferguson has become a piece of the rotation.

The Thunder move forward into January with an 8-3 mark. The six game win streak is the league’s current longest streak.

While LeBron and the Cavs seem on the verge of anarchy, Russell Westbrook is making his sales pitch to Paul George to become his permanent Thunder buddy. It’s a goofy league. Some of it makes no sense. But right now the Thunder are trending…and in the right direction.

The Thunder are in Detroit on Saturday for a 4:00pm start to play the struggling Pistons.


Should Paul George Be on the All-Star Team?

First off, the NBA All-Star Game is something I pay as little attention to as possible except for the dunk and three point contests. Otherwise, it’s not worth watching. It’s a piece of junk where as a fan I worry that a Thunder player could actually get injured and miss time coming out of the break.

Putting that aside, I’m to assume the goal of the game is to highlight the best twenty-five or so players in the world and showcase them to the world in this gala Oscar-like production.

Okay. In my view the OKC Thunder has two maybe three players on their roster who I would easily rank in my Top 13 players of the league if I were a GM and putting a real team together for a real seven game series against say…the Golden State Warriors this post season.

After watching Paul George for 47 games, from my acute Thunder view, Paul George would easily make this thirteen man team. In fact, he would be one of the most valuable components of my team. My only complaint of Paul George as a Thunder fan is that he has coasted at times this season in games against lesser teams. But when the Thunder have played Golden State, Houston, Cleveland, Toronto, and Boston (first half) he’s been stellar. In the marquee games he’s been one of the best players in the league displaying his overall versatility. When Paul George brings his A game, in a word–it is breathtaking.

His stats this season are All-Star worthy even though the Thunder’s 27-20 record seems to be more of an indictment of him than is probably fair.

His stats are solid… 20.9 points a game, 5.6 rebounds a game, 3 assists a game, 2.1 steals a game (leads the league), and a PER rating of 18.3, 42.2% shooting the three ball. If I were a GM asked to put together a team of All-Stars to beat Golden State–Paul George would probably rank in my top five most valuable pieces to beat the punk Warriors.

So… who would be on my 13 man team to beat the Warriors?

I’ll rank in order of value my from my view.

1 LeBron
2 Kyrie
3 Russell (2&3 interchange with me but I didn’t want to be viewed as a homer)
4 Paul George
5 Kawhi (when healthy)
6 James Harden (Sixth Man, ha)
7 Crazy Greek Boy
8 Anthony Davis
9 Al Horford
10 Jimmy Butler
11 Steven Adams
12 Clint Capela
13 Aaron Gordon

This would be my roster. At times–Westbrook and Kyrie would not be on the floor together. At times they would, at times they wouldn’t. When together–I want Kyrie at the point and Russell as my tough, rugged hybrid guard using his physicality to back people down. I want both of them exploiting Steph Curry on the defensive end every time they can within the flow of the game. I want James Harden as my Sixth Man. I’ll use combinations of LeBron and Paul George to wear Cupcake down. I’ll make Durant work his ass off every second on the defensive end when he’s on the floor. I’ll put a healthy Kawhi on Klay Thompson or maybe use to Kawhi to grind some on Curry as well when he’s the hybrid guard. You notice I have Adams and Capela on my team. I want two different centers with completely different skill sets to give me what ever I need against the Warriors whether I play big or small. My bench of Harden, Crazy Greek Boy, AD, Butler, and Horford will not allow Steve Kerr much if any breathing space with his suspect bench. Aaron Gordon is my floater. He gives me roster flexibility depending on the flow of the game.

I like my team. I’d love to coach this team with Nick Collison and I think we’d kick the Warriors’ ass in five games.

This is the what the NBA All-Star Game should be. This matchup would hold my interest.

No one has been tougher on Paul George and the Thunder as a whole than me for their coasting so far this season. But the notion that Paul George isn’t on this year’s All-Star team is ludicrous. I have him No. 4 on my wish list to beat the punk ass Warriors.