OKC Thunder @ Sacramento Kings Preview

OKC’s staggering Thunder in Sacramento tonight to take on the still psychotic Kings. Kings enter at 24-33 and firmly in command of the No. 10 seed in the West. Kings at 4-6 in their last ten and pretty much look like the same old Kings, but this team has given OKC fits this season so once again it’s not like the Thunder can just walk out there and claim a victory by showing up.

OKC comes off a great performance minus the final thirteen seconds of regulation against the Warriors on Saturday night. The Thunder played beautifully for almost 48 minutes before Kevin Durant’s costly turnover deprived the Thunder of a marquee quality win. Instead, OKC enters at 1-4 since the All-Star break and looking to get some positives heading into the stretch drive.

The Thunder begin the first of a four game road swing tonight which goes Sacramento, Clippers, Warriors, and Milwaukee.

Hard to believe but a Clippers team which has been without Blake Griffin for a substantial time is only two down in the loss column entering tonight.

Since the Foye trade, rookie Cameron Payne has pretty much sat the bench and it appears Donovan is going to go with a combination of Durant and Foye as the second unit point guards of sorts. I thought this was very smart against the Warriors because it deprived Shawn Livingston of just posting Payne down low like he did in the first Thunder-Warriors game.

Vegas has OKC as a 9 point road favorite with Rajon Rondo listed as questionable.

Very simple for OKC, they have to shake-off the nightmare ending against the Warriors and suck it up winning the next two against the Kings and Clippers.

3-1 should be the realistic goal for OKC on this four game road swing.



Andre Roberson a little slow on the closeout on Curry, not sure why Roberson was passive on the close out–but still a great shot by Steph Curry.







2016 Oscars

The show is too damn long. They should take about two-thirds of the awards and do like the Republicans did in the early debates when they held the pee wee debates with Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee where the audience didn’t have to waste their time on them. The main Oscar show should have about twelve awards and be maybe two hours long.

Chris Rock was great. Spotlight deservedly won best picture. Leo finally won his Oscar for what I think is about his third or fourth best performance in The Revenant while Brie Larson won Best Actress for Room. I liked the Girl Scouts Cookie deal. Joe Biden looked great. Lady Gaga was sublime and Michael Keaton needs to take the gum out of his mouth when he takes the stage. But the show is way too long.

Was It Donovan or Durant Who Blew It?

You see, this is the advantage of having a rogue blog where I don’t need off the record access to write my blog. I don’t have to kiss Clay Bennett, Sam Presti, Billy Donovan, or even the two stars’ asses to  maintain off the record access. In a word…I can be honest. What a novel concept—being honest. Who would have ever come up with this concept?

As I wrote in my blog recap last night, I said I’d be interested to see how the two primary beats in this market crafted their recaps given the fact Kevin Durant blew the game in the waning seconds of regulation.

Anthony Slater at newsoksport handled it just right. He featured it prominently and addressed it head on. Tough, but I thought fair towards Durant and Donovan. I’d give this an A.

Then I go over and read some nonsense on the Daily Thunder recap which in length seemed like something written by Tolstoy but never once even mentioned the Durant turnover and why the game even went to overtime. I’m sorry, but this gets a D- for basic storyline epic fail.

Pick it up over there at Daily Thunder, the writing needs to be stronger and on point. Stronger writing voices are needed–please address this.  Anthony Slater, Erik Horne, Tramel and I can’t do all the heavy lifting for you. If you want to be homers, blog with Nicky Gallo.

So—who’s fault was it? I would say Durant even though Billy Donovan showed a real chink in his armor in the Indiana game when he wasted that late timeout which basically deprived OKC of a possession with 5.1 seconds left in the game.

Last night Durant had the ball in his hands. He’s clearly the team’s closer and a great free throw shooter. This is his wheelhouse comfort zone. It was a simple play. Call the timeout, move the ball up court, and play the free throw game with the ball in Durant’s hands. Who the hell was he trying to pass to anyway–hopefully not Andre Roberson. Just a really bad play by Durant.

How tough is it to write this? Not tough if you’re not a homer blog pandering sunshine to the youth male demographic. Not tough at all.

And btw—I didn’t even mention Russell Westbrook’s dubious foul on Klay Thompson on the and one layup late in overtime which was really not a heady play at all. But clearly—the storyline was Durant’s turnover at the end of regulation which cost OKC its biggest win in almost two regular seasons of basketball.

So enough of this—OKC tomorrow night in Sacramento against the mentally imbalanced Kings.

Mike Jackson

Durant, Thunder Can’t Finish Warriors

Golden State Warriors 121 — OKC Thunder 118 OT

OKC’s Thunder played their hearts out on Saturday night against the historic Golden Warriors and should have won this basketball game, but instead a glaring mental mistake by Kevin Durant with twelve seconds left in regulation  cost the Thunder their best win in two seasons. It can’t be about moral victories for Durant and Westbrook in 2016, instead it has to be more about getting it done in the present tense.

It’s a simple play you see in almost every one possession NBA game. The Thunder were leading 101-99 and inbounded the ball under their basket. The ball went to Durant who usually would be fouled in this situation. But the Warriors didn’t want any part of the free throw game and suckered Durant into making a horrible pass at midcourt instead of calling timeout and moving the ball up court. The errant pass was ultimately corralled by Draymond Green. With less than a second left, Andre Iguodala ended up with the ball on the left elbow and was fouled by Durant with .7 left in regulation

Iguodala is a 61% free throw shooter, but he stepped up and coolly dropped both free throws to send the game to overtime and give Steph Curry five more minutes to do his thing. Moral of the story–when you have your foot on  Steph Curry’s throat , never give him a second life.

To make matters even worse, Kevin Durant fouled out of the game less than one minute into the overtime. But to Russell Westbrook and the Thunder’s credit they didn’t cave and actually led by three points with 33 seconds left in the overtime. But a driving layup by Klay Thompson and an and one tied the game–then that guy named Steph Curry hit a three inside midcourt with less than a second left to steal a game for his Warriors which Durant and his Thunder basically had won in regulation.

I’ll be curious when I read some of the Thunder beat writers if they write this aspect of the finish or just gloss over it saying how the Thunder turned a corner tonight. No corner was turned tonight—the Thunder lost a game they shouldn’t have lost. Period.

The Thunder did play markedly harder, but in the end this isn’t the Thunder in 2008 trying to learn how to win games during an inaugural 23-59 season, but rather a team with Durant and Westbrook at the point in their careers where they shouldn’t  lose games like this—even to Steph Curry.

Steph Curry was magnificent scoring 46 points and going 12-16 from behind the arc. He set the single game record for threes and broke his own mark of 286 threes in a season by reaching the 288 mark with 24 games left. Steph Curry is my No. 1 Star of the Game. Duh.

Klay Thompson struggled early, but got it going when it mattered and complimented Curry with 32 points of his own.

Draymond Green was just plain ornery. Green didn’t score the ball, but did have 14 rebounds and 14 assists. He and Durant barked at each other leaving the court at halftime—then according to ABC’s Lisa Salter barked at his teammates during a heated halftime locker room conversation. The Warriors trailed 57-46 at half and trailed by as many as fourteen points in the game, but again you never count Steph Curry out.

Except for the end, Kevin Durant was magnificent, but it’s how you do or don’t close which defines a superstar’s play. That’s just the way it is. Westbrook was mostly excellent, and Serge Ibaka had some great moments with 15 points, 20 rebounds and several big buckets in the game’s final eight minutes.

But in the end it’s a gut wrenching loss for Oklahoma City which should have been a win and the validation that the Thunder with Durant and Westbrook can beat any team on a given night. Instead, OKC is now 1-4 combined against the Warriors, Cavs, and Spurs…and the cloud surrounding this team is if they have the mental stuff to beat either the Spurs, Warriors, and Cavs four times in a two week span to win a series against any of the three–let alone all three in succession to claim an NBA crown. I would simply say—I don’t think so because they keep making dumb plays and teams which aren’t razor sharp mentally don’t win championships.

OKC now heads west for a tough three game road swing with stops in Sacramento, in LA against the Clips, and these very same Warriors on the second night of a road back to back.

The thought now isn’t just about losing this game, but coming back home after the west road swing still holding the No. 3 seed in the West.

Thunder in Sacramento on Monday night to play the Kings.

Mike Jackson

Game 59: Golden State Warriors @ OKC Thunder Preview

Back on February 6th all seemed relatively well in the world of Thunder. OKC traveled to Oakland and played decent losing 116-108 against these historic 52-5 Warriors. OKC actually had a chance to win the game until Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant made some murky offensive decisions on three straight possessions with the game hanging in the balance. But still, it was an encouraging night for the Thunder as it appeared they could hang with these Warriors on the road.

From that game forward the wheels have come off in Oklahoma City if wheels can actually come off in a seven game span. OKC is 3-4 and has given up 115 points or more in four of these games.

Last Sunday afternoon, LeBron came to town and his Cavs without Kyrie, Shumpert or Mo Williams literally toyed with the Thunder administering a 23 point beat down on ABC. Throw in Thursday night’s embarrassing 123-119 road loss to New Orleans with TNT analyst Charles Barkley calling OKC a team with little basketball smarts and not much defensive heart and the stage is set for a game the Oklahoma City Thunder really need to win if they want to be taken seriously.

And did I mention if OKC loses this game the LA Clippers are all the sudden only two games  down to the Thunder in the loss column?

Donald Trump and Bubble Boy were both in Oklahoma City yesterday campaigning for votes in Oklahoma’s Super Tuesday primary. Maybe some of Trump’s gold dust magic will rub off on the Thunder and they turn this around a bit. Maybe it gets to the point where oil is back over a hundred a barrel and Thunder fans get bored winning too many games. Just bullshitting there, but felt like I had to work Trump and Bubble Boy into the preview somehow since they were both in OKC yesterday. Feel free if you need to sigh on me, but I had to do it.

I’m tired of berating the Thunder’s abysmal defense on my rogue blog. It’s time for these guys to show some heart on that end of the floor or just admit as a team they don’t have the heart to be taken as a serious contender.

Put up or shut up. I’m tired of hearing excuses. Line in the sand game tonight at the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the Thunder.

Seems like an appropriate time to play the Pacino speech.


Wolf Blitzer Loses Control of Trump, Crazy Cruz, and Bubble Boy

This sequence started so innocently with Kasich deftly touching on various hot spots around the globe before it all came back to the Three Stooges. I will write this openly and not mince words—if a person votes for one of these three knuckleheads they should be found guilty of treason and incarcerated for a minimum of four years. Our country has hit rock bottom.


Lindsey Graham On the State of the GOP

I have to admit–I used to be a registered Republican. But then—as I was seeing the first hints of the party becoming what it is now, I changed my registration to Independent. I’m not an ideologue. I don’t feel like I’m asking for all that much. Just someone adult, honest, and qualified who doesn’t want to drastically modify the constitution or build big tall walls would be fine with me. I like John Kasich. I think he meets my standards, yet I know he stands as much of a chance as winning the White House as this Thunder team does of winning the O’Brien Trophy.

Maybe on Saturday morning –I’ll post the highlights of the dumpster fire GOP debate from Houston last night. All that was missing was Nero fiddling and Bristol Palin addressing the nation. Yet there was John Kasich all by himself actually answering policy questions which in no way means anything to anybody in the GOP obviously.

Looks like Lindsey Graham had too much to drink at a GOP roast, but he did make me smile and for a moment forget the Vegas odds stacked against John Kasich and a Thunder team which doesn’t play defense.

And, yes, Lindsey, your party has gone batshit crazy.


Thunder Show Little Interest In Playing Defense in New Orleans, Lose To Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans 123 — OKC Thunder 119

OKC’s Thunder on the second night of a road back to back showed why it’s unlikely this season will provide any kind of a deep run into late June. Namely, the team loafs defensively and doesn’t seem all that locked in on getting better in that regard. Tonight in New Orleans was further evidence as the Thunder lost to previously 22-34 New Orleans by a 123-119 count.

This isn’t a juggernaut offensive team the Pelicans put on the floor. They’ve been decimated by injury. They’re basically playing for nothing, and yet they were the team which played harder and looked like they cared.

Anthony Davis scored 30 points and is my No. 1 Star of the Game. He had some great help though from Ryan Anderson with 26 points, Jrue Holiday with 22 points, and the Pelican bench.

Durant and Westbrook both had massive offensive nights, but it doesn’t matter if you have no defensive leadership on the team. There appears to be no defensive leadership on this basketball team. When you score 119 points against a team averaging 103 points a game and lose…. the check engine light comes on, but unless the Thunder organization all have their heads in the sand—that light came on quite some time ago.

This basketball team is going absolutely nowhere because at this point you have to question if they have the collective defensive heart to go any further than the first round this spring.

It’s not a cliché, defense wins championships, yet the Thunder and their two stars don’t seem to buy into the axiom.

OKC drops to 41-17, yet 1-3 since the All-Star break when their schedule got markedly tougher and they started playing better teams.

I’m cutting this short tonight, the GOP debate in Houston was far more interesting than the Thunder effort in New Orleans. The post debate shows are on and there’s really no point going any further with this recap.

The Thunder host Golden State on Saturday night on ESPN.

Mike Jackson

Game 58: OKC Thunder @ New Orleans Pelicans Preview

Second night of a road back to back for OKC’s Thunder in New Orleans tonight. Last night was a good night for OKC as they won in Dallas while the LA Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets. OKC’s lead over the Clips now stands at four full games.

New Orleans is the most disappointing team in the league this season. Many thought this could be a breakout year for the Pels, but instead the team has been beset by injuries and enters tonight with a record of 22-34 under first year coach Alvin Gentry.

Tonight will be the final game of this season’s series between the two clubs. OKC won both meetings earlier this season in Oklahoma City by scores of 110-103 and 121-95.

Pelicans will be without Tyreke Evans, while the Thunder are at full strength with Andre Roberson back in the starting lineup.

New Orleans still has Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Ryan Anderson so the Thunder can’t just sleepwalk through tonight going thru the motions.

Last night was a rarity for Oklahoma City as options three thru six all had good nights on the same night against Dallas. Adams, Ibaka, Waiters, and Kanter were all good on the same night—that doesn’t happen often enough.

Waiters was good, but I thought Steven Adams’ third period was special as well. He probably should have been my co-No. 1 Star of the Game. It’s fun watching Adams grow up as a player. He’s very close in my eyes to becoming OKC’s third best player.

Same mantra for OKC tonight should be the talk by Billy Donovan–namely getting something solid out of these four players.

Randy Foye played 22 minutes last night, it will be interesting to see if his rotation minutes become secure or if Donovan just gave up early on Cam Payne because he couldn’t stay with JJ Barea.

Vegas has OKC as a 5.5 to 6 point road favorite tonight.


Thunder Snap Two Game Skid, Sweep Season Series With Mavs

OKC Thunder 116 — Dallas Mavs 103

OKC’s Thunder snapped their two game post All-Star Game swoon and avoided their second three game losing streak of the season by beating the Mavs in Dallas by a score of 116-103. The win gives the Thunder a four game series sweep of Dallas and somewhat washes away the bad taste of Sunday’s home loss to Cleveland.

As usual, OKC was led by Kevin Durant and Westbrook who both scored 24 points, but in this game it was more of a case of Dion Waiters, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter all contributing as they should if OKC is to have any hope of making any kind of run this post season.

Ibaka had 13 points and 8 rebounds. Kanter 14 points and 9 rebounds. Adams 15 points of which 11 came in the third period as he set a personal best scoring mark in a period as a pro. But the No. 1 Star of the Game goes to the oft criticized Dion Waiters who answered all his haters with a bounce back game in which he went 5-8 from the field and scored 11 of his 14 points in the fourth period.

Donovan’s rotations at the guard position were interesting tonight for sure. Andre Roberson returned and scored 4 points on 1-5 in 21 minutes and was one of only two Thunder players with a negative rating of -5. But, hey, in the world of internet metrics ‘he was the difference.’ Sigh. But seriously, I like Roberson and some of what he brings to the table, but until he learns how to shoot a basketball there are limitations to what he can contribute. But it’s nice to have him back, he has a role on this team.

Waiters played 27 minutes and had an overall solid game with nice hustle plays, some rebounds, several nice assists, 14 clutch points and a Thunder high +16.

The big surprise of the night was Randy Foye’s minutes as in Billy Donovan played him 22 minutes. Foye went 2-7 hitting two threes and was +15. These minutes surprised me, but Dallas does play an offense predicated on swinging the ball and shooting a ton of threes–so maybe it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise.

Cam Payne played only five first half minutes and couldn’t seem to defend his man at all. Payne didn’t play in the second half, didn’t score in the game, and was -5.

It was a typical OKC-Dallas game of runs as both teams usually answer the other until the Thunder summon enough will at the end to subdue the overmatched Mavs. Dirk led the Mavs with 33 points, but these Mavs aren’t anything close to Dirk’s Mavs of 2011, yet it wouldn’t be totally inconceivable if OKC and Dallas end up as first round foes.

After the Cleveland loss on Sunday, any Thunder win on the road is a good win, so this qualifies as a good road win over a so-so Dallas team which is going nowhere except possibly a first round exit.

Thunder improve to 41-16 and play the Pelicans in New Orleans tomorrow night.

Mike Jackson