Scott Brooks Back in Oklahoma City

Scott Brooks returns tomorrow night with his sub .500 Washington Wizards. Not sure how this will go for Scott Brooks long term. But his place in history as the first real head coach of the Thunder will always be cemented as a very positive legacy. OKC grew up as an NBA city with Brooks at the helm. He was the perfect coach for this market. Good coach. Good person. Excellent role model. Brooks was a comfortable fit for a college market making the transition to an NBA market. Plus, his temperament with young stars like Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka seemed like a snug fit given the quaintness of the Oklahoma City market. Class person. Hope he does well coaching the Wizards.

Thunder Get it Done in New York, 112-103

The national storyline will be Russell Westbrook garnered his eighth triple double of the season and forty-fifth of his NBA career. Adding to that storyline is Westbrook is now averaging a triple double for the season…31-11-10.

But that’s not what sticks about this game tonight for me. More to the point it was the Thunder’s overall willingness to play with a chip on their shoulder and do the little things as a team. Get dirty as a team. Play with toughness, some snarl, and a little nasty. I liked what I saw tonight.

For the third game in a row, Anthony Morrow was a very positive factor for the Thunder. Amo scored 14 points, went 5-7 from the field, and was 3-5 from beyond the arc. OKC needed his steadying influence early and he provided baskets when his team needed scoring. For the night, OKC’s bench chipped in 48 points. Circle that in red.

Enes Kanter had what I thought was his best game of the season. In 28 minutes, Kanter scored 27 points and gobbled 10 rebounds. For the second straight game his pick and roll game was there all night with Westbrook. He played physical as well, which rubbed off on other OKC players. When he does that I’m not sure I want to trade him. Please circle in red.

Another good game from Steven Adams as well with 14 points and 10 rebounds. It’s pretty simple, when someone like Morrow is hitting threes and spacing the floor—Kanter and Adams become very dangerous weapons for the Thunder offense.

But I think I’ll go with Andre Roberson as my No. 1 Star of the Game for multiple reasons. I absolutely loved his third period when he pick and rolled with Lauvergne, hit a three, and pretty much blanketed Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo was 4-18 from the field as Roberson altered his shots all night long. Plus, Roberson hit a clutch three in the final five minutes which kind of gave me the feeling this was the Thunder’s night. Great overall game by Andre Roberson. Circle in red, thank you.

Oladipo had an off night. Lauvergne was decent, while Jermai Grant needs to play better. OKC needs more from Sabonis as well.

The national media will be amuck with Westbrook storylines, but if you watch the Thunder every game this was a road win accentuated by some excellent performances by role players with Roberson, Kanter, and Morrow leading the way. And in that exact order those three are my Three Stars of the Game.

Scotty Brooks and the Washington Wizards in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

Morrow Sparks Thunder Rout of Pistons

A good night in Thunder Nation as for the second night in a row one Anthony Morrow dispelled errant rumors of his retirement from the NBA. Against the Nuggets on Friday, Morrow was solid with a ten point night which helped the Thunder win an ugly basketball game. Last night at the Peake, Anthony Morrow was more than solid. On my sheet he was the No. 1 Star of the Game as he led all scorers on the court with a 21 point game and was a major reason the Thunder coasted to a wire to wire 116-108 rout of the Pistons.

Morrow was so good it makes you wonder wtf Billy Donovan has been doing. Amo was 8-12 from the field hitting three of his customary splashing threes, but he scored other ways as well. Off the dribble, posting up, getting to the rim–it was beautiful. Here’s a wild thought for Presti and Billy Donovan—why not start feeding Anthony Morrow some minutes every game and see what wtf happens since Roberson and Singler have trouble making shots other than layups.

And did you see what happened when the Thunder started spreading the floor with Morrow? The seas parted in the Pistons’ paint area. It’s called space and time. Steven Adams had 16 points and 9 rebounds. When Kanter could catch the ball cleanly his pick and roll with Westbrook was a smorgasboard of space and time with those two even though I’d still like Presti to trade Kanter and his $17.5 million salary for another two way swing player.

All in all it was a much needed game of the Thunder playing well on both ends of the court.

I love Oladipo so excuse me when I appear to be his agent on here, but he was good again with his mini-Westbrook triple double of 18-6-2. In time there will be only one backcourt better than OKC’s in this league and yeah, it’s the two pricks in Oakland who traveled to the Hamptons to steal Durant from the Thunder. But me thinking of what Westbrook and Dipo can become in tandem is what keeps me going through the nights when it gets ugly.

Jerami Grant had what I thought was an excellent game. In time as he gets more in feel with what OKC is doing he’ll become a player the entire city falls in love with as well. I loved his daddy Harvey when he led the Sooners to the ’88 national championship game so it was an easy conversion for me. But Grant can do things which will help this team evolve.

Almost forgot, Russell Westbrook had his seventh triple double of the season…yawn. But let me be clear here it was the more in line with the type of triple double which makes the Thunder a better team. Westbrook’s line was 17-13-15 on but 22 shots. I’m not one of those shot counter types, but when Westbrook’s shot total stays near 20 the Thunder play more balanced team oriented basketball.

One stat which can’t be unmentioned on here is the Pistons were limited to a 1-19 night from shooting threes in this ball game. That is 5.2% from behind the arc. Obviously, the Pistons were tired and without minimalist Reggie Jackson who by my count hasn’t played yet this season. But the Thunder were tired and without Reggie Jackson as well. So there’s that. I wonder if Reggie finally bought a car when he inked his $80 million deal with the Pistons or just walks to the arena in his socks? Maybe Darnell can fill us in on the whole Reggie Jackson situation in Detroit. Will he ever play again? Does he own a car? Does he rollerblade in in downtown Detroit? Did he vote for Donald Trump just to piss off Russell Westbrook? Get with it Darnell. Inquiring minds need to know.

So—the Thunder improve to 10-8 and all the sudden have a nice little two game winning streak going as they now head east to play the Knicks tomorrow night in Madison Square Garden.

But my storyline from Saturday night was Anthony Morrow and how much he could potentially help this young basketball team by scoring the ball and creating space for Russell Westbrook.

Knicks in New York tomorrow night. Wouldn’t mind a bit if Westbrook pissed on the curb right in front of Trump Tower to make a national statement of sorts for the NBA.

Let’s go Thunder.

Thunder Grind Out Comeback Win in Denver

Let’s be candid moving forward with this Thunder basketball season. This team in no way is a legitimate contender of any sort in the post Kevin Durant era in Oklahoma City unless Sam Presti has a deal up his sleeve to bring either Anthony Davis or Blake Griffin to the Thunder. And even then—there’s that Oakland AAU All-Star team Durant now plays on.

If OKC could possibly win the Northwest Division and maybe finish as a fourth or fifth seed in the West my cup overfloweth. I still think both of those ‘could’ be attainable if Cam Payne comes back fairly soon and gives the Thunder some legit backup point guard play. I also think down the road Presti needs to deal Enes Kanter and replace him with a two way small forward who can actually play on both ends of the floor. If Presti can attach Kyle Singler’s departure in that trade as well—so be it.

Putting all this aside OKC won a tough, grinding come from behind 132-129 OT win on the road against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night inside the Pepsi Center. OKC is not a pretty basketball team. They’re currently flawed in their construction so it’s not like these games are going to be pretty or artistic. But there will be spurts of pure brilliance by Russell Westbrook which makes you hope some of this team will make sense at some point. Add to that, Westbrook alone on most nights is worth the price of a ticket or taking the time to watch the games on television.

This night was no exception. With five minutes left in regulation, the Thunder were down by 13 points and apparently headed for their fourth straight loss. Truth be known if not for a bad foul by Steven Adams on rookie Jamal Murray with 8.3 seconds left in regulation the Thunder would have won this one in regulation. Three Murray makes from the free throw line sent this one to overtime where Westbrook and his super young Thunder hung on for a 132-129 win which was a huge win for this team given where they appeared headed after a sequence of tough luck late game narrow losses followed by the blowout loss in Sacramento. OKC could very well still be headed for that lonely dark spot as this season unfolds, but I’m holding some hope in Cam Payne’s return along with a Presti deal which brings the team a legit small forward.

For the Westbrook File on this night it was his sixth triple double of the season and forty-third of his career. The numbers are just giddy audacious as I type 36-12-18. For the record, those 18 assists are the most in a sxingle game by any player in the NBA this season.

But it wasn’t just Westbrook. Victor Oladipo once again mini-Westbrooked with 26-4-7. I could care less whay some of the white millennial bloggers write, at some point Victor Oldipo is going to become a helluva basketball player—I’m just not sure when. But he will.These periodic flashes of mini Westbrook-like play from Oladipo give some silver lining hope to my notion this Thunder team will hold off Utah and Portland to win yet another Northwest Division banner.

Other silver linings. Rookie Domas Sabonis and newcomer Joffery Lauvergne both had solid games on the road—which is very encouraging coming from young role players. They were a combined 6-7 from three and that’s the primary reason Presti was able to trade Ersan Ilyasova for Jerami Grant. Another silver lining—Anthony Morrow scored 10 points, made both of his three point attempts and is showing some signs of possibly waking from his coma and coming back to life. Jerami Grant’s play as a small four forward in the waning minutes as Billy Donovan finally went small as it made a defensive difference for the Thunder is what I’d describe as a baby silver lining in this ball game.

Granted—this win came against an injury decimated Nugget team which isn’t much even when healthy, but any way this Thunder team can win against any city with an NBA franchise needs to be the mantra in those sideline huddles currently. Since none of us will ever know what the Trump Doctrine is, let’s just focus on the Billy Donovan Doctrine right now…namely win ugly, but just find a way to win more games than the Rockets, Grizzlies, Trailblazers, and Jazz. But especially the Jazz and Trailblazers.

OKC improves to 9-8 with the Detroit Pistons coming to town tomorrow evening. I have no idea if Reggie Jackson is playing or not. The Pistons aren’t a team I watch all that much. But know this—I didn’t boo Reggie Jackson last time he returned to Oklahoma City and I’m hopeful the OKC home crowd has come to a more benevolent understanding of Reggie Jackson and the NBA as a whole.

10-8 and first place in the Northwest Division is all I’m thinking going into tomorrow night. Find a way, Thunder–find a way.