Jonah Bolden Highlight Mix

Both Joel Embiid and Boban M will not be available tonight for the Sixers in Oklahoma City. Jonah Bolden is the starter tonight for Philly at center. He was drafted in the 2017 draft in the second round as the 36th player taken. He played at UCLA from 2014-16 then played overseas before joining the Sixers.

Given how poorly OKC’s defense has been of late it will be interesting to see how this goes tonight in Oklahoma City for both teams. He’s obviously very athletic with some real upside potential. This should be a very intriguing game for different reasons moving forward. Don’t look, but the Portland Trailblazers have almost caught the Thunder for the No. 3 slot despite going on the road recently for a tough run of games.

Jimmy Fallon Breaks Down Cohen Testimony

I watched maybe half of the Michael Cohen- Godfather/Reservoir Dogs Congressional hearing yesterday. It was about what I thought it would be. I mean, what did we really find out that we didn’t already know?

I already knew Donald Trump was a racist, a con man, and a cheat—so it wasn’t like there was that jaw dropping moment for me. I thought the Mark Meadows moments were a new low in contemporary American history.

Like I’ve written on here, I’m not an ideologue either way. My lane is pretty close to the middle. I would think the written-signed checks by Donald Trump will be a significant problem for Trump in that they were signed eight months after he took office…i.e., obstruction of justice.

Here’s the thing though, the one thing Trump has always been right about. His base isn’t leaving him even if shoots someone in broad daylight on the streets in Manhattan. He could kill people. He can insult anyone or say anything. He can behave like the most spoiled forth grader on the block. He could even make new campaign ball caps which say…A Racist, A Con Man, and A Cheat 2020…and his base would embrace it. It doesn’t matter to them…even the evangelicals.From a political standpoint, the Solid South has never strayed from the GOP ever since LBJ passed sweeping civil rights legislation. Even Richard Nixon didn’t change the electoral map in the South. It isn’t changing.

But for a day, the world saw what it’s like inside the Trump inner circle.

I was actually surprised it was as mild as it was.

Sam Hinkie’s Legacy in Philadelphia

To me, the most underachieving teams in the NBA this season are ironically my favorite two NBA teams… the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76’ers. What makes it even more fascinating is both teams were shaped by the two basketball Sams… Presti and Hinkie.

My son once had a group lunch meeting with Hinkie at an OU School of Business gathering with all these little MBAs grouped together. Hinkie was an OU business major undergrad then went on to get his MBA at Stanford.

My son was floored by the guy. Claims he was one of the smartest people he’s ever talked to in a business setting.

Philly is coming to Oklahoma City tomorrow night with a streak of losing 19 straight times to the Thunder.

The Sixer starting five of Embiid, Simmons, Butler, Reddick and Tobias Harris is probably the best starting five in the NBA minus the Warriors.

Yet, we’ve still to see The Process completely validated with a deep playoff run in the post Hinkie era.

Did it work?

I would say it did although the fans in Philly went thru three brutal seasons of losing from 2013-2015.

Such an interesting matchup tomorrow night as you’ll see the trail of players affected in both Philadelphia and Oklahoma City by Sam Hinkie’s process with the Sixers in this video.

You have to watch closely to understand how both teams got to where they are in the back side of the process.

Nuggets Outclass Thunder in Denver, 121-112

This was not an upset in Denver on Tuesday night. Vegas knew going in who was the better team. The smarter team. The more polished team. The team most likely not to beat itself in the last three minutes of the game. Vegas had the Nuggets as a 4.5 home favorite to beat the overly hyped underachieving Oklahoma City Thunder for a third straight time this season and in essence lock up the No. 2 seed in the West unless there is a complete and utter meltdown in the Mile High city in March and April.

This is precisely why I posted the Mike Malone video. Little things. Winnings things in clutch time which separate winning teams and losing teams. Mental things. Taking care of the ball. Grabbing defensive rebounds. Not committing boneheaded fouls. Those kind of things.

You can only witness this so many times and not sit there waiting for the Thunder to find a way to beat themselves.

Such was the case on Tuesday night in Denver as the Nuggets made all the plays in the final three minutes to break open a one possession game while defeating the Thunder by a count of 121-112.

The math is simple. Denver stands 42-18 while the Thunder drop to 38-22. Denver now leads the season series 3-0 and has the tiebreaker in its pocket if its needed after 82 games.

This was huge for the Denver Nuggets and was probably the biggest win for the Nuggets since the better days of the George Karl Era back when the Nuggets were relevant. It was a great sports day all around in Denver as the Rockies signed the best third baseman in baseball, Nolan Arenado, to an eight year– $255 million dollar deal making him the highest paid position player in MLB history.

But the biggest star in Denver on this night was Nikola Jokic who came within one rebound from notching a triple double with 36 pt, 9 rebound, 10 assist night. Jokic was simply magnificent and the best player on the floor. Steven Adams could not handle Jokic defensively and it was obvious. It wasn’t Perk obvious, but it was obvious.

Billy Donovan finally changed things up defensively in the second half using Jerami Grant and Nerlens Noel on Jokic, but after the Thunder came all the way back from eighteen points down to take the lead….Noel committed his sixth foul in 17 minutes of play. All told, Adams, Noel and Grant committed 15 fouls trying to handle perhaps the most versatile big man in the game today. But Noel fouling out was the biggest play in this game from my view.

This wasn’t just a statement for the Nuggets, this was a statement for Nikola Jokic…as in why aren’t we mentioning him in the same breath as Giannis, Harden and Paul George for the MVP award. On this night…it’s not crazy talk to think he climbed into the race.

In closing, this is what I take with me, in back to back games, Sam Presti’s Thunder have lost big games to the Kings and the Nuggets and are a combined 1-6 against these two teams who did not make the playoffs last season.

And you know what, if you’ve been reading my blog you know I pretty much felt the Thunder were going to lose both of these games on the morning of the games. It’s not in any way that I’m psychic or anything. It’s just the feeling that when it really matters the Thunder will find a way to beat themselves.

The Thunder host the equally underachieving Philly 76’ers on Thursday night inside the Peake.

So moving forward in Oklahoma City the goal is to hold off Portland, Utah or Houston for the No. 3 seed in the West.

This video is great. My son is the young man in the white Westbrook jersey with white long sleeves on the second row literally sitting behind Mike Malone. Ha. I was watching him almost more than the game itself when OKC came back from 18 points and took the lead.

Is This A Big Game Tonight in Denver?

I think it’s a big game for Denver for sure because they can pretty much put a strangle hold on the No. 2 seed in the West with a homecourt win over the still underachieving Oklahoma City Thunder. Just look at the Western Conference standings and there you go. This doesn’t require a DaVinci Code savant skill set. The Nuggets are three games up on the Thunder and if they hold home court tonight at the Pepsi Center the Nugs are four full games up on the Thunder with just over twenty games left on the slate.

This is clearly a put up or shut night for the Thunder in the Rockies against a team which has been the polar opposite of the Thunder so far this season. These Nuggets are one of the feel good stories so far this season under Mike Malone. Unlike the Thunder, they have no superstars unless you consider Paul Milsap a superstar. I don’t. What these Nuggets are is a group of nice role players playing within a system of doing little Nick Collison things which don’t win them any individual awards, but as a team gives them a chance every night.

The closest thing to a superstar on this Denver team is Nicola Jokic with numbers of 20.4 pts, 10.8 rebounds, 7.7 asts and a PER of 26.8. I almost and sometimes even do confuse Jokic with Portland big man Josef Nurkic so that in itself says something about the no-name nature of these Nuggets.

Listen to this recent Mike Malone post game interview and notice the emphasis to detail on little things. Things like winning the little one on one battles. Winning loose balls. Winning the boards. Winning the points off turnovers battle. Little things night in and night out. Mike Malone coaches more like a DI college hockey coach than an NBA coach with contractual prima donnas. He got fired in Sacramento and last year his team in Denver faded down the stretch. But if his team wins tonight in Denver you would think they’d be in fairly decent shape for the No 2 seed in the West.

Tell me who saw this coming in September when everyone was drawing up their Daily Thunder Western Conference Seeding Contest bracket. I sure didn’t. I had the Nuggets at the No. 8 slot and barely holding on to a playoff spot

Coming into tonight my Coach of the Year voting goes… 1 Mike Budenholzer, 2 Mike Malone, 3 Dave Joerger and 4 Doc Rivers.

So an interesting matchup tonight in Denver where my son will be sitting low at midcourt with his Russell Westbrook jersey on. I’ll be looking to see if I can spot him. I’ll also be looking to see if the Oklahoma City Thunder can reach deep down and win a big road game which would justify some of the hype being thrown their way with only twenty-three games left in the regular season.

Look at this video. Mike Malone doesn’t even look or sound like an NBA coach. He looks more like your local State Farm agent. But so far this season the State Farm agent has a 2-0 season series lead over the college coach from Florida. Big game tonight in Denver for the Nuggets.

Kudos to Doc Rivers and the LA Clipper fans last night for a classy Dirk sendoff. I hope the Thunder do something like this for Dirk on March 31st.

Green Book Wins Best Picture

Actually, for the first time in three years, I enjoyed the Oscar show. I like it better without a host. I like that they went straight into the show with We Are the Champions. I’m glad Kevin Hart didn’t do the show. We see enough of him at the NBA All-Star Game. He’s wearing thin on me. I want the focus on the movies and for the most part this show wasn’t too political except for Spike Lee. But I’m even okay with Spike because BlankKklansman was my third favorite movie of the year and I had him for Best Director.. I had Green Book and A Star is Born in a virtual tie so I can easily live with Green Book being best pic. It was such a good movie with a wonderful message. Even my Trump friends were all over this movie.

My favorite movies of the year were in this order:

1a. Green Book

1b. A Star is Born

2. BlackKklansman (True story set in Colorado Springs in the 70’s.)

3. Bohemian Rhapsody

4. Free Solo ( This film won best documentary—stunning movie.)

5. The Mule

6. Vice ( Christian Bale’s performance as Dick Cheney was scarily good and I had him second on my best actor list.)

These were my favorite movies this year and other than The Mule each won at least one Oscar.

I’m glad at the end they picked the right movie and didn’t go all politically correct just to piss with Trump. We get enough of that every day. Feature the movies is what I say…and that’s pretty much what they did.

Rami Malik was superb as Freddie Mercury and I had him with Christian Bale for my best actor pics..

Marsharali Ali was my pick for Best Supporting Actor.

I find Olivia Coleman extremely annoying and went with Lady Gaga for Best Actress.

I also missed on Best Supporting Actress as I’m a huge Amy Adams fan. She was great as Lynne Cheney.

But in the end, Green Book won best Pic. Free Solo won Best Doc and Shallow won Best Song. I have nothing to bitch about. Be sure and see some of these movies if you get the chance since it’s supposed to be very cold next week-end. I didn’t see Roma so I can’t comment on the movie. I don’t like the fact it was in the Best Pic category instead of Best Doc…but that’s just me.

Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox Too Much for Thunder, 119-116

I think the Kings are one of the more positive stories this season in the NBA. I’ve liked Dave Joerger ever since his days with Memphis. I like his story. He worked his tail off to become an NBA head coach. This wasn’t given to him. He was a D League coach, an assistant, then he finally got a chance in Memphis and did something with the chance. He speaks his mind and doesn’t mind if it hurts the feelings of a star player or even makes his GM mad. He’s a bit of a throwback in a league where it appears only Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich are allowed this latitude as an NBA head coach. Dave Joerger has an attitude without the latitude. Jimmy Buffet should write that song.

I like Dave Joerger. Just the game before he and Buddy Hield got into a bit of a shouting match at the end of a tough loss to the Warriors. Some people made a bid deal of it. I didn’t. So you know what Buddy Hield did the next game out? He came back to Oklahoma where he won a National Player of the Year award while leading the Sooners to a Final Four and basically lit up the OKC Thunder’s vaunted defense.

Buddy Hield was the best player on the floor for most of the game and then De’Aaron Fox closed the deal.

This was not an endorsement for Paul George getting my hypothetical MVP vote or for Billy Donovan getting my hypothetical vote to get the extension year which Sam Presti has already given the former Florida coach. This was a game where if your team wants to be regarded as being something almost special you suck it up on the second night of a ‘HOME’ back to back and find a way to win a game against a franchise which hasn’t been to the playoffs in twelve years. The twelve year drought by the way is the longest current span any NBA franchise has gone without making the NBA post season tournament.

This is big boy ball. The Thunder are healthy. They’re coming off a week long rest from the All-Star break. This is why I have trouble thinking the Thunder are a gut cinch to get past the first round. There’s something about these Donovan coached teams which bothers me beyond just the obvious overall underachievement since Game 4 versus the Warriors. It’s like they have a sense of entitlement for being good when they really haven’t been all that good since Game 4 versus the Warriors. Tell me beyond that win in Game 4 win versus the Warriors exactly what this franchise has done from a team achievement standpoint other than underachieve.

I think that’s a fair question. You won’t get that question from the cuddly soft college market media in Oklahoma, but I think it’s fair question. Little Nick Gallo would feint if I asked that question in his presence. What has this franchise done since Game 4 versus the Warriors other than meet the requirements of Sam Presti’s Doctrine of Sustainability in a Small Market. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?

I don’t do many stats on here even though stats are obviously a huge part of this. I don’t want my blog to read like the usual blog per the times we live in. I’m a human factor guy. I believe we’re all still humans to a certain degree even though Trump is POTUS.

But here’s a casual stat for you in these last two games, since becoming a father, Dennis Schroder is a combined 8-28 shooting the basketball in two home games. Is there a metric which shows something like this? Long story short, the Thunder need the good version of Dennis Schroder if they hope to be special in April.

Just prior to tip I have no idea what the Vegas spread was on this game. For me, I had it at pick ’em because I think Dave Joerger is the perfect coach for this team as they go thru the process of becoming legit, which by the way the are. In case this escaped your attention, the Kings didn’t just win this game–they won the season series over the entitled Thunder by a 3-1 count.

This may be hyperbole, but other than Steph and Klay, right now I see the young backcourt tandem of Hield and Fox as one of the best in the league. Would I trade Hield and Fox for Westbrook and Ferguson if I were the Kings GM?

Of course not. Why would I do that? They just beat that team and won the season series…and btw have won exactly as many post season series as Westbrook and Ferguson–as in zero.

And for me—that’s the way I’m closing my recap.

The Thunder in Denver on Tuesday night against another overachieving team with another Coach of the Year candidate in Mike Malone. So be looking for a Mike Malone video on Tuesday.

Next Morning Observations

I love the way both teams competed last night. The game to me had the feel of what Game 7 could have been like last season if the Thunder could have extended the series beyond Game 6 in Salt Lake City. Incredible crowd and emotion in the building like a prize fight.

Paul George led OKC with 45 points and Russell Westbrook added 43 points. Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 38 points on 35 shots. Up until Russell lost his poise in the game’s final two minutes it was going to be his signature game of this season. Instead, Russell turned over the ball with an over pass to Steven Adams and then fouled out of the game with a charge. This is what I mean about Russell and the endings of games when he loses his poise and plays too fast. This game very much reminded of the ending in Philly where actually it appeared the Thunder were better off at the end with Russell on the bench. I can’t believe I just wrote that on the night a guy scored 43 points and almost tripled doubled…but that’s just the way I feel about this. If I were Donovan I’d go ahead and start making Paul George the point forward in the final two minutes because he’s in such a confidence zone mode and take the ball out of Russell’s hands to some degree. Much like Scott Brooks did with Harden in 2012.

Markieff Morris was the first guy off the bench and did absolutely nothing in 17 minutes of play except rotate very slowly to the ball on defensive rotations. No points, no rebounds, nothing. I was stunned he got 17 minutes his first game in Oklahoma City. Obviously, he was told by the Thunder he would assume this role. He did nothing except look rusty and slow.

Nerlens Noel only played ten minutes. Patrick Patterson didn’t see the floor. Diallo didn’t see the floor. So much for making a guy ease into things and somewhat earn his minutes. Morris actually entered the game before Sixth Man of the Year candidate Dennis Schroder which is absurd even though Schroder had a tough night. When I see something like this it gives me the feel this was ordained from Sam Presti. I’ve never viewed Markieff as a game changer in his NBA career. He has had some moments, but I’m surprised he was the first guy off the bench in his first game.

Other than with Fisher, this hasn’t worked in the past. Caron Butler fizzled. Corey Brewer fizzled and we’ll just have to see how this plays out. But let me say this…on a night when OKC was hammered on the boards by a 60-43 margin…Morris had zero rebounds in 17 minutes of play. I thought his movement to the man and the ball were equally slow. He looked like the slowest Thunder player on the floor kind of like Carmelo in that regard. I say this because pace is a big deal with this Thunder team because they’re the fastest team in the league.

Utah turnovers were a big deal in this game and saved the Thunder’s ass because of how badly they were mauled on the boards. OKC turned the Jazz over 25 times by my sheet and made up for some of the rebounds they didn’t get.

Steven Adams usually struggles against Gobert and Utah and he did once again on Friday night. But both Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant showed flashes of brilliance.

One thing Billy Donovan did which I liked was use Abdel Nader in the second half. Nader showed some grit and hit a huge three in one of the game’s biggest moments. He didn’t shy away from the moment. He embraced it.

I thought it was a great NBA regular season game. I ran into a couple of Thunder fans after the game in a 7-11 and they were just like me…they thought it was epic and agreed with me on using Paul George as a point forward in the end to help Russell out with his decision making at the end of games.

One last thing. I watched the game on Fox and full marks for how nice both Antonio Daniels and Michael Cage dressed for the game. Antonio looked superb with the burgundy jacket and burgundy tie. Michael Cage looked equally dapper with his attire as well. Chris Fisher needs some help. Just saying. He looks like Dana Carvey on a bad hair day and this isn’t Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood…this is the NBA. I’d get rid of the sweater. Otherwise…he’s doing fine.

Great game. Sacramento tonight at the Peake which should be an excellent game. The Kings are one of the most improved teams in the league this season.

Tell me Chris Fisher doesn’t look like Dana Carvey.