Thunder Beat Raptors in Toronto, 98-97

It’s an odd thing, this Thunder season to date. It wasn’t that long ago I was trying to figure out which NBA team I would adopt this season as the Thunder tanked to find pieces to put around Shai Gilgeous Alexander for next season and beyond.

I’m to assume Billy Donovan and Sam Presti have both figured out they might already have that player on their roster as they’ve now seen thirty-two games of this season’s team.

Chris Paul is that player.

It was right there in front of them and maybe Sam Presti already knew this back in the summer when he was trading Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Jerami Grant for a new beginning in Oklahoma City.

For those who haven’t noticed of late the ‘new beginning’ is fairly entertaining. Gone are the bad press conferences which followed a lot of head scratching bad losses which made one wonder what exactly was going through Russell Westbrook’s head at times.

I will never call Russell Westbrook a cancer in Oklahoma City. That would never ever be fair. But what I would write at this point is that I’m glad he’s in Houston. Likewise, I’m glad Kevin Durant is in Brooklyn with his two rings… but most of all, I’m glad Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this season because quite simply these two are making me want to get to the next game like a decade ago when I fell in love with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There…I wrote it. I’ve fallen in love with the Oklahoma City Thunder again.

On Sunday evening in Toronto, Oklahoma City was without both Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder. To be fair though, Toronto was without Paschal Siakam and Norman Powell as well. So it was a wash in a sense and the closeness of the game reflected this to the very end. Shai-Gilgeous ran off the final seconds eluding Toronto players who were trying to foul and send him to the line. It felt like a line was crossed with Presti’s reset as the buzzer sounded.

The fact Shai is Canadian and scored 32 points in Toronto is nice but not a big deal to me. This is what he’s been doing of late with consistency against teams in America as well. I mean, it wasn’t like Gretzky going back to Edmonton and scoring a hat trick in the last year of his career. These thirty-something point nights with Shai are becoming a thing we in the States are coming to terms with as this season moves along.

With Dennis Schroder out–it was simple in this game. The three-headed monster had to become a two-headed monster in Toronto. Voila. Chris Paul promptly had his best game to date this basketball season with a near triple double and no malice attached towards any in the post-game presser.

Chris Paul was magnificent. It was a Westrookian line with basketball smarts attached. It was hard not to think of those days we in Oklahoma thought Durant and Westbrook could play together like this and figure things out.

CP3’s line was 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists with a +12 for good measure. As good as I thought Shai was on this night–it’s possible Chris Paul was better.

Some other Thunder players had nice nights to fill the void of Dennis Schroder being a scratch.

Nerlens Noel had a 12 point night with some great energy on both ends of the floor.

Rookie Darius Bazely was given 29 minutes of playing time and responded with what I thought was his best game of the season in knocking down four three point shots and actually looking like he belonged out there.

Spark plug Lu Dort was given rotation minutes and responded with some nice energy minutes which is his contagious defense first role.

It was a good night in Toronto for a team from Oklahoma. The Thunder now stand at 17-15 three and a half games in front of teams fighting for the 8th seed in the West.

Gallinari hasn’t played in a while. It’s beginning to feel like he’s already gone and the Thunder have somewhat adjusted.

Next up: Luka and the Dallas Mavs at the Peake on New Years Eve.

Random Thoughts From a Wannabe Sports Messiah

I can’t help myself. This is part of who I am. There’s some dreamer in me even though I can’t vote for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. I voted for Barack Obama twice and then wrote in John McCain in 2016. Who else in Oklahoma did that?

My mother had me reading Richard Bach when I was a youngster. I bet no one else in Oklahoma can even name three books written by Richard Bach. That part of me can’t be removed…. and quite frankly I don’t want to remove it.

Why can’t in the mercenary world of professional sports we dream from time to time?

To me, it’s why we teach, coach, and play sports. It is the interwoven fabric of our humanity which makes us want to play the games in the first place. But not only play the games, but play the games the Right Way. With our hearts.

In the end, does it make any difference whatsoever LeBron James won those two rings in Miami? No, it doesn’t. But it means everything to me as a fan he went back to Cleveland and won a ring for his home city.

Does it make difference to me Kevin Durant took the easiest path to two rings in Golden State? Not really. But I would admit I’ll never view Kevin the same either.

I could never view Kevin Durant the same way.

So why do play sports?

We play sports to dream of finding the best in ourselves. We play to compete within ourselves and against others. We play to elevate the human bonds between all of us. We play to make ourselves better and stronger as humans.

So I’m sitting here today in Oklahoma wondering why the Oklahoma City Thunder can’t just go ahead and dream big this season?

Why not dream big?

If they fall short–so what.

Why shackle ourselves with preconditioned thoughts of failure and falling short of the limits we all place on ourselves from time to time?

I wish Sam Presti would call me from time to time and allow me to share my thoughts with him and his ball club.

I really do. That would be cool.

Thunder Prevail in Charlotte With Gritty OT Win, 104-102

It’s looks like I have a basketball team to blog about this NBA season in Oklahoma City. The team tank practitioners need to follow Golden State or the NY Knicks or the Atlanta Hawks if that’s what they want to follow this season.

You can’t tank in Oklahoma City this far into a season standing with a 16-15 record thirty-one games into a season. This isn’t New York or Los Angeles. This is a different deal. You don’t tank in Mystery, Alaska. Period.

You can trade Danilo Gallinari for a player still on an existing rookie scale contract. You can start making sure fireball spark plug Lou Dort starts getting 15 minutes a game. You could even send millennial Daily Thunder fave rookie Darius Bazely to the G league to become an NBA ready player. But Sam Presti can’t tank at this point. He just can’t.

After getting outworked at home the night before the Thunder went to work in Charlotte on the second night of a back to back and quite frankly won a game which bordered on ugly at times. But in the end — the Thunder did all the little things absent on Thursday night in the bad loss to Memphis.

In case you haven’t noticed this Thunder team has a nice little three-headed monster line which combines Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder. In hockey parlance this is Billy Donovan’s power play. When Donovan puts these three together for meaningful minutes good things are happening for the Thunder with some consistency of late.

In hockey parlance again—with these three together the ice is being tilted in favor of the Thunder when Donovan keeps the three guards on the floor and keeps Darius Bazely sitting close to him and Maurice Cheeks on the bench.

It’s pretty to watch. The ball moves. Stupid low percentage shots are not aplenty as they were in the two previous seasons of Thunder play. Dumbass possessions aren’t happening. It appears as if the team’s point guard (Chris Paul) is listening to the coach. I won’t go any further.

Chris Paul was my MVP’er in this game. But in reality it could have been Shai just as well.

It doesn’t matter because when you’re winning as a team basketball becomes a magical almost spiritual thing to observe. It really does. That wasn’t some bullshit hyperbole on my part.

Because in the end winning is fun, but it’s even more fun when the team you’re rooting for is doing it the right way.

On to Toronto for a late Sunday afternoon game against the defending world champion Raptors. This should be a very entertaining game.


Thunder Win Streak Ends at Four With Home Loss to Memphis, 110-97

For the second straight home game… Danilo Gallinari was a DNP-ankle and this time it cost the Thunder dearly on both ends of the floor as the Memphis Grizzlies handled the Thunder with surprising ease on Friday night with a 110-97 road win.

A very disappointing loss for the feel good Thunder. Even without Gallinari’s silk smooth shot manning the stretch four position this a game you need to win if you’re the Thunder. Memphis was on the second night of a road back to back—and quite frankly if the Thunder want to be a playoff contender they have to be better than this as a rested home team.

The Thunder got pounded on the boards and lost most of the live ball one on one battles when it mattered. I mean…that’s a stat which tells you who came to the arena wanting it more. You don’t need a metric to read this. Memphis wanted the game more.

Memphis has a nice young roster with some talented guys like Ja Morant, Jerin Jackson, Brandon Clarke, etc… but this is a game the Thunder have to win if they want to remain relevant after Gallinari is traded in the coming days.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but I thought four guys were really, really bad for the Thunder on a night when the Thunder core wasn’t horrible. At home…you’re supposed to be able to get something from your role players. I’ll be blunt, Billy Donovan got little if nothing from Terrance Ferguson, Darius Bazley, Nerlens Noel, and Mike Muscala on a night when quite frankly the team needed somewhat tangible from them on the floor.

I thought Chris Paul was fine and Shai was okay. Steven got handled a little bit late and Dennis struggled early, but still……Donovan needs more than just four guys playing against an entire opposing roster.

If Donovan can’t get more than this from Ferguson and Bazley then maybe stick Dort out here a few minutes to at the least show these guys what it means TO BATTLE FOR A LOOSE BALLL OR DO THE LITTLE THINGS. What it means to be given viable minutes in an NBA game a sa young player. This was a game where I was surprised Donovan didn’t insert Dort to in essence give his lethargic team a kick in the ass spurt of sorts.

You can’t be the St. Louis Blues or the Washington Nationals with this type of half-assed effort and perhaps it will be a learning moment for several of these guys.

The Thunder play at Charlotte tonight against a sub .500 Bobcat team. I’m not expecting Gallinari to play so we’ll see if the Thunder take something from last night’s loss.

The fairytale Thunder stand at 15-15 with a game and half lead for the No. 7 seed. But here’s the thing—one would expect Portland and San Antonio at some point to somewhat get their acts together as we head into the winter months of the NBA season.

I shouldn’t have played the Jake Owens song. It was too much for these guys. I hope I didn’t ruin it for them.

We had great seats for the game last night. I could have literally touched the Thunder Girls with my spirit balloons if I were some sort of creepy perv. Add to it Kristen Chenoweth was sitting pretty close to us as well. So—even with the loss it was a decent night.

The basketball gods work that way at times. I try to cover all the bases on my Thunder blog since we no longer have a newspaper in Oklahoma City.

Lincoln Riley National Semi-Final vs. LSU Presser

Even with the suspensions to Ronnie Perkins and Rhamondre Stevenson … I’m still upbeat about OU in regards to the upcoming Peach Bowl in the national semis.

Perkins is clearly a loss as you could make the argument he is OU’s best pass rusher. But what you could also say is that Jalen Redmon, Neville Gallimore, Kenneth Murray, Caleb Kelly, and Nick Bonito will just have to pick up the slack in getting pressure on Heisman winner Joe Burrow. You’d also have to say Alex Grinch should be coming into this game with multiple blitz packages in that no team this year has slowed down Burrow with him standing with time and space with the ball in his hands. OU HAS NOTHING TO LOSE. BRING THE KITCHEN SINK!

To me…the key to this game is OU’s offensive line and if Jalen Hurts can extend possessions with his legs and not leave the ball laying on the Peach Bowl turf in the process.

Stevenson only had 64 carries the entire season. Sure–I wish he could play, but he’s a luxury and TJ Pledger will have to suck it up to give some depth to Kennedy Brooks. But here’s the thing—Jalen Hurts was a 1,000 yard rusher this season. He doesn’t run like a quarterback. He runs like a hybrid somewhere between Kennedy and Trey Sermon.

Jalen either running the ball or going through his progressions is the key to the game for me. Plus, I think OU needs to be at least +2 in the turnover category.

Cee Dee Lamb touches are a thing I have circled as well. Lincoln Riley needs to get Cee Dee Lamb at least 12-15 touches in space excluding punt returns.

No one has stopped Joe Burrow this season. I’m not expecting OU to as well. Just make some key stops here and there. Get off the field and get the ball back in Jalen Hurts’ hands to run the ball and the clock. As in shortening the game and limiting possessions to Burrow’s and Co.

Does OU have a chance? Vegas says no as they’ve installed LSU as a 14 point ‘home’ field favorite in Atlanta at an SEC venue.

I think OU has a puncher’s chance. Everything has to follow script so to speak. LSU clearly had the best regular season of any team in college football this year…but this is why you play the games.

To see if an underdog can land a sweeping uppercut and follow it with a knockout.

Thunder Beat Clippers to Solidfy No. 7 Seed, 118-112

Here’s the thing—even when OKC was down by eighteen points in this game—I never felt nervous about the fourth period. This team of late is playing with such poise you don’t lose yourself with worry. You expect Chris Paul and guard mates Dennis Schroder and Shai GA to make plays when it matters. It’s a beautiful thing to watch when a team’s roles start to evolve like this.

Such was the case again on Sunday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena as the streaking Oklahoma City Thunder came all the way back from 18 points down and took care of the LA Clippers by a 118-112 count.

The Paul George coming back to OKC deal was a not a thing for me. He left on great terms and will always be treated well by the fans. Same with Westbrook and Harden. Maybe with more time all these oil and gas Trump evangelicals will find it in their hearts to move on with Durant as well. Such as we now see Little Mini Putin quoting Corinthians in between dissing sixteen year old girls and trolling grieving wives at campaign rallies.

Here’s the thing though—the Thunder are pretty good if they can keep Chris Paul healthy and figure out the best way to maximize Big Gallo’s value with his expiring contract.

There is no need for the big death march tank in Oklahoma City if Presti can continue to swim the waters of reset with nuanced guile.

He can’t tank. Period. The fans have fallen in love with this team. This group of guys even have Jim Traber cheering for them. I mean, there’s no need to tank.

For the second game in a row Shai GA scored thirty two points and looks like the next big thing in Oklahoma City as far as Thunder hoops. Dennis Schroder did it again in the fourth period. Chris Paul is leading with the deftness of say Howie Kendrick of recent Washington Nationals fame. Steven Adams is at peace within himself with his game. There’s some significant good karma floating around here with this team all the sudden.

Billy Donovan is still smacking his gum in the fourth period like a nervous car hop, but otherwise he all the sudden looks like John Wooden with Russell Westbrook now with Harden in Houston.

It’s like watching a Hallmark Channel chick flick with everyone being happy at the end.

We have a big family night on tap Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena with Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies coming to town to take on the streaking Thunder.

For what was supposed to be a dreary winter of NBA hoops in OKC all the sudden I’m starting to use Howie Kendrick references on my blog.

Thunder Handle Phoenix Suns With Ease, 126-108

Sam Presti’s reset is going pretty well if you haven’t been paying attention of late. With his team’s 126-108 win over the seemingly always tanking Phoenix Suns on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena–the Thunder stand at 14-14 twenty-eight games into this NBA season.

The Thunder stand alone as the No. 7 seed a full game and a half ahead of Portland.

Like it or not—I don’t think the Thunder can tank even if they wanted to. I don’t know how you tell fans in a small market you’re going to tank when it appears you already have a playoff team in place. Plus, it’s a team which is creating a feel good story in central Oklahoma with their attitude.

People like this team. They like the fact the Thunder are no longer one of the dumbest teams in the league and are instead playing with smarts and heart galore.

Quite frankly—if the Clippers were the feel good story last season before they made their free agent haul in the summer…this Thunder team isn’t far behind that bunch. Fact of the matter is—this Thunder team has a little more firepower than the Clippers did last season.

Dennis Schroder is my Sixth Man of the Year so far. ‘THIS’ Dennis Schroder is the Sixth Man who Sam Presti has been looking for ever since the trade of James Harden.

Add to the fact—despite what I’ve written at times…Billy Donovan has these guys playing like a team. The ball moves. The offense isn’t stagnant with Westbrook dominating the flow. Quite simply—these guys have caught the fancy of the local market.

Despite the steady play of Big Gallo, SGA, Nerlens Noel, and Steven Adams…Dennis Schroder to date along with Chris Paul are my twin team MVP’ers heading into Sunday’s suddenly big game with the now superstar laden LA Clippers.

Of the six teams above OKC in the West currently–the Thunder have only one win over Utah against a top six team in the West to show for their grit.

I’m still not ready to say this Thunder team can be the Washington Nats or the St. Louis Blues, but they can definitely be last year’s LA Clippers or last season’s Portland Trailblazers. Their guard play isn’t that far off from what Portland as the No. 6 seed rode to the Western Conference Finals. Tell me Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, and SGA can’t be for this team what Damian Lillard, my buds CJ McCullum and his dad, and Seth Curry were to the Blazers last playoff season.

So haven written this on December 22nd…I just don’t see how Sam Presti can go from reset to tank mode given how city is beginning to feel about its NBA team heading into Christmas.

The feeling is pretty clear according to my ticket broker…the ticket prices are trending and that’s a good thing for Oklahoma City given how bleak the outlook was for this season after Presti traded Jerami Grant to the Nuggets.

Trump Impeached By Dems

Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton never acted like this even in their darkest moments.

A new low even for the leader of the white trash free world and the evangelical new spiritual movement.

I guess, in retrospect, the McCain family should consider themselves blessed Mini-Putin didn’t carry on this way with Cindy McCain after John McCain’s death.

You look at these clueless people standing behind Trump and they haven’t a clue that both John McCain and John Dingell were both a hundred times the man Donald Trump will never be even in his delusional dreams.

Freeze this photo and this scene. It is an absolute microcosm of America’s decline. I have no idea how banning Muslims or building a wall to keep out Hispanics in any way cures what this photo clearly illustrates.

The caption should read: ‘White trash begats white trash.’

I won’t go any further. It’s pointless. Building a wall isn’t the solution for sure.

The first question is what do you do with these people who have nothing better to do with their time.

Ground zero for Trump and he doesn’t even know it. What a punk. I shouldn’t have written that. I can only hope Melania does read it and get on me for bullying our lost soul POTUS.

Kendra Horn Votes to Impeach Trump

It had to be a very tough decision for Kendra Horn from Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District to make this vote to impeach Donald Trump, but from my view it was the correct vote.

For the congresswoman to make this vote in rogue red Oklahoma took political courage. Which BTW is something sorely lacking from her GOP contemporaries in the House and Senate.

She may have just signed her own political death knell in Oklahoma, but she did the right thing and history will be kind to her.

I called her number and told the young man on the phone in her congressional office to convey this message for me to Kendra Horn and told him she has my vote in 2020 if for no other reason that unlike Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell she has a sense of patriotism and accountability. Unlike the two ‘hawks’ she walked the walk when it was appropriate to do so.

I’m proud of Kendra Horn.

The two GOP hawks in the United States Senate are another matter.