Thunder Climb Into 5th Seed With Win Over Kings, 112-108

Going into this game it looked like it would be a tough emotional spot for Oklahoma City and it was. The Kings built a 19 point first half lead, but as per the norm with this team they didn’t panic. There’s a very nice blend of youth and vet experience on this ball club. They don’t flinch. They dig in and find a way to climb back into games.

This isn’t just Chris Paul. The team as a whole has bought in and it shows every game in different variations. And at this point I am going to give Billy Donovan some major props on how he’s handled this team throughout the season. He’s had a nice feel with his team.

Six different players scored in double figures with no one really being what I would describe as the dominant star. To me the play of the game was when Dennis Schroder made a twisting layup with his left hand to in a sense give the impression this was going to be another Thunder win.

And it was.

The Thunder are still a player away from being elite in that Dort, Ferguson, and Diallo by committee have nights when they can fill the role, but for them it will become more difficult as the caliber of competition cranks up in the goal achieving portion of the schedule.

Tonight in Milwaukee will an interesting test for these three players, plus for Steven Adams with having to handle Brooks Lopez on the perimeter.

For me Milwaukee is the best team in the East with Boston at two and Toronto at three.

I like Milwaukee tonight at somewhere around 7.5 to 8 points.

I’m jacked for the game as an NBA fan and very much hoping it’s Mike Breen, Jeff van Gundy, and Mark Jackson on the call.

It’ll be a good time to settle in with a glass of wine and some microwave popcorn and see what happens.

How Hot Are The Thunder?

I’d like to go to my official okcthunderground.com data board so as I can possibly help some of the Daily Thunder Bernie Sanders millennial types pick up their scores or at least learn some things for next season’s bracket sheet which they may not get from Johnny Thunder and/or Justin.

Since the day after Thanksgiving the Thunder are 30-11. Only the Milwaukee Bucks with 35 wins since the same date have a better record.

At home overall the Thunder are a decent 21-13. Before Thanksgiving at home…the Thunder are 6-5, after Thanksgiving the Thunder are 13-8.

On the road overall the Thunder are a sublime 17-9 despite going 0-6 on the road before Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving the Thunder are a remarkable 17-3.

Since New Year’s the Thunder are 18-7.

From January 18th the Thunder are 13-3. Within these games the Thunder are 9-2 in games decided by 10 points or less. In the three Thunder losses the widest margin the Thunder have lost by is ten points and in the three losses the combined negative spread for Oklahoma City was 19 points. The Thunder have basically been in every game since January 18th.

Don’t just get exclusively hung up on the repetitive nonsensical dogma of the millennial nerds who never played or coached sports. But by the same token math and numbers if applied with experienced nuance are what separate the winners from the losers against Vegas.

The Sacramento Kings are in town tomorrow night. I haven’t looked at the Vegas spread just yet with the coronavirus most likely set to rip off another trillion in market equity value these next two days given the manner in which Trump froze like a deer in the headlight reacting to the pandemic.

The Kings have won three in a row and the Thunder have the Milwaukee Bucks on the road the next night on ESPN with Mike Breen and Jeff van Gundy. The Kings game makes me a bit nervous with so much attention looming towards Friday night’s game. I wouldn’t take the Thunder and give the points. What you might do though is play the market short two trillion between now and next Thursday.

If the market falls to 25,000 next week…then of course Trump’s first term economic numbers will fall below the Obama numbers for his first term when he inherited a depression-like economy from Bush 43 and Dick Cheney.

Lots of data to compute here at okcthunderground.com for the next week or so.

2nd Annual OKC Thunder Media Awards

This is the second year I’ve done this. I try to be highly objective in my critiques of the various outlets which cover the Thunder. I have only one category…The Big Boy Britches Category. Unlike the Oscars—I don’t waste three hours getting to the point.

  1. Mike Jackson okcthunderground.com
  2. Berry Tramel The Oklahoman
  3. Jim Traber Sports Animal
  4. Glenda Independent blogger
  5. Dusty D Sports Animal
  6. Erik Horne The Athletic
  7. Mark Rodgers Sports Animal
  8. Maddie Lee The Oklahoman
  9. Johnny Thunder Daily Thunder
  10. Justin Independent blogger

Keep up the great work. I enjoy your work and please fight for all First Amendment rights every day just like I do. MJ

Thunder Survive Bulls For 9th Straight Road Win, 124-122

This was a tough night for me…so much to take in as a guy running the next CNN/ESPN/CSPAN out of his study.

What a day and night. The U.S. markets completed a two day run in which $1.7 trillion dollars in equity value went poof as the Trump administration was finally advised by bloggers the economies in China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and Italy are in shutdown mode due to the coronavirus and its impact on world trade. I hope this illustrates to the Trumpsters that, you know… the world markets are kind of interconnected and have been since the Marshall Plan. In as they all need each other and this isn’t freakin’ 1904. It will be interesting to see what the markets do today.

Then there was the debate where it’s become apparent to me Elizabeth Warren has cut a deal with Denmark’s Emperial Czar Bernie Sanders for her to be his defacto POTUS in the event the millennials vote him into the White House. Amy Klobuchar had the line of the night when she correctly said that both Sanders and Warren rank in the bottom third of the U.S. Senate metrics wise. It was absolutely spot on, but nobody really noticed. That tells me pretty much we’re going heading towards Milwaukee.

As far as the Thunder game in Chicago—it was awesome. Winning is awesome. Winning is fun. Winning perpetuates a glow around your team even on a night when the team struggled on the defensive end of the floor.

OKC survived on a night when the Bulls’ Zach Lavine went off for 41 points and Colby White almost matched him with 35 points of his own.

The game went down to the last shot when the Thunder finally got a stop on Lavine to survive Chicago with a 124-122 nail biter. It marks the Thunder’s 9th straight road win which is a of course a club record. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook never did this during their runs in Oklahoma City.

Chris Paul. What else can I write on here? Just so clutch. He led the Thunder with 34 minutes in his new vegan honed body and made every little play down the stretch the Thunder needed from him to get this win. On the night he scored 16 points coupled with 9 assists. He was my No. 1 Star….again.

Then there was Stevo. The refreshed, rested, and healthy Kiwi who’s been on a tear since the All-Star break was again fabulous. Steven had 16 points on 6-8 shooting, 9 rebounds and perhaps the game’s biggest defensive play with a late block shot which was huge.

Shai, Dennis, and Gallo went for 21, 21, and 24 on a night when all three were relatively effective.

Rockstar Lu Dort had a rough night and struggled getting thru screens chasing Zack Lavine throughout the night. Lavine is a tough matchup for Dort who played 24 minutes and was -3.

But there’s thing about this team of late…Terrance Ferguson who has been brutal pretty much all season…stepped up and went 3-5 from behind the arc and scored 11 points. Which is good because Daily Thunder’s own Royce Young told the world this would be Ferguson’s breakout season averaging 15 points a game pretty much like he did last season with Alex Abrines. This is what happens when you choose a path of kissing Sam Presti’s ass versus a course of you know…being an objective honest writer.

But I do hope for Terrance, who seems like a terrific kid, this is a reset for his season because the Thunder need something from him every night if they want to take their game to the next level.

Next up…the Sacramento Kings at home.

Kobe Tribute Was Beautiful

I watched the recorded replay of Kobe’s tribute late last night and it was simply beautiful in the manner in which it was done. Vanessa Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Shaq all shared with the world some very special memories of Kobe the man off the court.

Michael’s role as Kobe’s surrogate older brother was incredibly touching giving us a view to a more private side of Kobe through the years.

Shaq was Shaq. The line about passing the ball and the letters M-E being in team was hilarious.

But mostly it was Vanessa who floored me with her intimate portrayal of Kobe as a father and a husband. She shared what I thought were some very private thoughts of her journey in life with Kobe from her high school days up until his death.

She floored me when she mentioned how like the characters in ‘The Notebook’…Allie and Noah—they were so much looking forward to their days as grandparents at some point while growing old together.

Are you kidding? Kobe Bryant was watching The Notebook with his wife. I mean, for us chick flick savants the classic love story by Nicholas Sparks of the relationship between Rachael McAdams’ character and Ryan Gosling’s character is epic. I’ve actually moved it up on my list of great chick flicks in recent years.

I have The Notebook at No. 3 on my Pantheon of Greatest Chick Flicks. My wife got me addicted to Nicholas Sparks and we’ve seen every Sparks novel adapted to film ever since.

It doesn’t surprise though really. Kobe was a books and film kind of guy and that’s what in his final years drew me much closer to him as a fan than I was to Michael.

Somehow…just because I now know The Notebook was their film it’s refreshing to me and something which will keep me even more connected to the legacy of Kobe Bryant. Kobe loved Quinton Tarantino movies and Nicholas Sparks love stories just like me.

If you haven’t seen The Notebook—I would strongly advise you take the time to watch it. It will soften your heart in these turbulent times in which we live.

Can’t wait to see you again, Kobe.

This is for the memory of Kobe and Vanessa. Who would have known…Mamba loved The Notebook.

Can The Thunder Win 50 Games?

Maybe.

Of course…I’m beating Vegas like a dog as per the norm in the West this season in the Daily Thunder contest even though I’ve been banned from actually commenting any longer over there because of a sexually insensitive comment I made in reference to a moderator. But…yes—there is a path for the Thunder to reach the 50 win plateau if things swing right.

Standing at 35-22 with 27 games there is clearly a path for this Thunder team to reach 50 wins this NBA regular season.

Let’s go to the data board. Of the Thunder’s remaining 25 games–14 games are against teams with a record at the .500 mark or below.

Of the Thunder’s remaining 25 games… 16 games are on the road while 9 games are at home inside the friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Ever since the west coast road swing to Utah and Portland at the 8-12 mark of the season… this team has been the best road team in the NBA with Lu Dort finally being inserted into the starting lineup full time. The Thunder take their pristine eight game road winning streak to Chicago tomorrow night in search of a record 9th straight road win. Usually this kind of imbalance of road to home would daunt me somewhat. But with Chris Paul playing at an MVP level and Billy Donovan finally pulling his head out of his ass and inserting Lu Dort into the starting role this ratio doesn’t faze me in the least.

Let’s go to my current Top Six Power Poll as of today: I go in this order…1 LA Lakers, 2 Milwaukee Bucks, 3 Boston Celtics, 4 Denver Nuggets, 5 LA Clippers and 6 Toronto Raptors. Against these teams the Thunder are a combined 3-7.

The Thunder have seven games remaining against these elite teams coming down the stretch. These will all be tough either at home or on the road. Plus, the Thunder have two games at home versus the non-elite Utah Jazz, one road game against the borderline elite Miami Heat, and in Game 82 a tough road assignment in Dallas to close out the season.

Vegas currently has the Thunder at 47.5 wins. I routinely beat Vegas– so why be overly cautious now.

Provided both Chris Paul and Gallo stay healthy…I have the Thunder finishing 50-32 entering the playoffs.

Ovechkin Notches 700th Goal

Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th goal late last week to move into 8th place on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list. This must be featured on my sports/world view blog as Ovechkin continues his run as one of the truly greats the sport has ever seen. Like Putin….I have Ovechkin as my favorite active contemporary player in the game.

It won’t be long before the most glorious tournament in all of sport gets going in early April. It is my favorite time of the year when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway. I love the Thunder and OU football for sure, but nothing compares to the journey for the right to hoist the Cup.

No one in Oklahoma covers the NHL, but as per my norm on my modest little blog…I’ll be covering the Stanley Cup Playoffs and of course…. The Masters as well.

Last year was fabulous with the St. Louis Blues defeating my Boston Bruins in Game 7 on the road to win their first ever Stanley Cup Championship.

It could very well be a rematch this year as Boston and St. Louis both sit atop their respective conferences as the teams to beat. In the West…I have the St. Louis Blues as a solid favorite to get back to the Finals.

Even though Boston has the best record in the entire NHL…the East will be tough. Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Tampa all have teams which could make the Finals depending on whose goalie and whose power play gets hot at the right time.

I have the whole cable extravaganza to watch every NHL playoff game once the playoffs get started. It’s a juggling act for me between the NHL and NBA, but I make it work. The Thunder of course get first priority, then the Boston Bruins.

Just a wonderful NBC Sunday game yesterday as Ovechkin’s Washington Caps beat Sid’s Pittsburgh Penguins by a 5-3 count with a late open netter to clinch the game.

Ovi per se isn’t what you’d call a pretty goal scorer like say the prissy Gretzky. Gretzky didn’t check or fight though. But Ovechkin is a ‘real’ hockey player. Prolly my second favorite goal scorer of all-time is Canadian born Super Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps the most unique blend of size, hands, and pure goal scoring skill the game has ever seen. I get goose bumps watching this video. Seriously–I get goose bumps.

Traber loves hockey like I do and he’s a Pittsburgh fan. So maybe I’ll call him and see if he could do a little on air talk about the impending Stanley Cup Playoffs.

LET’S GO BRUINS!

Lu Dort, Stevo Lead Thunder Past Road Worn Spurs, 131-103

Winning is a contagious thing. It’s like a drug in team sports and currently the Oklahoma City Thunder are on a roll which in theory could possibly lead the Thunder to the No. 2 seed in the West before this regular season comes to an end.

The Thunder fresh off their Friday night conquest of the Denver Nuggets didn’t succumb to a mental let down on Sunday evening in route to an easy 131-103 rout of these San Antonio Spurs who are in grave danger of not making the playoffs for the first time in the past twenty-three years.

‘On the night, eight Thunder players for the first time in Oklahoma City history scored in double figures. It was a night of stark historical contrasts for the rising Thunder and the sinking Spurs. It was tough for me to watch because I love Pop, but the No. 1 Rule of Coaching very seldom misses the mark–that being…Player makes the coach. As in Tim Duncan playing for Greg Popovich rather than being an assistant coach for the iconic coach is what made the Spurs great.’

LET’S BOLT THIS above for the tweety-bird weaklings over at the Daily Thunder in as they have no grownups over there with enough verve to write a paragraph such as the above or anywhere for that matter.

My three Thunder stars of the game would be in this order 1 Lu Dort, 2 Steven Adams, and 3 Christopher Paul. My son’s name is Chris and I just did that to see if I like calling CP3 by his formal name…. maybe every now and then.

Lu Dort was utterly outstanding and in essence he’s taking the heat off of Sam Presti for ever using a first round draft pick on Terrance Ferguson. The undrafted rookie Dort scored 15 points on the night on a perfect 6-6 shooting night and was literally every where on the floor in the second period when OKC was in the process of owning the game.

Let’s highlight this as well…’On the night Lu Dort was a +36.’

For the second straight game—Steven Adams was 2016 post season Stevo with a 21 point, 14 rebound night, plus he did a Joe Biden-like smell of Pop’s hair going thru the postgame handshake line. In case you never knew…Steve loves Pop’s political takes almost as much as I do. Fortuntely‚Ķ Elizabeth Warren didn’t see Stevo do this so I think he’ll escape a one game suspension from Adam Silver.

Chris Paul had a ho-hum 12 point, 10 assist night. But the most important stat of the night was Billy Donovan only put 27 minutes on CP3’s legs and 25 minutes on Gallo’s body.

As far as court time—I think it would be wise for Billy D to monitor Stevo’s minutes as well. Nerlens Noel has been fabulous and I actually have no problem whatsoever with Mikey Muscala getting some 8-10 minutes a game given on how he’s been fairly effective for the most part during this Thunder run since early December. Either way…keep Steven’s body fresh for April.

With the win the Thunder improve to 35-22 and for the first time this season are 13 games over .500.

The Thunder take their eight game road winning streak to Chicago on Tuesday night to play the Bulls.

Bernie Sanders Rolls Joe Biden in Nevada

I think this will perhaps be an evening we look back on with some historical reference. This night it became clear to me Bernie Sanders will most likely become the Democrat’s nominee for president.

There are two things which Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have in common: 1 Neither should have ever been the nominee of a major political party for the office of POTUS, and 2 Both have put together passionate populist movements which have rabid base support from polar opposite sides of the political spectrum.

But begrudgingly… I admit passion is a big thing in American politics. And these two people have passionate, rabid bases to a pragmatic fault which will continue to prevent anything of any real consequence getting accomplished in Washington D.C.

My first passionate choice when this all started was Michael Bennet. But he had no chance in hell whatsoever because his education, background, resume, and character clearly made him unelectable from Day 1. He was made to be the next president, but he never had a chance. None.

My fall back position is Michael Bloomberg and in reality he has no chance whatsoever as well. Elizabeth Warren made sure of that last Wednesday evening in Las Vegas.

I would suggest Mike Bloomberg maybe stay in the race as a hedge or insurance candidate in the event a Trump supporter kills Bernie Sanders at one of his rallies. But otherwise—I would protect my very positive legacy and not waste my time arguing with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Stop tweeting with Trump and just try to educate the American electorate with your ads on the most pressing issues of our times.

Instead–I would take your money and help Jeff Canada assist young black males all over the country empower themselves and walk through the door of the American Dream… but without a basketball or football in their hands. See if LeBron and Barack would help you with this noble cause. What a generational legacy that would truly be. Being elected POTUS in these times…not so much.

Even with Crazy Bernie being the Dem’s choice—there’s no way in hell I would ever vote for Donald Trump. He’s a grifter, a fraud, a con artist…but most of all he has a malicious heart. He doesn’t care about anybody but himself.

In the end… can I vote for Bernie Sanders? I don’t want to because in essence to a different level he’s doing the same thing Trump did in 2016. That being… conning his own base with a litany of promises even FDR couldn’t have gotten passed into law…. and he does have the dacha on Lake Champlain like all good party members of the Politburo have in the Russian homeland.

I’ll probably end up doing what I did in 2016 and write in some one I admired at the end of their life and career… someone like John McCain. Someone who realized he made some mistakes along the way, but in the end showed he had a worthy heart.

Or maybe I’ll pick a woman or a famous citizen of note. But I’m fairly certain I’m not voting for Crazy Bernie or Donald Trump.

Should Chris Paul Be in the MVP Conversation?

Actually…Chris Paul and his brother almost rented the house across the street from my family back when he was here the first time with the New Orleans ball club. It would have been extremely cool for me, but it didn’t happen.

Should Chris Paul be in the MVP conversation?

I wouldn’t have him winning the MVP unless OKC does something crazy like climbing into a top three seed in the West, but he’s definitely in my conversation as far as being in the top six or so.

I look at it this way…what would the Thunder be without Chris Paul if they would have traded him for draft picks or let’s even say Tyler Herro from the Miami Heat?

Let’s say they traded him for Herro and a pick with the rest of OKC’s roster intact. I’d say OKC would be about a 28-32 win type of team. I don’t think either Shai or Dennis this season were ready to be the primary point guard of a team in transition.

Vegas has OKC now projected to win 47 games and make the playoffs.

So with Chris Paul staying healthy…. I could easily see the Thunder going say 16-10 in their final twenty-six games and doing no worse than the No. 6 seed. That’s a stark difference from the other scenario.

But I also think this has to be moving forward an education for both Shai and Dennis on how to play the point guard position and how to be a professional on and off the court. It’s a nice thing to have the president of the NBA Player’s Association as your teammate and your mentor.

So how would I cast my ballot this afternoon for the NBA regular season MVP to date? I’d go…. 1 LeBron, 2 Giannis, 3 Luka, 4 Siakam, 5 Jokic, and 6 either Chris Paul or Kemba Walker.

Knock on wood and stay healthy–Chris Paul… because Oklahoma City basketball fans are having a blast this NBA season…. even the little clueless nerdy tweety-birds over at Daily Thunder.