Thunder at Jazz (Oct. 30, 2013)

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Salt Lake City– The Oklahoma City Thunder kick off the 2013-14 NBA season with a test against the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. Kevin Durant is missing his right hand man Russell Westbrook to start the season as he recovers from season ending surgery last may in the 2013 playoffs against the Houston Rockets. Reggie Jackson is starting in his place.

The Jazz lost two key players in Al Jefferson (Charlotte) and Paul Milsap (Atlanta) to trades, but gained several players from the lottery during the off season, acquiring Trey Burke and John Lucas III. The young point guard tandem and bigs Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors will look to make the Jazz respectable in a season of rebuilding.

The Thunder on the other hand have other issues facing them as they start the season. Jackson made several key starts in has maturing process as the second man at point for Oklahoma in last years playoffs. His play is crucial as a facilitator and as a scorer. It will be hard to make up for the explosive play of Westbrook for a player in just his third year as a pro.

Durant, at 28.1 points a game last year was the leagues second leader scorer for average behind Carmelo Anthony’s 28.7 (New York). In his sixth year as a pro, Durant has developed into a superstar, taking his team to the western conference finals once and to the finals two years ago. The return of Westbrook means a serious push toward the NBA finals next June, something held just within reach that last few seasons.

“We have 82 opportunities to put our best foot out there and play hard, aggressive basketball, and we take pride in that,” Brooks said.

Unfortunately they will have to play extra hard without Westbrook, who per ESPN, could be back as early as two weeks from today. But that wont stop them from being aggressive.

“We have to play to our capabilities,” Brooks said. “We want to be a physical team. We definitely don’t want to get pushed around no matter who we play… We want to establish what we do and we want to do it consistently for 48 minutes for 82 games.”

The game can be seen on Root Sports and Fox Oklahoma City, 6:00 PM Mountain.

Thunder season beginning Oct. 30th

The Oklahoma City Thunder look to better their chances of hoisting an NBA Finals trophy in the 2013-2014 season with the return of Russell Westbrook to the Lineup and another successful preparatory off season.

Kevin Durant and his Thunder begin their quest for a championship with the season scheduled to begin the 30th of October. Their first opponent will be the Utah Jazz at Salt Lake City, followed up by a meeting with the Timberwolves in Minnesota, before the season home opener against the Phoenix Suns Nov. 3. 

A total of 30 games will be nationally televised. (Ten on ESPN, 10 on TNT, four on ABC, and 6 on NBATV). Per Dailythunder.com

Thunder-Rockets: Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 1, “So, Old Friend, We Meet Again.”

sportslandia:

Old friends, longer beards.

Originally posted on Thunder Peakes:

At this time last year, the Thunder team was gearing up for the playoffs with their “big 3″ of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden. Trying to picture the Thunder without James Harden was difficult to do, and most Thunder fans didn’t even want to entertain the thought. And then the unavoidable happened.

James Harden had figured out his worth, and wanted to be given money and minutes accordingly.

I honestly wanted the Thunder to go into the red and sign him back to a max contract. Bennett didn’t. Besides, Presti knew we couldn’t give Harden the minutes he wanted anyway. So Presti did the only thing he could do, deal Harden for maximum value.

Was it the right move? Honestly, that question is still up in the air.

Harden has averaged 25.9 PPG since the move to Houston. He only has 4.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists a game, but his +/-…

View original 338 more words

Shades of Beard

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OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s here. The match-up Thunder nation has been waiting for, and it couldn’t have come any sooner.

The Houston Rockets will look to spoil a reunion of old friends and the defending western conference champion Thunder tonight at Chesapeake Arena in game one of the Western Conference divisional playoffs.

Kevin Durant, despite losing to Carmelo Anthony this year in the race for the scoring title is focused and ready to go against one of his old teammates.

“We have to come out with a lot of energy, a lot of effort, make the second and third efforts,” said Durant during today’s morning workout.

Second and third and efforts shouldn’t come easy as both of these teams play a high paced offense and look to run the fast break. The dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Durant will look get a win over the Rockets after being scorched in their last meeting when Harden put up 46 points and 6 assists against his old squad.

Scott Brooks knows his team is ready.

“We had a great 3 day preparation. The focus and commitment to each other was at a high level. We’re excited,” said Scott Brooks during today’s workouts.

As for Harden and his 8 seed rockets, they fell into place just at the last second as they let one go against the Los Angeles Lakers in the final game of the season. the Lakers face the Spurs in the first round.

“I knew it was going to happen like this, for some reason,” Harden said. “That’s the beauty of it, that’s what basketball is,”

And the beauty is, they can all be friends off the court, but now its back to work for Harden and his boys.

“It’s all business now,” Harden said. “Those guys are competing for a championship, so it’s all business.”

Westbrook also shared his sentiment on seeing his former teammate in the first round.

In the battle between Oklahoma City and Houston it could come down to playoff experience. The Thunder have seen one more step in success each year, reaching the Western Conference Finals two years ago before losing to Lebron James and the Heat a year ago in The Finals. They are looking to make that last leap toward perfection, and they will do it without the reigning sixth-man of the year James Harden.

“It’s fun,” Westbrook said. “He has his team. He wants to win just as much as we want to win, so it should be fun and interesting.”

Game on.

Disorganization Confrontation in Laker Land

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Much has been said about various NBA players ranting about each other, even to the point that casting the blame on a team’s difficulties escalates to to the point where even parents join in on the fight.

I’m not talking about the little scuffles that go on day-to-day within the organizations of the small market teams, but the much larger debates within the locker rooms of the spotlight teams. I am talking about the Los Angeles Lakers.

The friction within the organization has recently fell upon co-stars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

This past week, in an exclusive interview with ESPN’s Jackie Macmullan, Kobe Bryant had some choice words for his team mate d in what has been a frustrating first half of the season.

“We don’t have time for [Howard's shoulder] to heal,” Bryant told MacMullan. “We need some urgency. [Howard] has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is.

Of course, Kobe is not intending to damage the relationship he has with fellow co-star Howard, but he is trying to elevate his team to a new level; a championship level.

With five rings on his fingers and nearly two decades tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant has earned the right to say how he feels with the Laker organization, and to a large extent, that is what Laker Nation expects from him.

Long time NBA reporter/journalist Skip Bayless feels that Kobe developed his uncanny ability to inspire by speaking out, saying what he thinks – encouragement through public displays of discontent, a quality that could be attributed to Phil Jackson, who mentored Bryant into absolute stardom. This of course is just a singular approach, one that has worked for some players, and destroyed careers of others.

Kobe Bryant’s discontent with the Laker organization may never be perfectly clear but he has clearly chosen sides on a few issues, one of them being the constant struggle of Laker Nation to accept the hiring of Mike D’Antoni over former Laker legend Phil Jackson.

Dwight Howard uncomfortably has sat out the three previous Laker games, all of which were won, and unfortunately the jabs keep coming on both sides. Kobe doesn’t think that his comments about Howard were taken out of context, but that he spoke with Dwight afterword to let him know his objective in saying what he said was purely to motivate.

The Lakers (24-28), lost to the Miami Heat (34-14) on Sunday night after Lebron James and Dwyane Wade put on an amazing show in the fourth quarter to close out L.A. in Miami. Kobe and Co. are just ready to move on. He he-said they-said we-said has got to stop if they want to win basketball games and become real contenders.

“It’s people who try to harbor and hang onto stuff all the time,” Bryant said of the dynamic between him and Howard. “He just has to do his job, rebound and defend. We do our jobs and our roles in what we have to do to help us win. It’s not rocket science.”

While the Lakers sort things out amongst themselves, the rest of the west if pushing forward, revving up to what should be an exciting All-Star weekend and then the second half of the season.

The larger picture will not be seen until Howard is one-hundred percent healthy, Pau Gasol comes back, and D’Antoni figures out how to use his personnel most effectively on the court, but Bryant is optimistic about the future of the team.

The man wants to win another championship, and at the end of the day, whether it’s Pau, Dwight, or Kobe taking the shot, Bryant’s goal is ring number six. No matter the cost.

Heads between the Lines: Carson Perry

I just wanna give a shout-out to one of my good buddies and co-worker Carson Perry. He’s an awesome dude and shares an insatiable desire for sports such as I do.

The timing of this post comes due to his recent call and soon departure to Italy, where he will serve as a full-time Latter-day Saint missionary for two years. As a missionary he will participate in the Mormon church’s effort to help share the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring souls closer to Him.

He deserves all the respect in the world for this and he will do a great service to all those that come in contact with him.

As a rival to my sports knowledge, equal in enthusiasm and debate, Carson’s decision to serve a mission is far more respected and revered than any other activity that would transpire in his life at this time and ranks second to none in importance.

Go get ‘em bud. I’ll see you on my sports debate show in a couple years as an honored guest.Image