Kevin Durant is on a tear. The Thunder’s small forward enters tonight’s game against Utah with five straight games of at least 30 points, one of them a season-high tying 40-point effort. And Scott Brooks still wants more. The Thunder coach wants his star to start securing the ball better. The issue was raised on the recent two-game East Coast swing through New Jersey and Washington, where Durant tallied 10 turnovers, five in each game. "I tell him he has to be strong with the ball,” Brooks said. "And he’s cognizant of it. He’s a good ball-handler, but when there’s a crowd around him, that’s when he gets into trouble. So as a staff we’ve been trying to teach him to pass out of it and then the ball will always come back around.” On three possessions in the first quarter against the Nets, Durant simply had the ball slip out of his hands while making a move, suggesting he has grip issues. Durant said he doesn’t use the courtside resin during games. On other trips, defenders stripped Durant on drives to the basket, which might mean his hands are another part of his body that needs strengthening. Durant, who is averaging a career-high 3.68 turnovers and 4.1 in December, didn’t make excuses for the giveaways. "I just turned it over,” Durant said. "I need to take better care of the ball.”Comments
Maynor downplays first meeting with JazzDespite being traded by Utah on Dec. 22 for salary cap relief, rookie guard Eric Maynor said he doesn’t have any ill will or extra incentive to play well during his first game against his former club tonight. "The thing about it is it wasn’t anything personal with them trading me, so I don’t have (a reason) to talk about revenge or anything,” Maynor said. "It’s not like that with me. I’m just going to go out there and play basketball like I do every night.”
Room for improvement?When asked about Russell Westbrook’s potential to blossom into a nightly triple-double threat, Brooks said the rebounding category currently is the most difficult stat for his point guard to accumulate. Westbrook is third among point guards in rebounding with a 4.9 average, his 1.6 offensive boards ranking first among players at the position. "Offensively, he’s a pretty good rebounder,” Brooks said. "But he needs to focus more on getting defensive rebounds. I think he can get five of those a game.”
BrieflyFormer American Idol contestant Matt Giraud will perform the national anthem and a special halftime show as part of the Thunder’s festivities during tonight’s New Year’s Eve game against the Jazz.