Point guard Russell Westbrook was named NBA Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Feb. 1-7. Leading the Thunder to a 3-0 week, Westbrook averaged close to a triple double (19.7 points, 9.7 assists, 8.0 rebounds). He also averaged 3.3 steals. In Saturday’s win at Golden State, Westbrook’s eight steals matched the league’s season high. One of nine second-year players selected to play in Friday night’s rookie-sophomore game in Dallas, Westbrook is averaging 16.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and is eighth in the league in assists (7.5). "He has a very competitive streak in him,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "He’s a proud athlete. He’s only going to continue to get better.”
SIMMONS PRAISES ‘ZOMBIES’Bill Simmons, who wrote a 700-page book on the NBA and also writes for ESPN, calls the Thunder the Zombie Sonics, objecting to the team leaving Seattle. But in a reader’s mail bag on ESPN, Simmons insinuated he’s becoming a Thunder fan. "This is like my 10th or 11th year with NBA Season Pass,” Simmons wrote. "I have never gotten attached to a non-Celtics team before, and I’ve never played favorites if there were multiple non-Boston games at the same time. This year? I find myself gravitating toward Zombies games night after night. "It’s a real team. They like one another. They’re better as a group than they are as individuals. And Durant is the most special non-LeBron talent in basketball. Not only is there nobody like him, but there’s never been anyone like him. He’s an original prototype.”
DURANT MAKING ADJUSTMENTSTied for the league scoring lead, Kevin Durant is the opposing team’s focus defensively. His rookie season opponents put their best defender on him. Last season, they started double-teaming him. This season he’s seen just about everything. "I’ve seen boxes-and-one, guys face-guarding me, switches,” Durant said. "I’m learning how to maneuver through that, find my teammates and have them make the extra pass. That’s something I still work on a lot after practice. I still have a lot to learn.” Portland, tonight’s opponent, has given Durant as much problems as any team in the league. Durant has averaged "only” 18.0 points and shot 37.5 percent in five Thunder games against Portland, including a career-worst 3-of-20 game earlier this season.
FINAL PRACTICEThe Thunder held an 80-minute practice Monday morning at the Rose Garden in Portland. It was their last practice for a week. After tonight’s game, players aren’t required to return to OKC until 5 p.m. Monday. Is Brooks concerned some momentum could be lost during the All-Star break? "This is a lot of time off,” Brooks said. "The concern is guys taking six days off and laying on the couch. Today, we had a good practice. Our message will be take a day or two off with your mind, but your body can’t afford it. They have to get in a couple of good workouts.”