From the "Round Mound of Rebound" to some of the most respected basketball writers around, the Thunder's two trading deadline deals were met with overwhelming approval Thursday.
In one deal, Oklahoma City acquired Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson from Boston in exchange for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, and in another, the Thunder dealt Mo Peterson and D.J. White to Charlotte for center Nazr Mohammed.
"I love the toughness that they now have," said NBA legend and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley. "I love the fact that they'll be able to hit some guys in the head when they come down the lane."
TNT analyst and NBA.com writer David Aldridge said, "I think Oklahoma City is going to remember this day as the day they took a step up to be a true championship contender in the NBA."
ESPN.com's John Hollinger wrote: "By also finally giving Green's spot to the vastly more effective Ibaka, they've improved two positions with a single trade. In other words, it's time. For three and a half years, the Thunder have been a team of the future. Today, they became a team of the present."
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix wrote on Twitter: "This is why Sam Presti is one of the most respected GM's in the biz. He has patiently built this team, never reacted to cries for (a) quick move. Now, he has the young, defensive-minded center he thought he was getting when he dealt for Tyson Chandler. Boom."
NBA.com's Sekou Smith wrote: "If the Thunder's aim was to amass a towering and physical frontline rotation capable of challenging the Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs in the Western Conference, consider that mission accomplished."
ESPN's Chris Broussard said: "Sam Presti, he was the GM in Seattle who sent Ray Allen to Boston and (Celtics GM) Danny Ainge. I wonder if this was payback. If Danny said: "All right, you helped me win a title. I'm going to help you win a title.'"
CAN THE SPURS BE CAUGHT?
With its 109-105 win over the Thunder on Wednesday, San Antonio improved to a league-best 47-10. The Spurs are now 26-2 at home and have won 19 straight home games, their last home defeat coming against Dallas the day after Thanksgiving.
The Spurs currently have a six-game lead over the Mavs for first place in the conference and are 10 1/2 games ahead of the Thunder.
If you ask Kevin Durant, they can't be caught.
"No. I don't think so," Durant said. "With the way their playing and their record right now, it's going to be tough to catch those guys. You got to give those guys a lot of credit. People didn't think they'd be this good since they're an older group of guys. But they're playing phenomenal basketball right now, and it's a team we can learn from."
HOWARD WORKING TO KEEP EMOTIONS IN CHECK
With 14 technical fouls, Orlando center Dwight Howard is two techs shy of receiving and automatic one-game suspension by the league. Howard enters tonight's game against the Thunder tied with New York forward Amar'e Stoudemire for the league lead.
"I'm an emotional guy," Howard joked over All-Star Weekend as he wiped away pretend tears before turning serious. "I just got to do a better job of trying to bottle up my emotions and use them the right way. I'm animated on the court as you guys know. So I think sometimes when I do something that the refs may think is out of character, they have a quick trigger and I get a tech. So I just got to try to do whatever I can to stay calm."
Howard said he thinks he is a target by officials. His four rescinded technical fouls seemingly give some credence to that sentiment.
ANOTHER PERIMETER TEST
One game after allowing the Spurs to make 13 of 21 3-pointers, the Thunder must now face a Magic team that holds the record against it for made 3-pointers in a game this season.
Orlando buried 14 of 28 3-pointers in the first meeting on Jan. 13. The Thunder still managed to steal a 125-124 victory.
Against the Spurs, the Thunder gave up eight 3s on 11 attempts in the first half alone.
"The first half, it was ridiculous," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "In the first half they made eight out of 11. Six of them were mistakes on our part. We were over-helping when help wasn't necessary."