Several rules are a point of emphasis in the NBA this season, and one unquestionably will impact the Thunder.
When pregame introductions have concluded, teams will have 90 seconds to return to the court for the opening tip. The previous two seasons, OKC players routinely kept officials and opponents waiting before the start of every game, sometimes a full minute or more.
Before Tuesday night's preseason game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Thunder players noticeably rushed their routines before stepping onto the court in time for the tip. Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant was in the middle of his on-court greetings with teammates when the ball was put in play.
“I personally don't like it,” Durant said of the 90-second rule. “Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don't make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don't agree with it, but I don't make the rules.”
What adjustments will Durant make?
“Maybe I've got to go a little quicker,” Durant said. “I've got to make sure I acknowledge all my teammates before I walk out on the floor. That's just how I am. That's how we are as a team, guys do their thing, their handshakes. I do the tying (of) the shoes, the praying. I've just got to speed it up.”
Shortly before the opening tip, Thunder assistant Rex Kalamian escorted rookie forward Perry Jones III to midcourt and introduced him to the officiating crew of Ken Mauer, David Guthrie and J.T. Orr.
Is introducing officials to rookies standard practice in the NBA?
“No, that's just class is what that is,” Mauer said.
Fans seemed shocked to see former Thunder center Byron Mullens launching multiple 3-pointers. He went 4 for 10 beyond the arc and finished with 16 points.
The 7-foot, 275-pound Mullens attempted 51 3-pointers in 65 games last season, but shot just 23.5 percent. So far this preseason, Mullens is 14 for 32 (.438), by far the most 3-pointers attempted and made for the Bobcats.
Mario Nanni has returned as the Thunder's full-time public address announcer. In last year's playoffs, Nanni replaced Jim Miller, who was removed from duties after being arrested on complaints of lewd/indecent acts with a child.
Nanni spent seven years (1996-2003) as the Houston Rockets' P.A. announcer.
This was a Tuesday preseason game against the Bobcats (7-59 last season) and the Thunder still drew a sellout crowd of 18,203. … A sellout also is anticipated at the BOK Center in Tulsa for Friday night's preseason game against the Phoenix Suns. Only single tickets remain. … OKC had 34 assists on 48 field goals against Charlotte. … Thunder starters committed the team's first 12 turnovers Tuesday. The first turnover committed by a reserve didn't come until the 6:45 mark of the fourth quarter. … OKC guard Andy Rautins played a preseason-high 23 minutes, had 20 points and shot 7 for 10 from the field. … Seven players did not play for the Thunder — Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins, James Harden, Reggie Jackson, Daequan Cook, Hasheem Thabeet and Lazar Hayward.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks on the NBA's point of emphasis on flopping calls: “I like the rule. Hopefully we can eliminate it. It's nothing that you should be proud of. You're trying to trick the referees into calling a play that's not actually there. Hopefully they eliminate it and we don't have to talk about it again.”