The NBA's new collective bargaining agreement has increased the Thunder's traffic on the Turner Turnpike this season.
The previous CBA limited players to no more than three NBA Developmental League work assignments the entire season. Starting in 2012-13, there is no limit to the number of times (or amount of time) a player in the first three years of their NBA careers can be assigned to their D-League affiliate.
Players beyond the first three years of their careers also are eligible, but the player and the NBA Players Association must both approve of the assignment.
However, no team is allowed to issue a D-League assignment for the purpose of disciplining a player for misconduct and retaliating against a player.
The lack of assignment restrictions and the proximity of Tulsa to Oklahoma City are allowing the Thunder to liberally assign and reassign players to the Tulsa 66ers to accrue much-needed playing time.
Already this season, Thunder players Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, DeAndre Liggins, Daniel Orton and Perry Jones III have gone back and forth to Tulsa, which owns a 5-2 record.
Lamb is averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in five games. Jackson had 20 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his one appearance.
In his three games, Liggins averaged 11.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.7 steals and had a triple-double in the 66ers' season opener. Orton has played all seven games and averaged 11.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals. Jones has played in two games and averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
In the Thunder's 104-93 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night, three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant scored 17 of his 27 points in the second half and had 10 points and five rebounds in the final period.
Durant rediscovered his shooting touch in the fourth quarter, converting 4 of 6 shots after making just 5 of 18 through the first three quarters.
Russell Westbrook also heated up in the fourth quarter after a frigid first three periods, scoring six points (3 for 5 shooting) and collecting two key steals in the final three minutes.
“Westbrook kept them under control,” Pacers guard George Hill said afterward. “KD had a couple pull-ups and things like that late in the fourth (quarter), but Durant taking tough shots and making them, that's what he does. … He shoots 50 percent of open shots. We never shoot that high variety of them and it's tough when he can make them in so many different ways. You just have to continue doing what you do, and today he made them.”
The entire Thunder roster attended its annual Target shopping spree at Penn and Memorial on Monday night. … Sunday against Indiana marked the second time this season new arrival Kevin Martin had 22 first-half points. He also scored 22 in the first half at New Orleans on Nov. 16. … This season's 17-4 start is the second-best in OKC history. The team started 18-4 last season. … The Thunder has 12 straight games of 100-plus points. The last time that happened was the 1994-95 season in Seattle when the streak hit 19 games. … OKC is 15-1 this season when it has more (or ties) in fast-break points.
Indiana forward Paul George on defending Durant: “With a guy like him, you can't necessarily stop him. You just make it tough for him. I felt like in the beginning I was aggressive on him and tried to make him really work. The second half I had the same mentality, but shots liked to fall for him.”
BY JOHN ROHDE