TOP FIVE MOMENTS
1. Russell Westbrook injury (April 24, 2013): Game 2 in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who hadn't missed a game in the NBA, college or high school, suffers a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee when he collides with Houston guard Patrick Beverley, who steps in front of Westbrook and swipes at the ball as Westbrook is calling timeout. Westbrook has season-ending surgery three days later. The Thunder beats the Rockets 4-2 to advance, but is eliminated in the second round 4-1 by the Memphis Grizzlies.
2. James Harden trade (Oct. 27, 2012): The Thunder offered Harden a four-year extension for roughly $52-$54 million rather than the $60 million max. Harden refused, so general manager Sam Presti worked a trade. It was simple economics. The Thunder couldn't go higher without getting heavily taxed. For Westbrook's knee injury to finish as a more significant moment than the Harden trade shows the importance of Westbrook, plus it's all in the timing. The timing of the Harden trade wasn't great, but a team would much rather work out the kinks in October than in May.
3. Serge Ibaka contract extension (Aug. 18, 2012): With a new season approaching, the Thunder was working to extend the rookie contracts of Harden and power forward Serge Ibaka. With these rather significant distractions out of the way, the team could concentrate on a potential championship run in 2012-13. Ibaka acted quickly by agreeing to a four-year, $49-million extension, plus another $2.5 million in incentives. Starting in 2013-14, Ibaka will be paid $12.25 million each year, which will help curtail the escalating annual salaries of Kevin Durant and Westbrook.
4. Scott Brooks' new contract (July 3, 2012): After technically being a free agent for roughly 72 hours, Brooks agreed to a new four-year contract reportedly worth between $16-$18 million that puts him in the NBA's Top 10 in terms of compensation. Not bad for a former interim coach who replaced a 1-12 coach in P.J. Carlesimo in 2008 only to start 1-12 himself. In his three full seasons, Brooks led the Thunder to 152 victories, the third-highest total in the NBA over that span. Brooks also had the very vocal endorsement of a superstar in Durant, which helped the cause.
5. Win No. 60/No. 1 seed (April 15, 2013): On the penultimate game of the season, the Thunder became the 20th franchise and the 68th team in the NBA's 64-year history to amass 60 victories in a season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, OKC had the fourth-youngest roster ever to win 60 games in a season. The 60th win came with a 104-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Chesapeake Energy Arena and also clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs for the Thunder. Three days earlier, OKC clinched its third straight Northwest Division crown.
TOP FIVE PERFORMANCES
1. Kevin Durant's half-a-hundred (Jan. 18, 2013): Hard as it is to fathom, Durant entered his sixth NBA season having scored 50 points only once in high school, college or pro. He reached half-a-hundred for a second time on this night at American Airlines Center in Dallas. (Durant doesn't count the 66 points he scored in New York's Rucker Park in the summer of 2011.) In a 117-114 overtime win over the Mavericks, Durant tallied 52 points, despite shooting 13 for 31 from the field, but he was 21 for 21 at the free-throw line.
2. Russell Westbrook's return home (March 3, 2013): In a scintillating Sunday afternoon showdown, Westbrook returned to his home area and put on a show at Staples Center with 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting, plus 10 assists and six rebounds to lift the Thunder's season record to 43-16. With the game in LA, fittingly all the stars came out. Durant lent a hand with 35 points, nine rebounds four assists and two steals. Clippers point guard Chris Paul countered with 26 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals.
3. Durant hits 42nd street in LA (Jan. 11, 2013): With the Thunder beginning a three-game road trip against Los Angeles, Portland and Phoenix, Durant began the journey with a 42-point game in a 15-point victory over the Lakers at Staples Center. Durant buried a season-high 16 field goals on 25 shots (. 640) and also had eight rebounds and five assists. Durant had 25 points by halftime and had 40 points through the third quarter. OKC left the building 28-8, tied with the LA Clippers for the best record in the league.
4. Serge Ibaka double-trouble for San Antonio (Dec. 17, 2012): The Spurs were missing Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, but Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, both 6-foot-11, were side-by-side in the starting lineup on a night Ibaka finished with 25 points and 17 rebounds (five offensive). It wound up tying his season-high in rebounds and was one point short of a season-high in points. Ibaka started out shooting 6 for 6 from the floor in a 12-point first quarter and finished 10 of 16. He also had three blocks.
5. Kevin Martin's 22-point first half (Nov. 16, 2012): In the first half of a game against the Hornets at New Orleans Arena, the freshly acquired Martin showed why he is one of the most efficient scorers in NBA history when he erupted for 22 points, shooting 7 for 11 from the field and 5 for 7 from 3-point range, all in a span of just 14 minutes and five seconds. It was only Martin's 10th game with the Thunder after being traded along with rookie guard Jeremy Lamb from Houston to OKC as part of the Harden trade.
FIVE BEST WINS
1. Thunder 97, Indiana 75, Bankers Life Fieldhouse (April 5, 2013): OKC cools surging Indiana with its best road performance of the season.
2. Thunder 108, LA Clippers 104, Staples Center (March 3, 2013): Westbrook sparkles in a knockdown, drag-out on a Sunday afternoon.
3. Thunder 117, Brooklyn 111, Barclays Center (Dec. 4, 2012): OKC (15-4) wins a shootout amid chants of “Brook-lyn” in Nets' new home.
4. Thunder 120, Houston 98, Chesapeake Energy Arena (Nov. 28, 2012): James Harden goes 3 for 16 and has six shots blocked in his return.
5. Thunder 100, Atlanta 92, Philips Arena (Dec. 19, 2012): Durant's 41 points help avenge loss to Hawks and extends OKC win streak to 12.
FIVE WORST LOSSES
1. Washington 101, Thunder 99, Verizon Center (Jan. 7, 2013): Wizards entered the game with a 4-28 record. OKC was 26-7. Enough said.
2. Minnesota 99, Thunder 93, Target Center (Dec. 20, 2012): OKC came in riding a season-best 12-game winning streak. Poof. Gone.
3. Cleveland 115, Thunder 110, Quicken Loans Arena (Feb. 2, 2013): Cavaliers (13-34) scored 39 points in the fourth quarter to win it.
4. Atlanta 105, Thunder 95, Chesapeake Energy Arena (Nov. 4, 2012): It took only two games for much-hyped OKC to lose at home.
5. Brooklyn 110, Thunder 93, Chesapeake Energy Arena (Jan. 2, 2013): Riding a 12-game win streak at home, OKC loses to former coach.
Tuesday — NBA Draft Lottery, 7:25 p.m. (ESPN), Disney/ABC's Times Square Studios in New York City. Thunder owns Toronto's first-round pick if it falls between Nos. 4-14.
May 30 — Guard Jeremy Lamb's 21st birthday.
June 6 — NBA Finals begin.
June 17 — NBA Draft early entry withdrawal deadline, 4 p.m.
June 20 — Last possible date for NBA Finals.
June 27 — NBA Draft, 6 p.m. (ESPN), Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
July 1-9 — NBA moratorium.
July 10 — NBA business resumes; free agents can sign contracts; new salary cap take effect.
July 10-16 — Amnesty clause window.
Early July — Orlando Pro Summer League (TBD).
July 12-22 — Las Vegas Summer League (no Thunder team).
July 31 — Coach Scott Brooks' 48th birthday.
Sept. 18 — Power forward Serge Ibaka's 24th birthday.
Sept. 24 — Forward Perry Jones III's 22nd birthday.
Sept. 29 — Forward Kevin Durant's 25th birthday.
Oct. 26 — Power forward Nick Collison's 33rd birthday.
Nov. 1 — General manager Sam Presti's 37th birthday.
Nov. 10 — Center Kendrick Perkins' 29th birthday.
Nov. 12 — Point guard Russell Westbrook's 25th birthday.