Thunder Rumblings

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Nuggets from my notebook from Sunday's win over New York

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: February 9, 2014 at 6:15 pm •  Published: February 9, 2014

I thought Durant-Melo was supposed to be a marquee matchup…

  • For someone who claims he doesn’t like the spotlight, Kevin Durant sure does steal the shine a lot. He did so again Sunday. Scored 41 points. Grabbed 10 rebounds. Dished nine assists. D’d up Carmelo Anthony from start to finish, helping to hold the Knicks star and league’s second leading scorer to a season-low 15 points on 5-for-19 shooting. And he did it while making it all look easy, which is the scary thing about the level Durant has reached this season. No longer does it look like the game is a puzzle for him. The days of him thinking or pressing appear to be long gone. Now, everything is instinctive. That’s been the most impressive thing about Durant’s last month and a half. He’s just playing, and at this point he’s just playing with opponents.
  • “He’s a willing passer now, and he’s finding people all over the place,” said New York coach Mike Woodson.
  • This was Durant’s 10th straight game with at least five assists. He’s registered at least seven assists in six straight.
  • Since Jan. 1, Durant is averaging 6.6 assists.
  • Durant: “Once we play with the pass, we’re unpredictable. So we have to continue to make the right plays.”
  • Durant missed five free throws tonight, which is uncharacteristic but not bad considering he attempted 18.
  • Durant’s foul shooting will probably prevent him from posting another 50-40-90 season. Which is a shame because he would become the first player in NBA history to average 30-plus points while posting those shooting percentages from the floor, 3-point line and free throw line. Durant’s misses today dropped him to 87.7 percent from the foul line.
  • During a stretch from the 3:49 mark of the third quarter until 5:30 in the fourth quarter, Durant scored or assisted on 21 of the Thunder’s 23 points.
  • The Thunder’s 3-point shooting has been much better of late. OKC went 12 of 27 from deep tonight and is now 103-for-252 in its past 12. That 40.8 percent clip would lead the league if the Thunder kept that pace all season.
  • Much of the credit for the Thunder’s turnaround as a 3-point shooting team is a credit to Derek Fisher. The guy has been scorching over the past 12 games. He made two of his four 3s today, and over that 12-game span he’s made 23 of 43 shots, a 53.4 percent rate. In his first 40 games, Fish was shooting 30.2 percent from 3-point range.
  • Durant on the team’s 3-point shooting: “We’ve been working on it. We’re making good passes, and guys are making themselves available. But also, you don’t get wide open 3s unless somebody gives himself up; the guy rolling to the rim, the guy passing the ball gives himself up for the team. And that’s what we need to do in order for us to keep making those shots. It’s going to be a game where we don’t shoot it well. But if we take them with confidence, that’s all we can ask for.”
  • Durant on Fish: “Fish is one of those guys, he’s consistent with his play, no matter if he’s making shots or not. We know he’s going to bring that toughness on defense. He’s going to make the right plays. He’s going to be there for everybody. His shots, we don’t worry about that because we know he puts in a lot of work and if he gets them he’s going to knock them down eventually. So he’s one of those guys that’s consistent and we don’t worry about.”
  • Scott Brooks on Fisher hitting big shots: “Um, really? Yeah, I haven’t noticed that much over the years.”
  • Brooks then turned serious: “He’s everything you want in an NBA player. He competes. He never cheats the game. He has great experiences. He has five championships, eight Finals appearances. He’s a superstar in his role. And we have many guys like that on our team. That’s what makes us a complete team. But he knows how to play, and he understands where to be on both ends of the floor. He’s not the quickest guy in the world. But you make up for that with toughness and desire and determination and heart. And the analytics can never put a number on that. I’m for all the analytics out there. But the thing that I love more than that it guys’ heart and care and commitment to competing for the team, and he does that at a high level.”
  • Thabo Sefolosha was fan-freaking-tastic yet again defensively. He took J.R. Smith out of the game, helping to hold him to seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. On consecutive possessions in the opening period, Sefolosha stripped Smith and got a one-man fast break dunk at the other end before hounding Smith again and knocking the ball out of bounds off his foot. Much later in the game, Sefolosha got switched onto Melo and did a terrific job of making his shot difficult. Just more of Thabo doing what Thabo does.
  • In Sunday’s paper, I wrote about the Thunder having just one All-Star despite owning the conference’s best record. You can read that story here. But chew on this, courtesy of The Elias Sports Bureau. Prior to this season, 67 teams have had winning percentages of .750 or better at the All-Star break. Of those 67 teams, only four had only one or fewer All-Stars. The teams: the ’73 Bucks, the ’99 Blazers, the ’05 Mavs and the ’09 Cavs. The Thunder became the fifth team this season.
  • Melo gon’ feel that Kendrick Perkins screen tomorrow.
  • Because the Marcus Smart shoving incident is kind of a big deal around here, Durant was asked his thoughts about it after the game. It’s obviously not Thunder related, but it’s still relevant in my opinion because fan conduct and athletes’ reaction to that conduct is bigger than Smart and Oklahoma State. The Thunder, and Durant specifically, has gotten into it with fans on several occasions this season. The game at Portland and at Atlanta are two examples. Also, Durant played at Texas Tech while starring for Texas. So he’s been in that building and has heard from those fans. Here’s what Durant said. “I played in that place my one year at Texas,” Durant said. “And those fans say some crazy stuff to you. But he’s a 20-year-old kid, I think. And in the heat of the moment, it’s easy for you guys to judge him because you’ve never been in that situation. But I’m sure he’s regretting it. He made a mistake. Easy to learn from it. You should show the guy some grace. He’s a good kid. It looks like he’s definitely going to learn from it, but at the same time it’s the heat of the moment and I’m not sure I would have reacted any different. So it is what it is. Hopefully everybody can move past it and enjoy how he plays the game because he’s a big-game player.”
  • Durant was then asked if fans can cross the line at times and get personal. “Yeah, most definitely,” he said. “And I just put it like this, if you wouldn’t say that if we were walking down the street then you should keep that to yourself. But it’s the heat of the moment, too, for those guys watching their teams. But at the same time, we’re all human and words do hurt. Some things should be kept to yourself. But that’s the name of the game. It’s something that you got to just not worry about and just keep playing. But, like I said, Marcus Smart is a good kid. We should all just love on him and show him some grace and move past it.”
  • And here’s Metta World Peace’s take.
  • Up next: at Portland on Tuesday.
by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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