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Thunder notebook: Trades generate national praise

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: February 24, 2011

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 His four rescinded technical fouls seemingly give some credence to that sentiment.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."


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