Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The Thunderworld has moved. You can now get your Thunder fix and all the erratic Royce commentary you can handle at www.dailythunder.com.

Why Daily Thunder? I don't know really. It has a little cache, but not cache out the ying-yang. But instead of trying to be overly creative and fail with some awful blog name like Flying ThunderDogs or DurantGreenWestbrook.com, I just went a little generic. It's the content, not the name anyway, amirite?

So don't forget, DAILY THUNDER. Go. Read. Thunder.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomorrow is moving day

Start gathering boxes, because tomorrow the Thunderworld is packing it up and moving on out. I'm not totally sure if it will be a complete redirect, or if I'll just have to do a CLICK HERE!!!!! type thing, but in any event, just a heads up that tomorrow, you won't find me here.

I'm really excited to join something that I think will be absolutely amazing. So get excited everybody. And be ready to update those blogrolls.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Heat vs. Thunder: Pre-gamer


Miami Heat (21-18) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-33)
Sunday, Jan. 18
Ford Center
Oklahoma City, OK
6:00 PM CST

TV: KSBI-52 (Cox 9)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)

View from the other side: Peninsula is Mightier

We all know what's on the line tonight. And we all know it's more than possible. Over the past two and half weeks, Oklahoma City has played its best basketball of the season and beaten two pretty good teams.

Much like the last two solid teams the Thunder has beat (the Jazz and the Pistons, if you somehow inexcusably forgot), the Heat struggle away from home. On the road, Miami is 9-12 compared to 12-6 at home. And the Thunder are pretty stingy at home, winning four of six at the Ford and six of their eight wins have come at home.

Obviously, what OKC needs to do tonight is rebound, take care of the ball and continue to play tough defense. The Thunder have a +73 rebounding margin over the last five and in seven of their eight wins, have outrebounded their opponent. And the Heat aren't really a great rebounding squad, ranking 23rd in the league in boards.

OKC matches the Heat really well, with Desmond Mason getting the unenviable assignment of Dwayne Wade. But other than that, you got to like Russell Westbrook on Mario Chalmers, Kevin Durant on Shawn Marion, Jeff Green on Udonis Haslem and Nenad Krstic/Nick Collison on Joel Anthony.

Let's get No. 9 tonight and move on with our lives. And you look at the upcoming schedule, and there's winnable games against Golden State, the Clippers, the Nets and Memphis coming up. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but if the Thunder continue to play as my dad would say, "Want-to," they can keep winning.

Friday, January 16, 2009

When you win a game, then you consecutively win another, what's that called again?

Since Dec. 31st, the Oklahoma City Thunder are playing better than .500 basketball. After an 89-79 win over Detroit, OKC (8-33) now has won two in a row. That's right, TWO IN A ROW. Digest that for a minute. Swish it around, let it marinate.

How about more -- when Oklahoma City left Detroit after a tough last-second loss three weeks ago, the Thunder was 3-27. Now? Eight and thirty-three. One off the 1972-73 Sixers. Think anyone's checking ESPN's little tracker anymore? The Thunder are 5-5 in their last 10 and have won three out of four. And also, not the worst team in the league anymore in terms of wins -- OKC is now tied with Washington and the Clippers. One more: After starting 0-20 against plus .500 teams, OKC's first winning streak came against two teams a combined 13 games over.

The first seven minutes of the fourth sealed the deal. How? Because OKC started the last frame on a 15-0 run and Detroit (22-16) didn't score until there was 6:13 left. The Pistons were ice cold, missing their first eight shots of the fourth. Detroit was outworked all night, evidenced by the 52-35 rebounding edge in favor of the Thunder. Here's a crazy stat: Detroit didn't grab an offensive rebound until there was under four minutes left in the third quarter. Overall, OKC pulled down 14 offensive boards to the Pistons' five. Over the Thunder's last five games, they're a +73 on the glass. As Brian Davis would say, wow.

And think about this one -- the Pistons missed five straight free throws at one point in the third, but get this: Detroit was 3-8 from the line overall. That's it. Three for eight. And it wasn't like Detroit just shot the ball poorly or turned it over a ridiculous amount. The Pistons hit 46 percent and only gave it up nine times. No Piston scored more than 18 points. The pace wasn't even that slow tonight, but OKC's defense was great, giving up a season-low 79 points. In the second half, Detroit scored just 33 points. Wow, again.

You look at the box score and you see Jeff Green's miserable shooting night going an awful 2-16 from the field and you'd think he didn't have the best game. But as far as I'm concerned, he's the player of the night. He was huge on the glass, grabbing 14 rebounds, he dished five assists and he was an absolute force defensively. Look at Green's +/- tonight, an awesome +17. And he wasn't visibly frustrated with his poor shooting night. He kept working, kept driving and kept playing hard. That's a wonderful thing.

Speaking of the +/-, the bench guys were great as Earl Watson had a +12, Chris Wilcox had a +13 and Kyle Weaver a +10. Great production from the pine tonight, especially from Wilcox who had 17 and 11. And Desmond Mason had 11 and 11 from his shooting guard position and played excellent defense on Rip Hamilton.

Russell Westbrook finally had a rookie night. About dang time. He was 2-10, scored five, had six assists and played just 27 minutes, but he was actually really good. Because the Pistons' offensive catalyst, Rodney Stuckey, didn't score until there was under a minute left in the third and just had three points overall. But how about that little head-fake, fake pass, up-and-under he pulled on Rasheed Wallace in the third quarter? Or that near monster dunk over the entire Pistons team toward the end of the game? Two sweet moves from RW, even on a bad offensive night.

Here's how good OKC was as a team tonight - it's been six paragraphs and I haven't even mentioned Kevin Durant and his electric 32-point offensive showcase. He scored 12 in the first, four in the second, 10 in the third and six in the fourth. He was 14-21 from the field and 2-3 from downtown. He grabbed six rebounds and only turned it over three times. In other words, maybe his most complete line of the season. But one thing that impressed me more than anything was a sequence late in the second quarter. Westbrook drove and kicked out to Durant who was at the top of the key wide open for three. Tayshaun Prince was closing on him and instead of taking a good look, Durant swung the ball to Green in the corner who was open and knocked down the triple. KD has got it -- he's a superstar and an elite scorer, but he understands being a teammate first. He had his entire game working, but he didn't force anything. It came to him and he made it look easy. I don't care what he says -- he deserves to be an All-Star.

This is the team we thought we were going to see. Competitive, gritty and a group of youngsters that are talented, but raw. The NBA season is definitely a marathon -- these types of games happen for contenders. The Pistons were flat and got outplayed and outworked. But that doesn't make it any less awesome. Especially when at one point we were looking at a 1-16 team, then 2-24, then 3-29. Now they've won two in a row and have another winnable home game against Miami -- another plus .500 team. And one more gives OKC, (deep breath), win No. 9. That's right.

OKC gets the Heat Sunday night at 6 p.m. at the Ford.

Pistons vs. Thunder: Pre-game view


Detroit Pistons (22-15) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-33)

Friday, Jan. 16

Ford Center

Oklahoma City, OK

7:00 PM CST

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722)

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)

View from the other side: Piston Powered

Another chance at revenge. I'm not even going to say anything about starting a win-streak, uh, nevermind.

Everybody knows it, but I'll say it: The Pistons better come into the Ford Center ready to play. The record says 7-33, but you better treat the Thunder like a 33-7 team or you're going to walk out with your tail between your legs and your beat writers will be saying things like, "Embarrassing loss for Detroit to the worst team in the history of man," and "If there's one thing Detroit can take with them, besides a humiliating loss to a bunch of kindergartners, it's the dust and cow poop that's all over Oklahoma." But seriously, the point is there -- bring your lunch pale to Loud City or be prepared to get rolled.

You'd assume the Thunder's confidence would be off the charts and tonight they'll come in fired up and clicking. But I actually fear that the opposite may happen. I could see a flat team, feeling some sort of weird sense of entitlement coming out and playing bad ball. The thing about OKC is that while confidence is one of the best things in all of sport, second to that is playing with a chip on your shoulder. The Thunder need to realize they haven't earned anything yet and haven't won anything yet. They need to add confidence to the disrespect they've felt and play their hearts out for 48 minutes and see what happens.

But while I worry about that, I trust Scott Brooks will have them ready and will explain this to them. After all, he is an NBA coach. I'm sure he's been over that little theory before. But as for matchups, OKC matches Detroit well. As we know, the last time the two teams played it took a buzzer beater to down the Thunder in Detroit. The Thunder has been playing well, and especially well at home. Russell Westbrook, well, no need to talk about what he's doing well. He's just been awesome. He can handle anything Allen Iverson/Rodney Stuckey has and more than likely, Westbrook will be able to get to the rim and get his shot whenever he wants it.

Such a huge key is how the three Thunder stars play. Against the Jazz, Westbrook had 22, Jeff Green 23 and Kevin Durant 21. Add in Nick Collison and Nenad Krsitc's solid play and there's a formula to get a win. But against a good team loaded with good players, you can't have just a couple parts functioning. Things need to be clicking for the role players and the stars.

Depending on how you view sports trends, you can look at this game two ways:
1) The Pistons have an eight-game winning streak over the Thunder franchise.
2) The Pistons have lost three straight, with the last two being against Charlotte (six-game winning streak over the Bobcats snapped) and Indiana (eight-game winning streak snapped).

It's been four years since Detroit has lost four in a row, which leads one to believe the Pistons would play well tonight. They've lost two games against sub-par opponents and obviously don't want to continue that against the Thunder. But then again, maybe the Pistons are in a lull and this is a good time to catch them. Like the Jazz, the Pistons are mediocre on the road, winning just 10 of 19 away from Detroit. Two wins in a row (crap, I said it) would be nice, but two wins in a row against a couple of playoff teams would be really nice.

UPDATE: Just came out that Nick Collison is questionable for tonight because of a stomach virus and Rasheed Wallace missed the Pistons' shootaround today because of illness.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hey Ross, for your information, I'm riding my horse downtown to send a telegram, thank you very much

As you know, I've lived in Oklahoma all 23 years of my life. I love this state. It's as much a part of me as my last name. So that's why this type of stuff kind of bothers me. In the Salt Lake City Tribune's gamer, written by Ross Siler, here's his lead (hat tip: Doug):
"Because there's nothing to do in Oklahoma City, the Jazz had no excuse for not showing up Wednesday night against the Thunder and suffering a 114-93 humiliation at the hands of the NBA's worst team."
So funny. I bet Ross had to pause and clean his computer screen because he probably spit his coffee all over it after he wrote it due to a wild burst of laughter.
Look, I've heard all the stereotypes and all the put-downs. I know people think we all live in tepees, hang our clothes outside to dry them, haven't discovered the "Internet" yet and the only things that ever happened here was a bombing in 1995 and the Dustbowl. I get it. But geez, trying to toss a little zinger out there in your lead is just unnecessary, especially when you live in SALT LAKE FREAKING CITY. It's not like this was a New York or Miami writer. This guy lives in a city famous for Mormons and snow. Ooooh. Ahhhh.

All the disrespect toward the team doesn't bother me one bit. They're 7-33. They better be disrespected. They brought it upon themselves. But enough about Oklahoma. And people laugh when we all made a big deal about getting professional basketball here. We wanted to change our image and we feel pro hoops can go a long way in helping that. But here's something I wonder: People often say, "There's nothing to do in Oklahoma City." Well, explain to me how much more there is to do in Chicago, San Antonio, Houston or Dallas? I've been to those cities. Spent a lot of time in a couple of them. What more is there to "do" there than here? Go to Navy Pier? Go to the Alamo? You really think residents are making weekly trips to the Sears Tower? Oh, in Dallas they have a movie theater. What's that? Oklahoma City has one too? Oklahoma City has 15?!?

Seriously, someone explain how one of those so-called big cities are so much different than OKC. Sure, they may have an underground live music scene or something, but what normal person really wants to make their way down to some gross coffee shop to hear some band called Two Trips to Hell sing their emo hearts out and make you want stick your face in the coffee grinder.

From my various trips to big towns, the main differences from Oklahoma City are:

A. More traffic
B. More crime
C. More jerks
D. More expensive parking
E. In fact, no where to park
F. Higher gas prices
G. More expensive houses

Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore Chicago. I spent part of my honeymoon there. It's my favorite city. It has things Oklahoma City does not. Houston has some unreal qualities. San Antonio has a wonderful charm that OKC doesn't have. But these pot-shots at OKC are lame. This stuff about the only things to do are "read your Bible" and "take your lady on a horseback ride" are really ignorant. I've always said, if people knew what Oklahoma City was really like, they'd be packing their bags and moving here right away. So maybe I better shut up.

Quick Bolts: 1.15.09

As some may have noticed, I haven't been doing the daily bolts due to the fact I've gotten kind of busy lately and also the fact that I'll be moving sites soon (really, really soon) and those have kind of fallen by the wayside. But I intend to return to scouring the net finding anything and everything about the Thunder and bringing them here so you don't have to spend the time searching. But here's a few quick things to point out:
  • Ball Don't Lie, Behind the Box Score: "But even up against Utah's best, I'm not sure the Thunder take the loss. These guys just had it tonight, shots were falling, and Scott Brooks has these guys playing so damn hard. Boston, and I mean the team that beat New Jersey by 32 points on Wednesday, would have had trouble against the Thunder. Oklahoma City crushed Utah on the glass, absolutely destroyed them. The Jazz were without Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap, which helps, but that doesn't excuse Andrei Kirilenko from pulling in just one board in 39 minutes. I don't care who he had to guard. A 48-26 rebounding advantage for the Thunder. Nenad Krstic had 14 and 11 off the bench, Kevin Durant (5-12) and Jeff Green (8-13) had the turnarounds rolling, and Russell Westbrook just has it. You could see it back in November, even when he was tossing out miserable contributions and making mistakes all over the place. He looks like Devin Harris, with a tailback's build. I don't know what happens from here on out, but what looked like a reach from Thunder brass last June now looks like a coup. Kudos."
  • Be The Three says we should have seen last night coming (and if you're a reader of The Thunderworld, you would have seen it coming, because I said it was coming!): "If you weren't paying attention you'd be shocked that the Oklahoma City Thunder, currently sitting at 7-33, just spanked the Jazz, 114-93. But it's actually not that surprising. After 25 games or so where their offense was a disaster on wheels, the Thunder had actually been playing solid basketball for about three weeks. In fact, the Thundies shot a higher field-goal percentage than their opponents in eight of 10 games going into the Jazz game Wednesday night. They shot at least 48 percent six times in that span. And yet, they they managed to go only 3-7--good for the Thunder, but not a record you'd expect from a team regularly out-shooting its opponents. Why were they still losing? Because even when they shot well, they made the dumb mistakes young teams make."
  • Henry Abbott of TrueHoop agrees, but cautiously: "I'd also add that in any one regular season NBA game ... anything can happen. The opposition can have a bad night. Real surprises come in the playoffs. But nonetheless, you have to be loving this if you're an Oklahoma City fan. Blowout wins can do wonders for your confidence."