03 February 2011
Bring on your snowstorms and blizzard-like conditions, Mother Nature. Actually, please don't. The entire country is kind of getting a bit tired of all of this snow this Winter. Therefore, I take that back. As long as you know that even some of the worst weather conditions of the year outside cannot cool off Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder inside the Ford Center.
The Thunder won a big game against the New Orleans Hornets last night, 104-93. That win gives the Thunder a 3-1 series victory over the Hornets this season, which could be huge when it comes to playoff positioning. As of right now, the Thunder hold the fourth seed in the NBA Western Conference, with the Hornets trailing them by just a half game. If they finish tied, Oklahoma City would get the head to head tie break advantage, which would give them home court if the two were to face off in the first round.
Just something to think about for April.
Of course, the number two or three seed may be even better.
But for now, we'll take what we can get. The treacherous conditions led to an estimated crowd of a little over 13,000 last night. The official attendance was 17, 849, which snapped a streak of 12 consecutive sellout crowds. Yet even the weather could not slow down the Thunder's offense once the game started.
Even against one of the more impressive defenses in the game, Durant was able to go off for 43 points in last night's victory. The Hornets have the number two scoring defense in the league, yet Durant shot lights out from the start, connecting on 14-19 field goal attempts, as well as converting 5-7 from behind the three point line and 10-11 from the free throw line. Durant also added 10 rebounds and 5 assists to go along with his fifth 40+ scoring performance of the season. It is also the third time in the past four games that he has eclipsed the 40+ point mark.
Oklahoma City used a 32-17 third quarter to help pull away from New Orleans. They shot just under 53% from the field and outrebounded the Hornets 44-32 for the game. They also ran all over their opponents, outscoring them in the fastbreak department 18-3.
Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook were once again the only other players to finish in double figures in scoring, with 12 and 10 respectively. Green added 7 rebounds while Westbrook chipped in with 8 assists. Serge Ibaka continues to prove that he is worthy of a starting roster spot, as he finished last night's win with 8 points, 12 rebounds and an astonishing 6 blocks. Although, I guess it is not all that astonishing when you consider he is capable of blocking that many shots on a nightly basis. He has become a beast on defense for this team.
Oklahoma City will travel to take on the Phoenix Suns on Friday night before heading out to take on the Utah Jazz the next night. It will be a difficult two day turnaround for the Thunder. As for a few game notes, Cole Aldrich was called back up from the NBADL prior to last night's game. He did not see any playing time against New Orleans. Also, Thabo Sefolosha missed his third straight game with a left knee sprain, while Nenad Kristic suffered a right foot sprain during last night's contest. He will have an MRI later today and be re-evaluated following the results.
You can tune into TNT tonight starting at 7 PM as they will reveal the rest of the NBA All-Star teams. Hopefully this season, Westbrook will hear his name called.
* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24, as he was recently named One of the 1,000 Most Influential Sports Writers on Twitter.