Thunder hoping to improve on the road
DEC 10, 2013 2:05p ET
Yes, OKC is 15-4 and just fine in regards to seeding, playoffs, positioning, just whatever. But last time the Thunder hit the road, they went 2-1, but all three games were drastically different.
The Thunder struggled against Sacramento, nearly blowing a 17-point lead, fell behind early against New Orleans before rallying and then losing a big, second-half lead at Portland.
Up next: At Atlanta Tuesday and at Memphis on Wednesday.
Will the Thunder be the team that shot 61 percent against Indiana or something different?
That, and three more things to consider before this two-game trip:
Maybe Kevin Durant will find some on the Hawks to hold a grudge against
Hey, it worked against Paul George and the Pacers on Sunday, so maybe it will work against Atlanta tonight.
Anyone see Durant against the Pacers? Determined and focused like no other time this season. The result was 14 points in the first quarter and 36 for the game. Sure, Durant always has the potential to go big, but I think he took his matchup against George personally.
"He's getting tired of hearing about Paul George," Kendrick Perkins told the Oklahoman. George, as one of the top players in the league, is gaining some traction, but Durant, at the very least, gained some ground Sunday.
George had 32 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Durant had the 36, but the difference in the game can be seen on the plus-minus stat. George was –19. KD was +26.
Of course, Durant downplayed the matchup, but it undoubtedly fueled him. To what extent, who knows, but if Durant can find that kind of motivation against the Hawks tonight, he could score 50.
Finally my Rookie of the Year candidate gets a shot
I may be on a one-man bandwagon, but since the Thunder drafted Andre Roberson in July, I've been saying he's going to be a star.
So far, so mehhh. Roberson has barely played, getting in just six games this year, playing just more than 5 minutes per game, in mop-up time, but it all could change tonight when the rookie out of Colorado gets the start. Thabo Sefolosha is out with an ankle injury so Roberson got the call. He spent the past week playing in Tulsa on the D-League team and averaged 17.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game while shooting 56 percent.
Naturally, Roberson won't be expected to score tonight, but what he can do is defend. That's going to be the factor heading forward which will determine his playing time. Just 6-foot-7, Roberson is the kind of player who has the rebounding knack. He's also the kind of player who is suited to guard just about anyone. Remember back in July when he said he was going to surprise Kevin Durant? Yeah, that's why the Thunder got him. He's not afraid to guard people and he's able to go get a rebound.
Go ahead and get your, "Roberson for Rookie of the Year," shirts now. I'll be wearing mine.
Wonder what Perk does next
Let's face it, people have been kicking dirt on Kendrick Perkins for a long while now. Hey, we've all been there. It's certainly understandable, too.
But after what he did against the Pacers, he looked like a different player. It may have been the best game Perkins has played in a year. Not only was he matched up against maybe the best center in the league in Roy Hibbert, Perkins had six points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes. It's more minutes than he had played in the past four games and after the game, it was reported by The Oklahoman that Perkins wasn't feeling well. Oh, and Hibbert was 6-of-12 for 12 points. Not too shabby for Perk.
For years we've heard Thunder coach Scott Brooks say OKC doesn't' need offense from its center position. And less than a week ago, I even suggested the Thunder consider starting Steven Adams, and there may be something wrong with Perkins, but after what he did against the Pacers, it makes you think about things.
There's something to be said for experience. Perkins showed that. Now, we're getting ready to see if he can do it again.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK
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