OKC 2013-14 NBA Schedule Looks To Be A Tough One This Year

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s schedule for the 2013-14 season has been released and it looks to have a number of viable games of interest. Make sure you buy your Thunder tickets today to ensure that you will be coming to the Chesapeake Energy Arena this year.

The Thunder will open their home schedule on November 3 with the Phoenix Suns. The Thunder’s second home game is on November 6 and will be against Dallas. This should be a better game what with Dirk Nowitzki looking to move on from last season’s tough times.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been a circus in recent weeks and it’s unclear of Kobe Bryant will actually be in the lineup when they come to OKC on December 13.

The Chicago Bulls will visit the Thunder on December 19. It is unclear as to whether Derrick Rose will be fully healthy for the Bulls at this point. Rose missed all of last season recovering from a knee injury.

The Thunder will still be home in time for New Years Eve when the team takes on the Portland Trailblazers at home. There has been much debate over whether the Blazers would have been better had they taken Kevin Durant in the draft instead of Greg Oden.

The Brooklyn Nets will be coming into OKC on January 2. Whether the team’s acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will bring the team to the top of the East is uncertain. Both those players left the Boston Celtics, a decimated team with an unproven new coach in Brad Stevens. The Celtics will be coming to OKC on January 5.

While the Indiana Pacers were a strong team last season, many argue that this was primarily because Rose was not playing for the Bulls last year. Still, the Pacers have the top rebounding staff in the NBA with Roy Hibbert and Paul George leading the way. They will be coming out to Oklahoma City on December 8.

The Thunder will host the San Antonio Spurs on November 27 and April 3. These games should prove to be entertaining as the status of who the best team in the West is could be at stake during these games.

The Thunder will also play the Houston Rockets on December 29 and March 11. While dealing with former teammate James Harden might be a challenge, there is no telling what to expect from the Rockets this year as Dwight Howard enters into the fray.

The most anticipated Eastern Conference home game for the Thunder this year will be their games against the Miami Heat on February 20. One storyline worth observing involves not only what Greg Oden will do with Miami but also if Lebron James will actually stay as he becomes a free agent in the 2014 offseason. This home game will be the start of a six game home run for the Thunder with games against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 23 and the Memphis Grizzlies on February 28.

The Thunder will close out the regular season at home against the Detroit Pistons on April 16. Whether or not the Thunder will have taken the division at this point is not clear just yet but this should prove to be an interesting season for the Thunder regardless.

 

Schedule (EST)

Nov. 3 vs. Phoenix Suns 7:00

Nov. 6 vs. Dallas Mavericks 9:30

Nov. 10 vs. Washington Wizards 7:00

Nov. 18 vs. Denver Nuggets 8:00

Nov. 21 vs. Los Angeles Clippers 8:00

Nov. 24 vs. Utah Jazz 7:00

Nov. 27 vs. San Antonio Spurs 8:00

Nov. 29 vs. Golden State Warriors 8:00

Dec. 1 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 7:00

Dec. 8 vs. Indiana Pacers 7:00

Dec. 13 vs. Los Angeles Lakers 8:00

Dec. 15 vs. Orlando Magic 7:00

Dec. 19 vs. Chicago Bulls 8:00

Dec. 22 vs. Toronto Raptors 7:00

Dec. 29 vs. Houston Rockets 7:00

Dec. 31 vs. Portland Trailblazers 8:00

Jan. 2 vs. Brooklyn Nets 8:00

Jan. 5 vs. Boston Celtics 7:00

Jan. 11 vs. Milwaukee Bucks 8:00

Jan. 17 vs. Golden State Warriors 9:30

Jan. 19 vs. Sacramento Kings 7:00

Jan. 21 vs. Portland Trailblazers 8:00

Jan. 27 vs. Atlanta Hawks 8:00

Feb. 3 vs. Memphis Grizzlies 8:00

Feb. 5 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 8:00

Feb. 9 vs. New York Knicks 1:00

Feb. 20 vs. Miami Heat 8:00

Feb. 23 vs. Los Angeles Clippers 1:00

Feb. 26 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers 8:00

Feb. 28 vs. Memphis Grizzlies 8:00

Mar. 2 vs. Charlotte Bobcats 7:00

Mar. 4 vs. Philadelphia 76ers 8:00

Mar. 11 vs. Houston Rockets 8:00

Mar. 13 vs. Los Angeles Lakers 9:30

Mar. 16 vs. Dallas Mavericks 7:00

Mar. 24 vs. Denver Nuggets 8:00

Mar. 28 vs. Sacramento Kings 8:00

Mar. 30 vs. Utah Jazz 3:00

Apr. 3 vs. San Antonio Spurs 8:00

Apr. 11 vs. New Orleans Pelicans 8:00

Apr. 16 vs. Detroit Pistons 8:00

The Thunder Inches Closers To The #1 Seed

The Oklahoma Thunder only have one thing in mind and that’s to get their chance at revenge against the Miami Heat. Last year’s lost is still on the minds of the organization and so it only makes sense that this season will be a failure if they don’t win the championship. The Thunder squad has secured their spot in the playoffs and they are very close to winning the Northwest division. Kevin Durant and company will need to really focus on closing the season out strong because the West is just getting better and better. Though the team has been able to get another 50+ win season, it is even more important that the team comes into the playoffs with confidence.

Oklahoma City has not been as dominant compared to early in the season as they have been playing “average” basketball. They were able to beat the Utah Jazz but recently just came off of a loss against the streaking New York Knicks.

Durant Needs To Take It To The Next Level

Kevin is arguably the best scorer of this generation but he will need to take it to the next level to be able to carry this Thunder team. Though the team has done fairly well without their 6th man James Harden, the Thunder still needs a third man to step up and help with the scoring load. Though Kevin Martin was a great pickup for the organization, other players like Ibaka and Sefalosha need to find ways to pitch in.

The Warriors Will Be A Challenge

One of their biggest games left in the regular season would have to be the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are slowly but surely maturing and they are getting better as their players are getting healthy. Westbrook will have a tough time containing the Warriors backcourt and this is where the Warriors might cause trouble. The team from the Bay Area has been able to beat them in the past and with Bogut back, this will be a great test before the playoffs come.

The First Round Of The Playoffs

The Thunder are ready for the playoffs but their success will depend on who they play in the first round. If the Lakers are able to sneak into the playoffs and the Thunder will somehow grab the number one seed, then they will have to face a very tough Lakers squad. Though the Lakers have yet to prove that they are indeed a decent team, the talent on that squad cannot be overlooked. With Kobe Bryant as the team’s leader, there is no way anyone can doubt that this team can do some damage. However, the squad that the Thunder will most likely face is the Thunder at the 7th seed and the Thunder will get the 2nd seed. This is a much better match up for the Thunder and they should win this series in 6 games or less.

Whatever the road may be to the NBA Finals, the only thing on this team’s mind is to face LeBron and company one more time.

Spurs vs. Thunder – OKC Misses Rare Opportunity To Overtake First In The West

Tony Parker was still not in the team. Started off with a 30 point loss in the home court, the San Antonio Spurs were ready for a tough competition against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Oklahoma Thunder fell for the Spurs 105-93. It was a great first quarter for the visiting Thunder. At one point in the game the OCK Thunder was leading the game by 13 points. It was certainly a team effort by the Spurs for their 12-point win in the end.

– Game Summary

In the second quarter, the race was neck and neck with both teams with 44 points (4:40). The Spurs scored almost 68% of the shots in the second quarter and overtook the OKC with a 17-point lead. Kendrick and Westbrook with a total of 8 shots were able to convert 3, which led the Spurs to lead the game by 7 points during the halftime. On the other hand, Durant played a total of twelve minutes and attempted 3 shots.

With only 3 minutes left in the game before the end of 3rd quarter, the score was 71-70. Durant misfired a lot of shots and Westbrook was on fire with his six shot. Durant was definitely not doing well in the recent times. He totally attempted 20 shots in his past 4 games (19-49) which is just 39 percent. The OKC Thunder was only able to score one third of what the Spurs scored in the third quarter with 4-12.

Apart from great conversions, the Spurs were able to dominate the game after the 2nd quarter by literally forcing 17 turnovers in the course of the game. With great defense, they were able to move the ball around and totally piled 25 assists in the game. Russell was shooting jumpers and fouled Durant earlier which made 3 point plays not likely. Parker was not there to keep Westbrook engaged, so the cunning Popovich sent in Gary Neal to play point and it paid off well. Gary led the San Antonio Spurs with a total of 6 assists.

If the Spurs can continue to play at the level they did last night, they have a very good chance at being the top contender for the title. While the defense struggled in the first quarter, they seemed to figure out some serious kinks throughout the rest of the game. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are continuing to steadily improve, but Tiago Splitter should take the award for the most-improved Spur this year.

Side note: Rookie Nando De Colo was not seen in the battlefield to fight for the Spurs. He has not played more than 6 minutes even in the last 3 matches because of the absence of Parker.

Both teams have to play 18 more games, where the Spurs will have to play 11 games at home and the Thunder will be playing 9 games at home.

– Verdict:

Several three-pointers at the right time and with Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan dominating the game, victory seemed imminent for the Spurs after the third quarter. The San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma Thunders will go head-to-head again (regular season) during the first week of April 2013.

Lakers vs. Thunder – Two Powerhouse Teams Clash Tuesday Night In Oklahoma

When the Los Angeles Lakers came to Chesapeake Energy Arena, the power and vigor of the 18,203 mostly Thunder fans created a playoff like atmosphere. It would be the match up between a current NBA Western Conference power in the Thunder and a Lakers team once a powerhouse themselves struggling to make it into the postseason. The presence of TNT for an unusual Tuesday night national telecast did nothing to detract from the moment.

 

The Thunder had issues of their own at the All Star break dropping 3 straight, 2 prior to the star studded weekend in Houston and 1 following it. Since then they seemed to have “righted the ship” by winning 4 of 5 leading up to this showdown with the team from Hollywood. Just 2 days before, OKC visited Tinsel Town for another nationally broadcast affair and left with a 108-104 “W” against the Lakers Staples Center co-tenant, L.A. Clippers. The Thunder kept right on cruising in this one as they came away with an impressive 122-105 victory.

 

The only thing the Thunder lost in the game was the opening tip when Dwight Howard out jumped Kendrick Perkins. The rest of the way belonged to OKC. After 4 of the Thunders starting 5 in Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Thabo Sefolosha each scored without an interruption by L.A., the score was 7-0. Westbrook would go on to lead all scorers in this game with 37 points. The Thunder led after 1 quarter 37-28.

 

In quarter number 2, the Thunder out scored the Lakers 34-27 including a 25 foot 3 pointer by super sub Kevin Martin. In fact, this was the Thunders highest scoring half of the season. Durant hit a trey himself, followed by a fade away jumper towards the end of the quarter. This completed another 7-0 run at the end of the half and the Thunder headed for the locker room at intermission leading 71-55.

 

The Lakers showed signs of life in the 3rd quarter getting within 6 (85-79) after a 3 pointer by Steve Nash at the 3:31 mark of the period. The Thunder built their advantage back up to 10 causing Laker coach Mike D’Antoni to call a time out. The remaining two and a half minutes went back and forth with the Thunder emerging in front by the score of 97-89. L.A. did win the quarter 34-26, but that would be all they would win on this Tuesday night.

 

Los Angeles came within 5 points of the Thunder lead midway through the 4th quarter but that is as close as they would get. The Thunder closed out the game even better than they had in the first half, this time with a 12-0 run. The streak included a 3 pointer by Ibaka and a 2 handed slam dunk by Westbrook to put an exclamation point on the 122-105 triumph.

 

The Thunder (44-16) trail the Spurs by just 2.5 games (2 in the “L” column) for the Western Conference top spot. They set a NBA record against the Lakers committing just 2 turnovers the entire contest. The Thunder has performed exceptionally well at home, making that overall number one seed very important to their playoff hopes. Kevin Durant received his 13th technical foul this season meaning 3 more will result in an automatic suspension. He must learn to control his temper given his importance to this team in the tight race to number one in the West. Next up for the Thunder is Thursday night against the N.Y. Knicks, one of the better teams in the East this year.

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Mid-Season Review

The Oklahoma City Thunder have played 46 games of the 2012-13 NBA season. They have 35 contests remaining in an attempt to repeat as the Western Conference Champion. In last years strike shortened campaign it took just 66 games of the regular schedule before their postseason run. At this point, it appears they are again well positioned to realize their goal. The Thunder are 35-11, good for the second best record in the NBA. What is not so good is the San Antonio Spurs (37-11) possess the top spot in the league, placing the Thunder in second place in the West too. The Thunder trail the Spurs by just 1 game. That said, they are ahead of the third place L.A. Clippers by only 1.5. With the possible exception of the Miami Heat, the talent level in the Western Conference compared to the East is monumental. The Thunder “own” the Northwest Division with a 6.5 game advantage over the 2nd place Denver Nuggets.

Even before the season began, many felt the Thunder erred when they traded perennial sixth man of the year award winner, James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Thus far this year however, guard Kevin Martin has fit in quite well with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Harden’s stead. Besides Martin and Jeremy Lamb, the Thunder acquired 2 future first round picks and another second rounder in the deal. Game number 1 of the 2012-13 schedule just happened to be against the San Antonio Spurs in the Alamo City. As I’m sure you all will remember, the Thunder eliminated this same group in last years conference finals, by beating them 4 consecutive times following losing the first 2 in this same building. This time the Spurs extracted some revenge, albeit just barely, with an 86-84 opening night victory. After returning home the following night they beat Portland 106-92 in Chesapeake Energy Arena. Then the Thunder dropped another one at home to Atlanta and the sky was falling. Thunder fans saw a suddenly Harden-less team sitting at 1-2 after their first 3 games. The Sun, in fact, rose the next morning and with it the Thunder began their own rising. They reeled off 5 wins in a row and went 8-2 in the next 10. They finished the seasons first month at 13-4. The month of December was even better. They started the month continuing a 4 game win streak that began in November and it grew to 12 consecutive triumphs through December 19th. Decembers record was 11-2. The only disappointment came in South Beach where they dropped the second of two losses in a row to the Miami Heat. Many observers are looking at the strong possibility of the Heat and Thunder once again playing for the NBA title. Should the season end today, the Thunder would be looking at a first round playoff match up against the Utah Jazz. By the way one of those 12 wins in a row came against the Spurs 107-93 on Dec. 17. Serge Ibaka was the game high scorer with 25 points while also dominating the boards with 17 rebounds. January found another strong team effort with the Thunder registering 11 “W’s” including Thursdays win against Memphis 106-89, while suffering just 5 losses.

February’s schedule gets under way with a game in Cleveland on Saturday night and then 3 back in OKC next week. Undoubtedly, the Western Conference will be a “dog fight” right up until the seasons end. There is no reason to believe this team cannot reach the NBA Finals as they did last year, even minus Harden. Kendrick Perkins needs to stay healthy and I’d like to see Durant and Westbrook share the ball more frequently to keep their teammates in the game. There is no room for faulting their overall scoring, as they currently rank 1st in the entire NBA with 106 ppg.

Thunder vs Wizards – Last Minute Shot Stuns OKC

The Thunder departed America’s heartland on Monday and traveled to our nations Capital to face the Washington Wizards. The Wizards were short handed coming into this one, with a plethora of injuries to several player’s including their top 2 scorers. As a matter of fact, only 9 player’s were available to even suit up for them in this one. However, that did not stop them from shocking the Thunder 101-99, when Washington’s Bradley Beal hit the game winner with just 0.3 seconds remaining in the game.

The contest began erratically for the Thunder, when Kevin Durants first pass attempt of the night resulted in a turnover with less than a minute gone off the clock. Durant followed the miscue by making the games first basket. Serge Ibaka made it 4-0 before the Wizard’s Beal made a trey bringing the score to 4-3. Thabo Sefolosha matched the 3 pointer on the Thunders next possession, but Washington came back to lead 30-20 after one quarter. The second quarter was by far the Thunders best of the night, outscoring the Wizards 33-21 and taking a 53-51 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Midway through the 3rd quarter the Thunder inexplicably went “stone cold” missing 16 straight shots from that point to the halfway mark of quarter number 4. They made just 5 free throws from the 6:13 mark of the 3rd quarter to it’s end and trailed 76-73 entering the final session.

The scoring drought ended when Russell Westbrook hit a jumper with 7:33 remaining, setting up the wild finish. With just over 2 minutes left on the game clock, Durant slammed home 2 to cut Washington’s lead to 95-94. The Wizards countered with a 4 point play by Martell Webster making the deficit 99-94. On their next two possessions, Ibaka made a 2 and Durant a 3 to tie the game at 99 with just over a half minute to play. An offensive rebound allowed Washington to hold onto the ball the rest of the way setting up Beal’s heroic 16 foot jumper and the win.

The Thunder may have to spend more time on their shooting drills before facing the T-Wolves back in OKC on Wednesday night. They shot just 43 percent from the field and 24 percent from beyond the arc versus the Wizards.

Thunder vs. Spurs – OKC Continues To Dominate

In what may very well turn out to be a repeat preview of last years NBA Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs departed the Lone Star State to do battle with the Thunder in Oklahoma City. This was the first meeting between the teams at Chesapeake Energy Arena since the Thunder came back from being down 2-0 by winning 4 straight to claim the 2011-12 Western Conference crown. The Spurs had already begun to avenge those losses by taking the season opener from the Thunder 86-84 in the Alamo City. This time it was all Thunder as they led throughout and claimed a 107-93 victory.

The Thunder’s big 3 of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka took control from the start, scoring a combined 20 of the teams 30 first quarter points. The Thunder led after the first frame 30-26. Kevin Martin joined the trio late in the first quarter scoring 7 points including a 3 pointer and then continued on into the 2nd with 5 of the first 7 scored in that quarter. Once again, Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka provided most of the points and the half ended with the Thunder ahead 53-48.

The highlight of the third quarter was an 11-0 Thunder run that for all intent and purposes sealed the win. They led 82-64 heading for the games final quarter. The Spurs never got closer than 9 after that with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker watching from the bench for the second half of the fourth quarter. Manu Ginobili missed this one due to another injury.

Ibaka led all scorers with a career high 25 points. He also had a season best 17 rebounds in this one. Westbrook had 22 and Durant 19. New sixth man of the year candidate Martin contributed 20 off the bench.<

Obviously all is well with the Thunder after reeling off 11 consecutive victories as they head to Atlanta. They currently own the NBA’s best record at 20-4.

Thunder vs. Clippers, Celtics, 76ers, Bobcats Game Reviews

The OKC Thunder entered last weeks action on a roll. They had won their last 2 straight and stood with an overall seasonal mark of 9-3. Included in that record was a 5 game winning streak from November 6th through the 12th. They dropped this years opener on the road versus San Antonio by 2 points. Since then their only 2 defeats were at the hands of Atlanta and Memphis, both of them suffered in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The past week began with a much anticipated match up between the Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers on Thanksgiving Eve. When it was over the home cooked turkey must have tasted that much better after they came away with a 117-111 OT victory. Russell Westbrook scored first off a feed from Kevin Durant. His 24 foot 3 pointer made it 3-2, 1:20 into the contest. Serge Ibaka hit a couple of jumpers before Kevin Durant made 1 of 2 free throws. Durant was on the board with 1 point, but that was just the start of things to come. The 1st quarter ended 28-22 in the Thunders favor with the help of two Thabo Sefolosha treys. The 2nd quarter was basically the Kevin Martin show as he scored 13 of the teams 31 points in the session and the Thunder had a nice 59-49 lead at the half. The 3rd quarter was uneventful and low scoring, ending with the Thunder still ahead 76-69. The Clippers made up those 7 points in the 4th quarter, finally tying the score at 102 with 36 seconds remaining. Westbrook was unable to finish a final drive to the basket and it was on to the extra session. The overtime period was the “Kevin and Russell” show as Durant and Westbrook scored all 15 of the Thunders points. Durant finished the night with 35.

The Thunder flew to Boston on Friday and perhaps they ate too much turkey as they fell to the Celtics 108-100. They held a 7 point lead after the 1st quarter with Westbrook hitting a pair of 25 foot, 3 pointers on either side of a driving lay-up in the final minute and a half of the first twelve. The lead was quickly erased in the 2nd with Boston outscoring them 27-17 and gaining a 48-45 lead at the half. The 3rd quarter belonged to Boston with Paul Pierce scoring the first 7 Celtic points and Jeff Green finishing the frame with their last 7. The Thunder trailed 77-65 entering quarter 4. Pierce scored another 15 in the final frame. The Thunder outscored the Celtics 35-31 in the last quarter but still lost it by 8 after Durant missed a 3 pointer which would have tied it with under 2 minutes remaining.

On Saturday night in the City of Brotherly Love it took overtime again for the Thunder to emerge victorious 116-109. The game started well for the Thunder leading for the entire first half by sometimes as many as 10 points. But the Sixers came storming back to get within 1 point at the half 50-49. The Thunder extended the lead in the 3rd quarter to 85-79 accentuated with a monster dunk by Durant to end it. The Thunder could not “buy” a basket at the end of the game going 0-7 as time expired with the score 98 all. The OT was quite different however, with 4 Thunder players all hitting 3 pointers and eventually coming out on top 116-109.

This 4 game span ended on Monday with Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats coming to visit. Charlotte had already matched their entire win total from last years strike shortened season with 7. However, they were no match for the Thunder, who handily beat them 114-69. There is not much to be said in a 45 point blowout such as this. The Thunder outscored them in every quarter but the last (a 28-28 tie) when they were probably too worn out from all the previous baskets. The Thunder led by 40 at halftime. The Thunder starters headed for the bench after less than 5 minutes had gone by in the 2nd half.

The Thunder are now 11-4 and lead the Utah Jazz (8-7) by 3 games in the West Conference Northwest Division. With the overtime performance in Philly and the “practice” session against Charlotte, they should be well prepared for the homecoming of James Harden when the Houston Rockets visit OKC on Wednesday.

Oklahoma City Thunder Weekly Games Recap

The top of the Western division is slowly becoming better and the Oklahoma City Thunder are right in the middle of everything. The Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Thunder are currently the best teams in the West but these teams are all very different. The Thunder roster is led by Kevin Durant but the recent acquisition of Kevin Martin has helped spread the ball a little more. With Westbrook still running the point and Kevin Durant as the leader of the team, it is safe to say that the Thunder will have a spot in the Playoffs again this year but it will be a real battle for them to make it to the Finals again.

Detroit vs. Thunder – Thunder Wins 92-90

The Thunder started off the week with a very close game in Detroit and it was quite the thriller. Though the Pistons have been struggling, they were able to hold on until the end but Westbrook and company just was too much. The speedy point guard was able to score 33 points and grab 10 rebounds in a very competitive game. This win helped propel the Thunder to a 6-2 record and they got one day of rest before facing the Grizzlies.

Grizzlies vs. Thunder – Grizzlies Win 107-97

This was a great battle in Oklahoma City as two of the best teams in the West faced off in what can potentially be a Western Conference Finals match up. Durant had an amazing 34 points while Westbrook dished out 13 assists. However, the Grizzlies proved to be too much as the Mike Conley and Marc Gasol duo proved to be unstoppable. This lost dropped the team’s record to 6-3 and then flew out to New Orleans.

Hornets vs. Thunder – Thunder Win 110-95

The Thunder squad made their way to New Orleans and it turned out to be a great game for newly acquired Kevin Martin. Martin was able to score 27 points while Westbrook had 12 assists. This was a very good collective effort by the Thunder and they were able to rout the Hornets.

Warriors vs. Thunder – Thunder Win 119-109

After a day of rest, the Oklahoma City Thunder then hosted the Golden State Warriors. The young Warriors team has a lot of pieces that can prove to be troubling for the Thunder but they were able to handle the team quite well. Kevin Durant exploded for his very first triple-double in the NBA and Westbrook had 30 points to add. This unstoppable duo did exactly what they needed to do and the Thunder came out on top.

The Thunder are currently 8-3 and they are leading the Northwest division. For this team to stand out in the West, they must make sure that losing James Harden was not a mistake and that Kevin Martin is indeed am important piece of the puzzle. The Thunder continue to be one of the most entertaining teams in the league and they will be for years to come. Whether or not they will win a championship anytime soon will depend on the young duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Early Season Report

The Thunder made headlines even before the 2012-13 schedule got underway, by trading perennial sixth man of the year, James Harden to the Houston Rockets on the weekend preceding the season openers. While they received a nice piece in return, acquiring shooting guard Kevin Martin, the move appears to be as much about money and the future as opposed to how it may affect this years prospects.

So it was, that these Harden-less Thunder started things off against San Antonio in the Lone Star State on November 1st. This was a rematch between the two teams that competed for the Western Conference title last year. As you may recall, the Thunder reeled off 4 straight victories after dropping the first 2 in advancing to the NBA Finals. This one had all the excitement of the playoffs, as Tony Parker hit a 21 foot jumper with time expiring giving the Spurs an 86-84 victory. Kevin Durant had 23 points to lead all scorers and became the 2nd youngest NBA hoopster to reach 10,000 career points. The first was a guy named LeBron. Returning home for the next 3 contests, the Thunder righted the ship and emerged victorious 106-92 vs. the Trailblazers. This time it was Durants “partner in crime”, Russell Westbrook who reeled off 32. Next up at Chesapeake Energy Arena were the Atlanta Hawks. Kevin Martin did his best James Harden impression by leading the team with 28 points off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 104-95 loss, leaving the Thunder at 1-2 after 3 games. Then things turned around in dramatic fashion. The last contest of the 3 game home stand found the Thunder topping the Toronto Raptors 108-88. Success continued, as they traveled to the Windy City and beat the Chicago Bulls 97-91 with a strong finish by Durant. Two more games at home resulted in two more wins versus the Detroit Pistons(105-94) and the Cleveland Cavaliers(106-91). Durant and Serge Ibaka had 25 points apiece against the Men from Motown and Russell Westbrook had 27 to Durants 26 in the win against the Cavs. The first 8 game segment of 2012 ended on Monday as the nation celebrated its veterans and the Thunder celebrated with a triumph over the Pistons 92-90. This time in the Motor City. Westbrook had a season best 33 points to bring the Thunder to a 6-2 record on the year.

Even with the departure of Harden, it appears Kevin Martin will be more than serviceable as the new sixth man. Center, Kendrick Perkins must remain healthy and step his game up a notch to go with the post play of Ibaka, backed up by Nick Collison, if the Thunder are to return to the NBA Finals. And, of course, Westbrooks perimeter shooting and Durants overall fantastic game must continue as he seeks his fourth straight scoring title. He is young enough to perhaps match a former NBA star with the initials “MJ” who won ten during his illustrious career.

On Wednesday, the Thunder bring their 5 game winning streak into the “Energy Arena” to face a Memphis Grizzlies team that has 5 consecutive victories of their own. Memphis just beat the World Champion Heat convincingly, 104-86 on Sunday. The Thunder were 3-1 vs. Memphis in 2011 and are 4-1 thus far in OKC this season.