KD & Russ Still Not Ruled Out For Friday

By Randy Renner

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters neither Kevin Durant nor Russell Westbrook would play in Wednesday's game against Utah but he didn't go quite that far when it came to Friday's game with New York.

"They will be re-evaluated later in the week and we will be able to make that decision (playing on Friday) from there, but until then we're just focused on the guys we know are playing (against Utah).

Brooks said both players' medical re-evaluations are still on the original schedule which is believed to be Durant on Thursday and Westbrook on Saturday. IF that is the case it would seem extremely unlikely Westbrook would play Friday against the Knicks before being fully re-evaluated by the medical staff.

But the Thunder keeps the details of these sorts of things pretty close to the vest and Brooks wouldn't venture very far down that road however, "I will say this, Kevin and Russell have been participating in some of practice and they look good and they are continuing to progress in the direction we need them too," Brooks said.

Then he got to the bottom line.

"Whenever they get cleared and feel like they can compete in an NBA game, they will play. It's obviously in the near future but it won't be tomorrow."

And like I wrote this morning, it probably won't be Friday either. After practice Westbrook again had his right hand inside a sleeve receiving some sort of treatment.

Both Durant and Westbrook said early in this process that they wouldn't rush back too soon but you figure they're getting a bit antsy given the Thunder's 3-12 record and just the mere fact they haven't been able to play ball in several weeks.

Another guy who's getting closer and closer to getting back to playing status is rookie forward Mitch McGary. When reporters walked into the practice gym McGary was banging around with the other bigs working non post-up moves and drives to the basket. He finished several with dunks and was moving around really good.

"He's progressing well also," Brooks admitted. "He participated in some of practice but it's the same thing with him, don't know exactly when he will be back but sometime in the near future and we will re-evaluate him later in the week."

Sounds like the Thunder medical staff will have a very busy Thanksgiving and with any luck, Thunder fans will have a few more things to be thankful for.

Don't Count On Either Russ Or KD Playing Friday

By Randy Renner

I hate to be little Debbie Downer here but you might wanna pump the brakes a little on all this Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing Friday talk.

Yes one or the other of them (Westbrook would seem a little more likely since he's dealing with a finger not a foot issue) could play Friday I guess, but only if 100 percent ready and able.

All this Friday talk started mostly because Friday is the first day they would be allowed to play under the NBA's hardship rule. That day doesn't have anything to do with their medical situations.

The second 10-day contract of Ish Smith, who was brought in to shore up the Thunder numbers after so many injuries, expires on Thanksgiving Day. After that the Thunder could, under the rules, bring back any of their long-term injured players. Durant, Westbrook, Mitch McGary or Grant Jerrett would be eligible to return but again that doesn't mean any of them would be medically cleared to play and physically able to play.

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks wouldn't play the speculation game when he was asked if Friday might be too early to bring Westbrook back.

“I don’t know,” Brooks said. “I just focus on his work that he put in (Monday) and just continue to build off that. He will get evaluated later on this week and then we can make some of those decisions later on.”

Brooks said both Westbrook and Durant participated in most of Monday's practice, including some of the contact drills.

“They looked good,” Brooks said. “But no more than that. They’re going to continue to go through this process, and when they’re ready, 100 percent ready, they will play. But until then, nothing else we know of.”

When reporters were allowed out onto the practice gym floor Durant had already gone back into the locker area but Westbrook was sitting in a chair on the sideline with his right hand inside special sleeve, apparently receiving some sort of treatment.

Both players have steadily increased their workload at practices and have been seen shooting jumpers over the last week or so.

McGary has been out on the floor working a lot too and it's believed he also is very close to returning to action. Perry Jones, however doesn't appear to be anywhere close to getting back out on the floor after what's been described as a bruised knee suffered about three weeks ago.

“I have no injury update on Perry,” Brooks said. “He hasn’t participated in any parts of practice. He’s just with our medical staff. Just a normal rehab process for his knee. That’s the only thing I know of right now.”

The Thunder will practice today and perhaps Brooks will be able to shed more light on the status of his superstars but until those medical re-evaluations are completed sometime this week even he won't know how much longer his team will have to play shorthanded.

 

Thunder Can't Close Warriors Out

By Randy Renner

To paraphrase what Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said to start his postgame news conference, could you guys just read the last few game stories so I can go on home and pop a top?

Okay, for those of you still with me I will tell you this game against the Warriors was much like most of the others in this 3-12 start to the season.  So much so that Brooks began his postgame news conference by saying, "can we just play the last four news conferences over so I don't have to do this again?"

Sorry coach, if I have to write, you have to talk. 

"I thought we did a great job of competing and playing a style that gave us a chance to win, physical, tough, gritty determination, all the important winning words you can use. Unfortunately we came up short, we missed a couple of shots."

Once again great defense played by a bunch of guys who can't seem to shoot straight.  

The Thunder held Golden State to their fewest points of the season and their worst shooting percentage of the season and still managed to lose 91-86. 

The Warriors hadn't scored less than 95 points, nor shot less than 44.0 percent until Sunday night when they scored those 91 points on 35.5 percent shooting. They hadn't won a game in Oklahoma City either since December of 2008 until Sunday night. 

That 2008-09 season is also the last time the Thunder started a season this badly. 

The thing is, this Thunder team, this patched together bunch of backups and backups to backups, has played its collective butt off in every game except that debacle in Brooklyn earlier in the month. 

Yes they're 3-12 and solidly in last place in the Western Conference but they've had a second half lead in 13 of those 15 games and are playing defense at an elite level.

The offense though...oh the offense. 

This game came right down to the last seconds but consecutive air ball threes from Andre Roberson and Lance Thomas ended their hopes. 

So why were two guys in there at the end who aren't exactly known for their shooting?

"Thomas was on the floor for inbounds passes, the guys who usually do that aren't available and he's been good at that and with Golden State switching up everything (on defense) we wanted Dre out there for his offensive rebounding. The ball found him and he stepped up and took the shot." 

The Warriors had left Roberson unguarded so they could harass Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow and the strategy worked. Jackson drove and dished to Roberson who was wide open out beyond the arc. Roberson missed his open look look and finished the night 1-for-4.

Jackson ended the game with 22 points but it took him 26 shots to get there. He grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out eight assists so he just missed a triple-double. Morrow came off the bench to score 16 on 5-for-11 shooting and Serge Ibaka also had 16, but Serge struggled shooting too, making just five of his 17 shots.

Overall the Thunder held the Warriors to 35.5 percent shooting but OKC managed to shoot only a tenth of a point better at 35.6 percent.  

The Thunder held the "Splash Brothers" to reasonable numbers, 20 points for Klay Thompson on 6-for-20 shooting and Steph Curry had 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting. 

The guy who killed them was Marreese Speights, who dropped a season-high 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting.

"Mo Speights was ridiculous, he carried the load for us offensively tonight," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.  

The Thunder had hoped to keep their heads above water while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook healed up from surgeries and their defense is good enough this team could be right around .500 if just a handful more shots had fallen. 

Now though, with the reality of 3-12 staring back at him Brooks admitted Sunday night he's started to think about just how deep a hole the Thunder can dig themselves out of when KD and Russ return. 

50 wins is usually what it takes to make the Western Conference playoffs, once in a while 47 or 48 might do it. To get to 50 the Thunder will have to go 47-20 the rest of the way and we still don't know for sure how many more games Durant and Westbrook will miss, plus when they do return it's doubtful they will play every game the rest of the way. 

So the margin for error is starting to get really skinny. 

Brooks, always the optimist, looks at it this way, "it sets us up for a heck of a ride, an amazing regular season run." 

A run that better start pretty soon. 

Brooks Knows Thunder Will Have Their Hands Full Tonight

By Randy Renner

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Defense has been the best part of the Thunder so far this season with superstar scorers sidelined and tonight the defense will have to be outstanding.

The Golden State Warriors are in town with the "Splash Brothers." Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are off to great starts. Curry is averaging 28.3 points on 48.4 percent shooting overall and 39.3 percent from three. Thompson is right behind at 22.6 points on 47.1 percent shooting overall and 44.6 percent from deep. The Warriors as a team are shooting  49.9 percent (1st in the NBA).

Thunder guards Reggie Jackson will be on Curry to start the game and Andre Roberson gets Thompson.

"We're gonna have to do a great job on defense against one of the best and deepest teams in the NBA," Thunder coach Scott Brook said a few minutes ago.

The Warriors have own four straight and haven't scored less than 100 points in five straight games.

Golden State is 9-2 coming in and is off to the franchise's best start since the 1972-73 season.

Offense isn't the only thing the Warriors have going their way this season. Unlike in past years when defense has been a problem, it's been a strength this season. The Warriors are holding opponents to just 41.5 percent shooting (2nd in the NBA).

"We're gonna have to have a good offensive game too," Brooks admitted. Those have been hard to come by for OKC. The Thunder are 2nd to last in scoring, averaging 88.9 points and 3rd from last in shooting (42.1 percent).

Brooks said "we're gonna have to do everything within our power to score points tonight," but the Thunder remain limited. Perry Jones, who's averaging more than 15 points a game is still out with that problematic bruised knee and of course Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook remain sidelined.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn't surprised the Thunder have still managed to remain competitive in almost every game they've played. "They compete every night because that's the culture they've developed here over the years. Every game has been close because they play hard all the way through."

That will have to be the case again tonight, not only to stay competitive but to keep from being blown out.

As usual, our entire InsideThunder.com crew is here at The Peake and we'll have full post game video coverage with comments from Coach Brooks and from players inside the locker room. If you can't watch the game check out our feed page for comments on Twitter from reporters at the game.

It's Déjà Vu All Over Again For Thunder

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By Randy Renner

The Thunder are producing an ugly sequel to the hit Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day" with Reggie Jackson in the starring role.

Our star keeps living the same day over and over again.

Jackson and his Thunder teammates again played great in the beginning, swooned in the second half, rallied late to get the game enticingly close and Reggie takes the shot that would win the game if only it would splash instead of clang.

Nets 94, Thunder 92.

Brooklyn snaps a five game losing streak, Oklahoma City extends a four game skid to five, the longest losing streak the franchise has had since the 2008-09 season.

Jackson sat at his locker with his head in his hands and ice wraps on both knees and his right ankle.

He stared into space, more than likely replaying those final shots of the last few games in his head.

The shame if it all is that Reggie had a pretty solid game overall, 21 points, eight assists. The problem came in the fourth quarter, nine points, but no assists. The ball stopped moving at critical times. 

The Thunder shot just 27.3 percent in the fourth quarter and handed out exactly one more assist as a team, than a dead man would and that killed their chances.

Head coach Scott Brooks continued to talk about how close this team is to winning games and he's right.

They are achingly close. They play hard, they show a lot of grit, they fight till the end but they just don't have enough to win. They get right there and can't close it out.

"I didn't like the outcome," Brooks said after the game, "but throughout this season we have demonstrated that we are more than capable of winning games. A couple of breaks go our way, a couple of shots drop and the game could have easily gone our way."

But it didn't and just as this horror show of an early season has shown, sometimes being close can be far more cruel than being far away. 

The Thunder now sit at 3-11 and in last place in the Western Conference. They could probably just as easily be 8-6 or 7-7 if they could catch a break or find some sort of way to get over the hump and close a game out.

Right now they're all searching for answers but not finding any. We asked Jeremy Lamb about that. What will it take to turn the corner and start winning some games?

He just stared at the locker room floor and said so quietly you could barely hear, "I have no idea."