Thunder Wows 'Em In Choctaw
By Randy Renner
You couldn't have asked for a better atmosphere outside at Thunder Alley in Choctaw or inside the Jackets' gym for Sunday's blue-white scrimmage.
Thousands of fans showed up, though many of the realized they wouldn't be able to get inside because of the limited number of seats. They just wanted to be a part of Thunder Basketball.
Those who were able to get inside saw a great show, with plenty of rim rocking dunks and 3-balls from way out beyond the arc.
There were fan matchups to watch, like Russell Westbrook, point guard for the white team, against Reggie Jackson, point guard for the guys in blue.
Kevin Durant and Anthony Morrow went up against each other and so did Andre Roberson and Jeremy Lamb but it seemed to be the Steven Adams-Mitch McGary battle that produced the most fun.
Adams had a couple of highlight dunks but McGary thrilled the crowd by grabbing a rebound, running all the way back up the floor and finishing with the slam.
On the next possession there was McGary again to clean the glass, this time passing to Durant who then gave it back to the big guy for a layin.
"He's learning so quickly, he's one of the best teammates I've ever had already," KD told reporters after the scrimmage. "His encouragement, his energy, his effort, it's great it's what we need for Thunder basketball. He played extremely well and I'm excited to have him."
And so is Thunder head coach Scott Brooks, though he pumped the brakes a little too.
"His motor is always on, I thought he was really active tonight and that's what he has to continue to do. The minutes...I don't know what's gonna happen with him, he still has a lot to learn. But I like what he's done the last week."
Morrow showed off his shooting touch too by nailing several threes. Durant, who spent a lot of time guarding Morrow, was impressed.
"His shooting ability of course is what he does but he can also put the ball on the floor and shoot the mid-range but he's just a tough player and that's what we need around here."
No official stats were kept and the team played just three 10 minute quarters but they also ran through several drills before the scrimmage started.
Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Sebastion Telfair were held out of the scrimmage because of minor sprained ankles. Perry Jones III didn't play either, he was being given a day of rest coming off his summer knee surgery and Kendrick Perkins was also held out as he continues to recover from a strained quad.
Both Durant and Brooks loved the atmosphere inside the Choctaw gym.
"Events like this remind you that we're the community's team and it's fun, our guys love it and they take it seriously, they wanna get better every day and today was no different."
For KD it was his first trip to Choctaw but it may not be his last.
"I loved it, the fans are unbelievable. We're just so blessed to have such great fans who come to watch the games and enjoy watching us play. It's amazing just to see the love that we have here, makes you wanna go out there and play as hard as your can."
The Thunder certainly seemed to do that. Players were diving after loose balls on the floor, Jackson even crashed hard to the court in the second half and grabbed his back but he was quickly back up.
It's clear these guys know there are positions up for grabs and minutes to be fought for and just because the atmosphere surrounding the scrimmage was a lot more exciting than what it usually is on the practice floor at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center it doesn't mean the work is any less important.
That work continues on Monday and Tuesday then the Thunder will fly to Denver for the team's first preseason game Wednesday night against the Nuggets.