When Scott Brooks took over the Thunder, they were 1-12 and headed toward their fourth straight losing season. In his first full season, he guided Oklahoma City to 50 wins. The team steadily rose to championship contention under his watch, peaking with an NBA Finals loss.
Of course, the inevitable ascension of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka had something to do with that.
But the warm feelings of that era will forever be associated with Brooks.
He helped instill a culture with a young roster, effectively implementing his system until the Thunder steadily advanced deep enough the playoffs that Brooks’ simplistic offense became a liability. Essentially, by succeeding, he made his job too advanced for himself.
That can be a tough pill to swallow, but Brooks’ reputation earned him a lucrative contract with the Wizards and a standing ovation in his return to Oklahoma City tonight. (Westbrook ruined the good vibes for Brooks and Washington.)
I expect Durant to get a similarly warm reception when he returns with the Warriors on Feb. 11.
In a fun matchup between the players who finished 1-2 in Rookie of the Year voting last season, award-winner Karl-Anthony Towns (47 points, 18 rebounds, two assists and three blocks) eclipsed Kristaps Porzingis (29 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks).
But Porzingis had help from Carmelo Anthony, whose late jumper gave the Knicks a 106-104 win over the Timberwolves tonight.
Still, this was a special night from Towns. Only Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone have posted a 47-18 game since 1984 (as far as Basketball-Reference.com records go back).
It’ll be a treat to watch Towns in the years to come, especially when he’s battling Porzingis.
Russell Westbrook already had his triple-double, but his 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter gave him a chance to build on his numbers — and get the Thunder a win.
Westbrook scored 14 points in the extra period to help Oklahoma City to a 126-115 win over the Wizards tonight. He finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
This Isaiah Thomas shot didn’t count on the scoreboard, but it counts in my heart.
It’s not ideal when you have to start Dion Waiters.
It’s even worse when you don’t have that option available.
The Miami HEAT announced today that an MRI revealed guard Dion Waiters has suffered a Pectineus tear and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Waiters sat out his first game of the season on Nov. 28 vs. Boston due to the right groin strain.
At some point during the next couple weeks, the Heat will rely more on Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson. But they’re dealing with their own injuries. That puts more of an onus on Rodney McGruder and Wayne Ellington for the time being.
Miami is 5-12, and six of its next seven games are on the road. This might not be pretty.