Author: Kurt Helin

Oklahoma City Thunder v Orlando Magic

Three Things We Learned in NBA Sunday: The Thunder are back to .500 and making their run


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while having a hippo charge your river boat

1) The Oklahoma City Thunder are .500 and coming on fast. Phoenix is not going to roll over — they still have a three game lead over the Thunder and are making moves to add talent to the roster. But the Thunder are coming on — they reached .500 on Sunday with an emphatic win over Orlando. This game was a blowout from the opening tip — OKC opened on a 13-0 run and took off from there. The Thunder led by as many as 38 before winning by 28, 127-99. Kevin Durant had 21 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists and only played 28 minutes. Russell Westbrook did this.

The Thunder are on an Eastern road swing — Miami, Washington, Atlanta and Cleveland — and if they are going to catch a Suns team that has a home-heavy schedule the rest of the way these are the kinds of games the Thunder need to win most of.

2) Alexis Ajinca isn’t Anthony Davis, but he can pretend to be for a day. The Pelicans went into Toronto and sat Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis (that’s two games out in a row for Davis with a toe injury), but nobody noticed because Ajinca came off the bench for 22 points. Okay, that’s not true, Davis was still missed, but Ajinca had a quality game filling in, scoring 10 of those in the decisive fourth quarter when the Pelicans came from behind to beat the Raptors in dramatic fashion.

3) The Toronto Raptors failed at defending a final shot. The game was tied and with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday sidelined it was obvious what the Pelicans would lean on Evans here here… oh, who are we kidding, Evans would have taken this shot even if Davis was on the court, they ignore AD down the stretch anyway. It’s a nice shot by Evans, but watch the Raptors defend this poorly.

First off, if you know Evans is going to take this then why is Greivis Vasquez guarding him? Especially since James Johnson is actually in the game. Everyone knows Evans wants to get to his much preferred right hand, but Vasquez doesn’t really try to force Evans right at all. Why is Jonas Valanciunas so late on his rotation? Why is Amir Johnson chasing Ajinca out to the three point line?

That is just not how one should defend a final shot.

Tyreke Evans hits game winner over four Raptors (VIDEO)

Tyreke Evans

Tyreke Evans forces too many isolation plays at the end of Pelicans games. However, with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday out on Sunday, that play makes sense for a final shot in a tie game, which is what the Pelicans faced against the Raptors in Toronto Sunday.

Everyone in the building knew that the last play was going to be an Evans isolation — that includes the Raptors, who ended up with four guys rotating over to him. Didn’t matter. First Greivis Vasquez was guarding him and he’s not the best defender ever. Second, he lets Evans get back to his much-favored right hand.

The result was the high off the glass game winner. The Raptors had come from behind to lead by double digits at one point, but it didn’t matter when it came down to the final shot.

Andrew Wiggins drops career high 31 on Nuggets in Timberwolves win

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

Andrew Wiggins is proving to be more than a raw athlete — he can shoot the rock. He was drafted No. 1 because of that freakish athleticism, but scouts that liked him would say he was coachable and worked hard, which is why some thought he could develop into something special. He’s proving them right. Fast. He’s scored at least 20 points in 10 of the Timberwolves last 13 games.

And that includes the 31 he dropped to lead Minnesota past Denver Saturday night.

Wiggins can get to the rim and was 4-of-4 there (he has a good post up game), but he was also 4-of-5 from three — in his last 15 games he’s shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc. He could develop into an elite shooter, which with his athleticism could make him very dangerous in a few years.

He’s going to be the Rookie of the Year. And that may be just the start.