Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How the West Fell Apart

When we start saying good things about the Clippers, it is definitely time to wonder about the NBA as a whole. Now I'm not saying L.A.'s other team is all bad news, but history goes to show that unless relocation is an option -- the Clippers will always be yesterday's news.

This season started out no different, but the real drama played out over the summer. Elton Brand and Baron Davis were supposed to lead the charge together, but only Davis held up his end of the bargain. Brand jumped ship to the 76ers, and Davis was left to pick up the pieces. Well after a trade and a win streak, those pieces are starting to come together. Oklahoma City was the latest witness to the turnaround, as the Thunder were bullied in a ten-point loss.

Newcomer Zach Randolph showed OKC what an inside force can add to any team, dominating the paint with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Randolph came over in a trade from New York, and he has stepped right into Brand's old post spot. The Thunder did get a surprise when Chris Wilcox came in off the bench, but it wasn't enough to overcome poor shooting and foul trouble.

Kevin Durant did his thing, scoring a game-high 25 points, and Wilcox added 13 in a gutsy effort. Previous reports had the power forward missing up to two weeks with a finger injury, but his heart kept OKC in the game longer than expected. Jeff Green could use some of Wilcox's mental approach, and I will get into detail about that tomorrow. Russell Westbrook has yet to find a shooting touch as a pro, and all-star Davis took advantage of the rookie, causing turnovers galore by the Thunder.

Overall, it was not the type of game needed after an impressive weekend output. OKC remains winless for December, and the upcoming stretch of games will get no easier. I hope Coach Brooks has something up his sleeve because Durant offers something few teams have -- a bonafide star. If the Thunder fail to turn the ship around, plenty of coaches will be happy for a chance to get the job done.

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