Kevin Durant and the Thunder Send a Message to the Rest of the NBA; Blake Griffin’s Birthday is Ruined

The Oklahoma City Thunder took a big step forward last night. Kevin Durant & Co. went into Miami and beat a fired up Heat team – and to be honest, didn’t even play all that well offensively in the process. The Thunder traded haymakers with Miami in the first half as each team took turns churning out highlight reel material. Then in the second half, OKC clamped down on defense and completely shut down the Big 3, forcing them into a 4-24 performance in the third and fourth quarters, and propelling the Thunder to a 96-85 win. The whole thing was foreshadowed by Durant as he headed into the locker room at halftime. In his interview with Heather Cox, visibly irritated Durant told her, “The first team that plays defense will win the game.” If they play defense like this and get their offense going at the same time? Unbeatable … We can’t stress how incredible some of the highlights in the first half were last night. Dwyane Wade had an absurd spin into the lane through Serge Ibaka and a two-hander on Kendrick Perkins; LeBron had a baseline, one-handed reverse that was followed by a fast break dunk that prompted Mike Tirico to comment on how many “violent” dunks there were in the half … After Ibaka came up with one of his three blocks on the night, Tirico said, “Let’s just call him Serge I-Blocka.” No Mike, we will not be doing that … Wade was an animal last night. He only had 21 points, but it seemed like he was in attack mode on both ends of the floor all game long. To go with his dunks, he also tracked down Eric Maynor on a break and sent his shot to the frank man’s frank man. The ball literally went further than into the crowd than a lot of those t-shirts that cheer teams shoot into the crowd during breaks in the action … With the game just about over in Miami, the Thunder were set to let the shot clock expire without shooting leaving four seconds on the game clock. KD passed the ball to Westbrook with about nine seconds remaining, but just before the violation Westbrook passed it back so that KD would credited for the turnover. You could see Russ laughing and Kevin just shaking his head … Remember a few weeks ago when everyone was wondering what was wrong with Chris Paul, including Chris Paul? Not to make light of his scary head injury, but it’s like he had something jarred loose. He’s come back like a monster face, averaging 28.7 points and 11.3 dimes since he’s returned. Last night he had 26 and nine as the Hornets beat the Suns 100-95 … Read More: The Nuggets take a shot at Melo, Pyscho T is under control, and Blake gets the Philly business…

How about those Denver Nuggets? Doing nothing but getting Ws and (now) taking veiled shots at Carmelo since the big trade went down. The Nuggs rolled the Hawks 102-87 last night push them to 9-2 and since shipping Melo to New York. They play good defense, they share the ball and the push tempo – especially when they go with Ray Felton and Ty Lawson on the floor at the same time. “It’s fun to play basketball the right way,” Kenyon Martin was quoted as saying after the game. “It always has been, always will be. When everybody’s out there sharing the ball, everybody’s involved, it just makes everyone want to play that much harder on the defensive end.” Apparently several years of standing and watching Melo jab step defenders into submission over and over and over again every night wasn’t fun for Ken … Hey! An NBA team decided to look at game tape/scouting report for Tyler Hansbrough. The Boston Celtics put a stop to the out-of-body experience he’s been having over the last 10 days, where he’s been setting new career highs in scoring seeming every night almost exclusively shooting open jumpers from the top of the key and dunking putbacks. Wasn’t happening for Tyler last night as he could only muster 10 points and the Celts won 92-80 … After a concerning last few games where they could barely put any points on the board, the Celtics needed that win last night, if for nothing other than keeping pace with the Bulls in the East … The Celtics officially honored Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn for the 30 years of announcing Boston games. Lots and lots of people can’t stand Tommy because his homerism crosses well into absurdity on the regular, but you absolutely cannot argue that Mike and Tommy are not one of the best teams in NBA historyDonnie Wahlberg sat in with Tommy and Mike for a few minutes and was actually pretty knowledgeable about his Celtics and the NBA in general. He was telling stories about how he used to hang out practice all the time. So, just because he was in the New Kids on the Block 20+ years ago, he got to hang out at Celtics practices?? … Dwight Howard went Incredible Hulk on a defenseless, Andrew Bogut-less Bucks team in Milwaukee last night. The Bucks took Orlando to overtime, (and lost) but when you let one guy in the middle amass 31 points and 22 rebounds like Dwight did, it’s going to be tough to win … Congrats to our dude C.J. Miles who went off for a career high of 40 points in the Utah’s 119-104 win over the T-Wolves. Miles hit 14 of his 17 shots, including 6-7 from three … Yesterday was Blake Griffin‘s birthday. His gift was a chippy, frustrating loss to the 76ers. On paper, it would seem like a matchup with the Sixers would be a great opportunity for Griffin to run amok and put up some of his cartoon numbers. While Philly usually plays good team defense, they’re short, they don’t rebound well and Blake would most often find himself matched up with Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes or Thad Youngall guys that Blake should destroy. Didn’t happen though. Philly kept him check as a team, played him tough and won 104-94. Thad was charged with a flagrant foul on Griffin the first half, an incident that led to all sorts of sh*t-talking between Blake and the Sixers bench heading into the half … In Golden State, the Mavericks were down 18 in the first quarter, but came storming back and eventually took control of the game on about 40 straight jumpers from Dirk in the fourth quarter to win 112-106 … We’re out like “Serge I-Blocka”