Brett Dawson on the Thunder traveling to Mexico City to face the Nets tonight: “A game against the Nets in Mexico City will be the franchise’s first in the regular season outside the United States and Canada. “It’s pretty cool doing it during season,” Roberson said Wednesday. “It’s going to be a little bit different for us, getting away from the routine of things and going to a different place that’s not familiar, which I think is going to be pretty special.” The Thunder is a name brand beyond Oklahoma City.”
Carlos Rodriguez (AP) on Russell Westbrook and Mexico City’s altitude: “The NBA MVP and the Thunder arrived on Wednesday night South of the Border to face the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA’s 25th game in Mexico more concerned about dinner than the altitude. “I don’t know nothing about the altitude, to be honest, I just play,” Westbrook said at the team’s hotel in an upscale part of town. “If you are in shape then you are in shape and if you are not then you are not.” Sitting at 7,350 feet above sea level, Mexico’s capital is at a far higher elevation than Denver — the NBA’s highest venue at 5,280 feet.”
Nick Gallo previews Thunder “at” Nets: “Because of the Nets’ proficiency from the three-point line, the Thunder has to adopt the same mentality that helped it recover from a 17-point second half deficit on Tuesday against the Utah Jazz. The group stuck together, didn’t quit and fought its way back with a 32-14 fourth quarter to produce a 100-94 victory. Earlier in the season, the Thunder may not have won such a game, but the challenging circumstances it has faced so far this season have built up some resolve and will power to push through setbacks in games. “I don’t think you can get any better at all at anything in life without adverse situations,” Donovan opined. “Sometimes people expect or think things should be easier than they are. When you’re in the most competitive basketball league in the world, nothing is ever easy.”
Ben Rohrback (Yahoo Sports) on Steven Adams finally feasting in OKC: “The space created by three All-Stars presents easier opportunities, which in turn has led to career-highs for Adams in scoring (13.5 points per game) and efficiency (67 percent true shooting). This seems like an obvious benefit that everyone on the Thunder should have realized from the jump, but maybe it’s taken the three stars a few weeks to understand their effect on Adams. However they came to this realization, it’s been a revelation. Without George and Anthony on the roster last season, Adams was still getting about two-thirds of his shots with the nearest defender at least two feet away from him and converting them at a 60 percent clip, according to NBA.com/stats, which is a testament to Westbrook’s greatness. With PG13 and Melo, though, he’s now getting roughly three-quarters of his shots away from tight coverage and shooting 70 percent on those attempts.”
Sam Amick (USA Today) on the Thunder finally being clutch: “Playing better when it matters most tends to help, too, and this latest stretch has been a major improvement for the Thunder during “clutch time” (defined as the last five minutes of a game in which the teams are separated by five points or less). Through 20 games: Oklahoma City was 1-9 in “clutch” games, with a net rating of minus-42.2, ranked 28th. During this three-game winning streak that has included “clutch” time in each game: The Thunder have a net rating of plus-40.2 during that same span.”
Yaron Weitzman (SLAM Magazine) on the importance of role players: “Adams, though, is more than just involved. He’s essential to everything his Thunder do. Playing center is one of the most difficult positions to occupy in today’s up-tempo, space-and-pace League, and Adams deftly shuttles between old-school brute and new-school dancer as well as any big man in the NBA. He deploys his 7-foot, 235-pound frame as a weapon for laying screens and on the offensive glass, two areas where he is among the best in the league. He’ll bang with a bruiser one possession, then glide with a guard on another—and never complain about a lack of post-up looks.”
Marc Hinton (Stuff/New Zealand) on how Steven Adams is justifying the Thunder’s big investment: “A few eyebrows were raised a year or so ago when the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to offer Steven Adams a mammoth US$100 million (NZ$145m) four-year contract extension. That was awful big money, mumbled the sceptics, to pay for an offensively limited out-and-out centre as a time when the traditional big man’s role in the NBA game was becoming more and more blurred. It is fair to say those ‘brows are a lot more horizontal right now, with the 24-year-old Kiwi well and truly delivering on the investment his team made in his first post-rookie contract, not to mention striking a blow for seven-foot paint dwellers everywhere.”
New Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood podcast: Discussing the Thunder win streak and more with Matt Craig of Daily Thunder/The Athletic.
Around the League: The Cavs won their 13th straight game last night…. Isaiah Thomas has participated in 4-on-4 drills this week…. Phoenix has converted the two-way contract of 27-year-old rookie Mike James…. Victor Oladipo’s heroics helped the Pacers beat the Bulls…. DeMarcus Cousins dropped a cool 40 & 22 against the Nuggets…. Steve Kerr says the Steph Curry injury is good for the Warriors.