Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

October 30, 2013

Durant still confident OKC among NBA’s best teams

(Continued)

Five things to watch as Oklahoma City tries to overcome Westbrook’s injury and return to the NBA Finals:

Veteran Durant

Durant, who had his string of three straight scoring titles snapped last season by New York’s Carmelo Anthony, turned 25 last month but is already entering his seventh NBA season. The forward focused heavily on efficiency last season, raising his shooting percentage to a career-best 51 percent from the field. Durant said to expect improvement in all categories this season. “I’ve been through every situation,” he said. “I’m ready to take it head on and embrace everything.”

Replacing Martin

Martin proved to be a valuable sixth man last season following the Harden trade, averaging 14 points in 77 games off the bench. However, much like Durant, Martin’s shooting percentage fell in the postseason — from 45 to 38 percent. Oklahoma City is counting on several familiar faces to replace Martin’s offense this season, including guards Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb. Jackson, in particular, surged in the playoffs last season, averaging 13.9 points after scoring just 5.3 during the regular season.

Staff changes

Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks enters his sixth season with the Thunder, compiling a 234-147 record during that time. Brooks hired assistant coaches Robert Pack and Mike Terpstra during the offseason after Maurice Cheeks left to become the coach in Detroit. Despite the changes, Brooks expects little to change with how Oklahoma City prepares — especially as it tries to regain its status among the NBA’s elite. “We’re not an excuse organization,” Brooks said. “We don’t make excuses.”

On the rise

Oklahoma City was considered a team on the rise entering last season following its loss to Miami in the NBA Finals. Durant, in particular, isn’t ready to let go of that moniker just yet — and he’s hardly ready to listen to those who might think the Thunder have plateaued. “We feel we’re in a good position,” Durant said. “That’s all that really matters. If we come in here thinking we lost momentum or anything like that, that will mess us up. So, we just try to focus on each and every day and we’ll be fine.”

Fisher's return

After joining the Thunder late last season, point guard Derek Fisher decided to stick around, signing a one-year contract. The 39-year-old Fisher, who played in 24 games last season for Oklahoma City, could play a significant role early on this season with Westbrook’s absence.

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Sports
  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Really one true champion?

    I decided to spare the colleagues in front of me – and myself from making a scene – by holding back flipping my table at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas.
    I had become exhausted by the constant use and misrepresentation by the Big 12 with their moniker of “One True Champion.” If they are going to live with the slogan, then they need to abide by that slogan.
    Perhaps its a simple case that they are keeping constant with the poor math of the 10-team Big 12 Conference.

    July 23, 2014

  • Hill expected to be used in multiple facets

    The picture became a little clearer recently of how Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tyreek Hill will be utilized in the Oklahoma State offense.
    And the picture is rather wide.

    July 23, 2014

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