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News » Thunder are making plenty of noise

Thunder are making plenty of noise

Thunder are making plenty of noise The NBA's Northwest Division has been a three-team race the past few years, with Utah, Denver and Portland battling it out for supremacy. But, judging by the first four weeks of this season, a fourth team from the division is going to have to be taken seriously by the rest of the league. The Oklahoma City Thunder were winners of just 23 games all of last season, its first after bolting Seattle and dropping the SuperSonics' name. But they made believers out of many Utah fans Tuesday night at EnergySolutions Arena with a 104-94 victory over the Jazz .

The Thunder is now above .500 ? at 8-7 ? despite having already played nine games on the road. After winning only eight road games in 41 tries a season ago, Oklahoma City is now one of just a handful of clubs owning a winning road record this year at 5-4. "We're passing the ball to each other," said Thunder star Kevin Durant. "We are sharing the ball a lot and helping out on defense as well. This is a good road win for us." Durant, who is just 21 despite playing in his third NBA season, led the Thunder with 28 points, eight assists and five rebounds against the Jazz . "Kevin is a special player," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "He understands the game more each year. He's working, he's playing hard and he's humble and coachable. Our assistant coaches do a great job with him." But while Durant is the undisputed leader of the team, he's far from the only young talent for Oklahoma City. Forward Jeff Green, another lottery pick from the 2007 draft, is coming into his own, while second-year point guard Russell Westbrook and rookie combo guard James Harden have plenty of potential as well. "Sam Presti, our general manager, has done a nice job of finding guys who are competitive," said Brooks. "You can have talented guys, but if they aren't competitive, what good are they? Our guys are competitive. They get better. They work hard in practice. It's a fun group to coach because they compete against each other in practice." Fourth-year swingman Thabo Sefolosha gave the Thunder a big lift on Tuesday against the Jazz despite only scoring four points. The 6-7 native of Switzerland spent much of the night pestering Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers. "Deron Williams is a phenomenal player," said Durant. "He is a tough cover on the defensive end and Thabo is one of the best defenders in the league. So we decided to switch off and he did a great job, unbelievable job. It was fun watching him play defense like that." Sefolosha spent most of his first three seasons with the Chicago Bulls before being traded to Oklahoma City before the trade deadline last season. Being a fourth-year NBA player makes him one of the young Thunder's veterans. He knows enough to like what he's seeing. "We are playing great right now," said Sefolosha. "We've got a lot of confidence. Coming into a gym like that and being able to win that game is big for us. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people this year." The Thunder certainly surprised a lot of Jazz fans Tuesday night. e-mail:

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Added: November 26, 2009


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