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Brand has surgury
Brand has surgury
Brand has surgury
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December 2009
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→Grade: C-

→Comment: Injuries have limited Collison's effectiveness and held him to his fewest minutes since his rookie season. His points, rebounds and assists are the lowest they've ever been.

James Harden

→Grade: B

→Comment: Customary rookie growing pains were on display, but Harden has quickly found his comfort zone. Harden failed to score at least 10 points in the first 11 games, but scored in double digits in five of the past six games.

Serge Ibaka

→Grade: B+

→Comment: Considering his many obstacles, Ibaka has exceeded expectations in his first month in the NBA. Ibaka has shown steady improvement and has proved to be a reliable rebounder and shot-blocker.

Kevin Ollie

→Grade: B+

→Comment: The 36-year-old veteran did exactly what he was asked to do in a backup role - provide steady play without making mistakes. Ollie has turned the ball over just three times in 207 minutes.

Etan Thomas

→Grade: B-

→Comment: Between bouts with inconsistency, Thomas has beefed up the Thunder's frontcourt and given OKC a solid interior defender off the bench.

D.J. White

→Grade: B-

→Comment: When given the chance, White has shown a steady shooting stroke. He's made 10 of 15 shots, but his rebounding and man-to-man defense have been a little lacking.


→Shaun Livingston, Byron Mullens, Kyle Weaver, Mike Wilks.


Player of the month

Kevin Martin. Ben Gordon. Brandon Roy. Kobe Bryant. Dwyane Wade. Deron Williams.

What do they all have in common?

All were shut down by Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha, the player who's keyed the Thunder's surprising 9-8 start with his defensive tenacity.

The Thunder is winning by buckling down on the defensive end. Oklahoma City is 8-1 when holding opponents to less than 100 points, and it all starts with Sefolosha, who has excelled thus far at the nightly task of defending the opposing team's best player.


Play of the month

James Harden stole a pass from Earl Boykins, saved it from going out of bounds with a behind-the-back pass to Russell Westbrook, raced downcourt and slammed home Westbrook's overhead lob in a win over the Wizards.

Scoring a career-high 25 points, Harden was 4-of-6 beyond the arc, but it was his fast-break dunk that sent the sellout Ford Center crowd into a frenzy.

Harden arguably supplied the two top candidates for Play of the Month, the other a half-court buzzer-beater in a loss at Sacramento.


Looking Ahead to December

Toughest game: Boston, Dec. 4.

Toughest stretch: Dec. 13-23: Cleveland, at Denver, Dallas, Detroit, at Houston, at Lakers, at Phoenix.

Best home game: Cleveland, Dec. 13.

Time to gain ground: Dec. 26-31: Charlotte, at New Jersey, at Washington, Utah.


Biggest win of November

The Thunder posted some statement road wins in November, but none was as impressive as a 101-98 win over the Spurs in San Antonio.

Oklahoma City trailed by nine points in the first half but dominated the third quarter to take the lead and withstood every Spurs run.

Thabo Sefolosha's steal with :14 left sealed the win, but Russell Westbrook was the star.

Westbrook scored 19 points, dished out 11 assists, had zero turnovers and hit the biggest basket, a running scoop shot with 45.8 seconds left.


Player on the rise

One intriguing preseason question was how many games rookie Serge Ibaka might play for the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League.

The answer: maybe none.

Providing energy off the bench, the athletic 6-foot-10 Congo native ranks second among all NBA rookies in blocked shots (1.0 per game) and is seventh among rookies in rebounding (4.2).

A late first-round draft pick in 2008, Ibaka played last season overseas. He's averaging 3.9 points.

In the six games he's played double-digit minutes, Ibaka is averaging 6.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.


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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 4, 2009


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