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The Shootaround

Too many close calls for the Spurs. The Hornets-Thunder deal was a blowout for OKC. The Celts are unbeatable when Perk shows up. Play the morning line at the TrueHoop Network:

Tim DuncanGraydon Gordian of 48 Minutes of Hell: "'For every close call against a powerhouse there is an equally close call against a team we should have cruised past. It has required overtime periods to take down Minnesota, Memphis, and Golden State. This was only our third loss of two points or less, but two of those three losses came against teams that won't see the postseason (Milwaukee and Toronto). If we continue to let teams hang around we should expect a couple more before the season ends.'

Six days ago I sat down after our loss to Toronto and wrote that paragraph. Suffice it to say, my thoughts on the matter still stand. Tonight's 112-107 overtime loss to the New York Knicks brings the Spurs to 3-3 on our annual rodeo road trip with games against Detroit and Washington still to come.

The story of this game is our failure on the defensive end. Down the stretch the Knicks (in particular Nate Robinson) were able to score at will. And by at will I don't mean they were just draining their jumpers; the Knicks were consistently getting to the rim and drawing contact on their way (although several of the foul calls against us late in the 4th were downright absurd). D'Antoni easily manipulated predictable switches in pick-and-roll situations, setting up Robinson at the top of the key against players he is much quicker than. This is an unavoidable outcome of the high pick-and-roll if you don't want to get beat by the cutter. But when Robinson would drive the help defender continually failed to shift into the lane and force the pull-up jumper or the pass back to the perimeter."

Kevin Durant

Royce Young of Daily Thunder: "Everybody could feel it today. The Thunder were the talk of the town today with the big Tyson Chandler deal. Everybody was buzzing about the Hornets in town with a new mascot to be unveiled. The Thunder had everyone's attention in this state. The phone lines on the Sports Animal were full all day. But not to talk about Blake Griffin or OU football. Nope. People wanted to talk about Kevin Durant and Sam Presti.

And tonight, with our first love in town, I saw this as the night we turned the page. We could close the book on the Hometown Hornets and completely open up a new one for the Thunder. I envisioned a back-and-forth game with the Thunder pulling out a tight one in front of a ballistic crowd with our new hero, Kevin Durant leading the charge. It all set up to be the story-book way to officially make this team our own.

And everything was going to plan. The Hornets dominated the first quarter and the Thunder couldn't throw a ball into the ocean. Everyone was groaning and having flashbacks to opening night where OKC got rolled as a crowd that was ready to explode had to sit on its hands.

...But then CP3 did what CP3 does, hitting a shot with a second left and crushing our hearts and souls as the Hornets won 100-98. It was over. The night the Thunder became our own and the Hornets were put to rest ended in disappointment. OKC lost and the dream night didn't happen.

But honestly, as I sit here writing this, I realize it actually has happened. "

Kendrick PerkinsZach Lowe of Celtics Hub: "The C's haven't lost a game in two seasons in which Perk has taken at least eight shots...I think this may be more than just random statistical noise. First, Perk isn't jacking up shots in garbage time, because he rarely plays garbage time. Second, the 34 games in which he took at least seven shots were against a random cross-section of league teams, from basement-dwellers to the Lakers and Cavs...

Overall, in those 34 games, the C's averaged 103.4 points per game–about three points above their season average last year and 2.3 points above their average this season.

Frankly, this didn't surprise me. Perk is a nifty scorer when he gets the ball deep in the post, where he can back smaller/skinnier guys down and hit that little hook off the glass. He's also become a better jump-shooter this season compared with last, though his hot spot data shows he shouldn't be taking them from too far outside of the paint."

THE FINAL WORD
Queen City Hoops: The 'Cats are getting healthy.
Hornets247: Don't lie to Niall Doherty in email form.
Hardwood Paroxysm: Rob Mahoney eulogizes the Hornets.

(Photos by Nathaniel S. Butler, Layne Murdoch, Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)