At the Ford Center tonight, shooting post game of the OKC Thunder (1-4) and Atlanta Hawks (4-0). Atlanta is one of three teams heading into Sunday’s play without a loss, Utah was also undefeated but fell at Madison Square Garden to Jamal Crawford and the Knicks.
The Hawks feature the smooth, high-scoring Joe Johnson and point guard Mike Bibby.
OKC is coming off a loss at Utah on Friday night. The Thunder gave up 21 straight points in the first quarter en route to a 29 point first half. They did pour in 68 second half points.
UPDATE (6:33 pm): I’m impressed with the Ford Center wifi. I’d heard others say it was spotty, but it’s fast and responsive tonight.
UPDATE (6:35 pm): OKC is off to a sluggish start. 1:24 to go in the 1stQ: ATL 17, OKC 9, and Chris Wilcox just went down.
UPDATE (6:39 pm): End of first, ATL 22, OKC 14. The Thunder Girls take the floor to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.”
UPDATE (6:50 pm): Good to run into Matthew Wells and Bill Waugh in the pressroom. I worked with Matthew at NEWS 9, one of their many ace photogs. Bill was photo editor at The Oklahoman a few years ago. Matthew is with the Thunder now, I think Bill is with Reuters.
UPDATE (6:51 pm): Watching game from pressroom, TV broadcasters are talking up Russell Westbrook, who is having a strong game so far. ATL 28, OKC 25 with 7:30 left in the first half.
UPDATE (7:02 pm): Wifi for the laptop is cooking, but the iPhone gets no reception down here. Fail.
UPDATE (7:03 pm): Westbrook in double figures with 11 points, game tied.
UPDATE (7:04 pm): Good news, bad news. Thunder has ralled to tie the game at 30-30 with 5:15 to go. Crowd is going nuts. Wilcox has a sprained right knee.
UPDATE (7:05 pm): Crowd groans as the Hawks drains a corner 3-ball to go up 33-30.
UPDATE (7:06 pm): Darnell Mayberry comes in the pressroom, reports the “boys are playing hard.” Indeed, Thunder takes its first lead and then increases it to 41-38 with less than a minute. Atlanta has led by as many as 11 tonight.
UPDATE (7:07 pm): Halftime: Thunder 41, Atlanta 38. Crowd is into it.
UPDATE (7:26 pm): Was expecting a larger crush for the free food during halftime by the press. Guess they learned there are no cookies.
UPDATE (7:27 pm): The Thunder is holding strong so far, Wilcox is back on the bench in uniform. Mike Baldwin reporting he’s not sure if he’ll play.
UPDATE (7:30 pm): Game going back and forth. Atlanta retook a 3 point lead at 50-47, Thunder now up 52-50 with 6:29 in the 3rd.
UPDATE (7:31 pm): Robert Swift makes his 2008-09 Thunder debut, checking into the game.
UPDATE (7:32 pm): Durant getting it going, 11 points so far after a right elbow swish. 54-52 Thunder with 5:22 left in the 3Q, timeout.
UPDATE (7;36 pm): Crowd almost had their moment: Swift snared the rebound, fed Earl Watson for the break, Watson dribble-drive and lob to Desmond Mason for the attempted jam. Broken up, Thunder ball.
UPDATE (7:40 pm): Lots of up and down play. Lots of missed shots, kicked balls and turnovers. 2:07 left in the third, Thunder up 56-53.
UPDATE (7:43 pm): Swift still in the game after the break. Durant cans a long jumper, Thunder up 58-53, with 1:14 left in the quarter.
UPDATE (7:48 pm): End of the third quarter, Thunder leads 62-58. Swift just scored to beat the buzzer. He has played three minutes and has three rebounds. Could OKC be looking at its second win of the season?
UPDATE (7:51 pm): Swift starts the fourth quarter. Broadcasters just said Swift might be the most intelligent player on the team.
UPDATE (7:54 pm): Thunder holding strong, up 64-62 with 10:11 to play.
UPDATE (7:55 pm): Monte Williams jumper ties it for Atlanta, Durant loses it, Thunder foul at the other end, two free throws by Maurice Evans and its 66-64 Atlanta with 9:18 to go.
UPDATE (7:57 pm): Mason powers up and over Evans to tie it at 66-66. Westbrook with a thunderous two-handed dunk off a feed from Jeff Green, Thunder goes up 68-66. Timeout
UPDATE (8:01 pm): Joe Johnson has 21 points, 11 in the second half and the last two on free throws. We’re tied at 68-68.
UPDATE (8:04 pm): Durant with a nice drive, finishing with a floating right handed lay-up. Thunder up 75-68, biggest lead of the night.
UPDATE (8:06 pm): 18,231 is the announced attendance, not quite a sellout. I’m off to the post game area to get set up for PJ’s comments.
UPDATE (8:09 pm): Cliff Murray with nine fourth quarter points and a seven point Thunder lead is gone. We’re tied 77-77 with 4:50 left.
UPDATE (8:12 pm): The Thunder has a dozen offensive rebounds. Good effort by the bigs tonight.
UPDATE (8:13 pm): ATL’s Williams bangs home another three. He has 13 this quarter. Atlanta up 80-77 with 3:31 to go.
UPDATE: Watched the remainder of the game in the press conference room, waiting for the game to end and coach P.J. Carlesimo to give his thoughts. Atlanta stuck around long enough in this game to be there to close it out at the end. They have a little more experience at this than the Thunder.
Final score: Atlanta 89, OKC 85.
Played a duo gig with J. Falcon Powell last night in Bricktown. The scene of the crime: Nonna’s Purple Bar. Good crowd for a three hour set. Two different ladies were celebrating their 30th birthday’s, which always makes for a festive time. Good staff there, very friendly and helpful. And this is key when playing places – sometimes the bar staff is not so friendly or helpful. Some places are easy to load-in, Nonna’s is not so much. First, you valet park out front, then load-in is back through the kitchen up the service elevator then snake around the hallway to a corner of the bar. Again, everyone from the valet to the chefs to the hostesses were top notch peeps.