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Coming off a loss or getting 10-plus from Sefolosha equals wins for Thunder
After starting the season a perfect 8-0 when Thabo Sefolosha scores in doubles figures, the Oklahoma City Thunder finally ended up on the losing end despite 11 from him against the Suns Dec. 19.
Last season, it was Nenad Krstic who possessed the magic touch for the Thunder. During the 2009-10 season, the Thunder went 27-3 in games in which Krstic scored 10-plus points.
Sefolosha, who is averaging 6.3 points, 5.4 boards and 1.6 assists for the Thunder in nearly 31 minutes of action this season, has been held to one- and six-point performances in the Thunder's last two outings. They went 1-1 in those two games, including a loss to the New York Knicks in their last game.
However, along with the correlation of double-digit performances from Sefolosha normally equalling wins, the Thunder (20-10) are equally as impressive coming off a loss. The Thunder are 8-1 this season in games after a defeat and they will play host to Denver on Christmas Day. OKC is 10-5 at home, while the Nuggets are 5-5 on the road.
The Nuggets dished out 22 assists against San Antonio on Dec. 22, marking the 13th time this season that Denver has posted 20 or more assists as a team. On the year, the Nuggets are now 13-5 when recording 20-plus assists (including 10-2 at the Pepsi Center).
Dorell Wright has started all 28 games this season, averaging 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals in 38.9 minutes per game. Wright averaged 7.1 points last season in Miami, and his 7.5 point increase ranks first in the NBA among players who have appeared in at least 15 games this season.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin recorded his 23rd double-double on Dec. 22, scoring 24 points and grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds. Griffin’s 23 double-doubles is the second highest in the NBA (Kevin Love, first with 25). Griffin now has registered a double-double in 17 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA this season and now the second longest double-double streak for the Clippers in the last 24 years. Michael Cage recorded 19 straight from Dec. 10, 1986-Jan. 16, 1987. Since the 2001-02 season, Griffin’s 17-game double-double streak is the sixth longest in the NBA.
Entering the Lakers' Christmas Day game vs. Miami, Derek Fisher has played in 442 consecutive regular season games dating back to April 15, 2005, the longest consecutive games streak among all active NBA players. Fisher moved into the top position after Portland’s Andre Miller (632) missed the Blazers game against Phoenix (Dec. 7) due to NBA suspension. Additionally, Fisher has started 320 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season’s worth of games (second is Houston's Luis Scola). Former Laker A.C. Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192 dating from Nov. 19, 1986-April 18, 2001 while a member of the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.
Early in the season, Memphis has been involved in some tight finishes. The Grizzlies are tied for second with Charlotte in games decided by three points or less. Memphis is 4-4 in such games. Denver leads the league with nine games decided by three-points or less. The Grizzlies have also gone into overtime on four other occasions, including a double-OT game on Nov. 5 at Phoenix. Memphis is tied with the Detroit Pistons for the most overtime games this season.
The Timberwolves completed their longest road trip of the season Dec. 20 with an 0-6 record, capped by their sixth 20-plus-point loss of the season after a 113-90 defeat to the Clippers. Prior the horrific ending, Minnesota had lost the previous four games of the road trip by two, five, six and nine points. They returned home Dec. 22 to play host to the Utah Jazz, one of seven teams in the NBA with 10-plus road wins, and managed to keep it respectable with a 112-107 defeat.
When Marcus Thornton scores at least 10 points the Hornets are 6-1 this season. In the last two games, Thornton is averaging a team-best 19 points on 16-of-25 (.640) shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range (.714). He is also averaging 4.5 boards, and 1.5 steals. The back-to-back double-digit performances marked the first time since the season opener vs Denver and the next game vs. San Antonio that Thornton has scored 10 or more points in two straight games.
The Suns played their fourth straight game against a 20-win team on Thursday night when they played host to the Miami Heat. There are just seven 20-win teams in the entire league currently. The Suns fell 95-83, and are 1-3 in those four games against 20-win teams — Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami. The schedule certainly lightens up in regards to 20-win teams. The next four games for the Suns are the Clippers, 76ers, Pistons and Kings, which have combined for 34 wins compared to the 100 the last four opponents had won.
Three of Rudy Fernandez’s four highest scoring games this year have come in the last three contests, where he has averaged 19.3 points. He scored a career-high 26 points on Dec. 17 vs. Minnesota.
Along with putting up more points this season, the Spurs are averaging their highest assists totals in 15 years. Currently, the Spurs are averaging 23.9 assists per game, which ranks third in the NBA. It is the highest assist per game average since the 1995-96 season when the Spurs averaged 24.9 assists. Individually, Tony Parker averages seven assists per game, Manu Ginobili (4.9). The Spurs season-high for assists in a game this year is 32 which occurred on Nov. 20 vs. Cleveland.