Go ahead and mean-mug, Kevin Durant. You earned it. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: Daily Thunder. Royce Young: "The Thunder got the Miami monkey off their back. They ended the six-game skid, and not just that, revealed a precise, pinpoint gameplan to beating them."
PF: Daily Dime. Brian Windhorst: "Watching James defend Durant on Wednesday said it all. One of the best on-ball defenders in the league because of his size, quickness and confidence, James repeatedly found himself on his heels dealing with the triple threat that Durant has morphed into as his game has been honed."
SF: SB Nation. Paul Flannery: "It was 15-2 when Brooks mercifully yanked Perk and it was 110-80 after that [...] That’s an absurd example of what we’ve all known for a while now. Take Perkins out of the mix, and the Thunder become a versatile and dangerous squad, with young players like Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones adding a much-needed infusion of talent and athleticism."
SG: Heat Index. Tom Haberstroh: "With Perkins on the bench, the Thunder score 110.8 points per 100 possessions with 23.1 percent of their points coming from 3s. When he’s in the game the Thunder’s scoring output drops to 102.7 points per 100 possessions and the portion of 3-pointers drops to 17.7 percent, according to NBA.com. Statistically, the defense doesn’t change in effectiveness either way. All of these numbers come as no surprise if you watched Wednesday’s blowout."
PG: USA TODAY Sports. Sam Amick: "[...] whether Heat coach Erik Spoelstra got it right when he said his team was 'outclassed' or not, there was no disputing the fact that it was a dominating performance. 'They beat us good,' James said. 'Outclassed? I don't know if I'm going to go that far, but they came in and beat us pretty good.' Said forward Chris Bosh: 'I'd have to respectfully disagree [with Spoelstra]. Sometimes you get your [expletive] whooped.'"
6th: SB Nation. Doug Eberhardt offers his ATO All-Stars, celebrating the coaches (and one surprise addition) that have done the most consistently brilliant job in drawing up plays that create good, open looks out of timeouts thus far this season.
7th: Raptors Republic. In which Zarar Siddiqi explains how Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri views trading Kyle Lowry and/or DeMar DeRozan as "like selling a Drake OVO t-shirt on eBay for $250." (Which sounds better than selling OVO Jordans on eBay for $100,000.)
8th: Blazersedge. With the Portland Trail Blazers offense starting to struggle a bit as opponents make a more concerted effort to shut down their prolific 3-point-bombing, Dane Carbaugh looks at some ways Terry Stotts' team can counter the increased levels of perimeter pressure to get the high-powered attack rolling once more.
9th: The Triangle. Zach Lowe veers off his usual tape-breakdown-and-deep-stat-dive-and-heavy-reporting tack to rediscover a tiny spark he'd thought had long since been snuffed out, and it makes for an engaging read.
10th: Red94. Michael Pina looks at some specific areas in which Jeremy Lin is struggling after his hot start to the season, and why the point guard's particular shortcomings — and how they clash with the Houston Rockets' grand design — make it increasingly likely that "Lin and Houston will part ways sooner than later."
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