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Sports Tonight: Thunder not taking NBA by storm

Here is what's happening in sports on Friday, Nov.17, including tonight's TV schedule.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook holds a towel to his head during a time out after he was hit in the face by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, of Serbia, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook holds a towel to his head during a time out after he was hit in the face by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, of Serbia, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)Read moreAP

FYI, for the next month, almost every comment about the NBA season has to be qualified by "it's still early."

While it's still early, this "Big Three" thing isn't working all that well for Oklahoma City. Thus far, the addition of All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook has not elevated the Thunder to elite status.

OKC will bring a 7-7 record and three-game winning streak into its game at the San Antonio Spurs at 8 tonight on ESPN, but a closer examination of the Thunder reveals a team that has yet to put things together.

The combined record of the last three teams Oklahoma City has played is 9-31. The last two wins have been against the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks, which have each won just twice. The Thunder have beaten only two teams, the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks, that currently have winning records.

OKC is 2-5 on the road and 2-6 in the Western Conference.

The Spurs have been without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker all season but are 9-6 with LaMarcus Aldridge again playing like an All-Star.

Jokic goes from “EuroStash” to double-double machine for Denver

Thinking of NBA players who are likely averaging double doubles, two of the usual suspects, New Orleans Pelicans teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, will come to mind before Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

Only the most hardcore NBA fans will probably even know who the 22-year-old Jokic is when Denver plays New Orleans at 10:30 in the second half of a doubleheader on ESPN.

Jokic, who is averaging 16.4 points and 11.6 rebounds, was the typical "Euro-Stash" when Denver selected him with the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA draft –  a 19-year-old, near-7-footer who was viewed as a project. After playing one more season for KK Mega Basket in his native Serbia, Jokic signed with Denver and surprisingly made first-team all-rookie for the 2015-16 season.

For the 2016-17 season,  Jokic finished second to Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the voting for the Most Improved Player.

Jokic was named Western Conference player of the week earlier this month for averaging 22.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.3 steals in three games – including 41 points and 12 rebounds against Brooklyn.

What I’m reading

Staff writer Paul Domowitch tells how several Eagles who are lost for the season with injuries are still working to contribute to the team's success.

Villanova women's basketball coach Harry Perretta is in his 40th season on the Main Line. Staff writer Dick Jerardi details the inevitable situation of Perretta now having the daughters of former players on his team.

The Flyers finally scored again. In fact, they scored the first two goals but still lost. Staff writer Sam Carchidi gives his observations.

Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky really wants to watch the Eagles at a Super Bowl viewing party at Lincoln Financial Field, and she's going to keep the heat on the NFL to make that happen if the Birds get there.

ESPN the Magazine reveals that the issues that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are nastier than they wanted the public to know.

The riff

Considering the NCAA has no say in whether the NBA ends its one-and-done rule, it probably doesn't mean that much that NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts reportedly met with the newly created Commission on College Basketball on Thursday.

Ultimately, it will come down to Silver and Roberts to hammer out a deal if the Association is going to end its collectively bargained rule that says high school players in the United States are not eligible to enter the NBA draft until one year after their class has graduated.

Any movement in that direction, however, would benefit college basketball since its coaches can't exercise the discipline to stop trying to build their programs around kids who plan on making only a one-season pit stop on campus before jumping to the NBA.

If Silver and Roberts can manage to balance a workable give-and-take, the best solution would be a model like the one in college baseball. Make a player who actually enrolls in college ineligible to be drafted for two seasons.

In theory, that would allow elite talent that is ready for the NBA to not waste anyone's time by pretending to be a student-athlete for a year while giving teams the ability to evaluate lesser talent for at least two college seasons before investing millions of dollars by drafting them.

That would be a win for both the NBA and college basketball.

Today’s schedule


Rangers at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)

Thunder at Spurs, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Pelicans at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)

College Football
Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
UNLV at New Mexico, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Golf on Golf Channel
PGA: RSM Classic, 1:30 p.m.
LPGA: CME Championship, 4:30 p.m.
European PGA: DP Championship, 2:30 a.m. Saturday

ATP: World Tour Finals, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)

Anthony Dirrell vs. Denis Doughlin, super-middleweights, 10:30 p.m. (FS1)

Auto Racing
NASCAR Trucks: Ford 200 practice, 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m.; qualifying 3:30 p.m; race at 8 p.m. (FS1)
NASCAR Monster Enbergy Cup: Ford 400 practice, 12:30 p.m.; qualifying, 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
NASCAR Xfinity: Ford 300 practice, 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. (NBCSN)

Men's College Basketball
Puerto Rico Tipoff, 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU); 1 p.m. (ESPN2); 5 p.m., 7 p.m. (ESPU)
Temple vs. Auburn, 11 a.m. (WPHT-AM 1210)
Charleston Classic, 11 a.m. (ESPN2); 1:30 p.m. (ESPNU); 7 p.m. (ESPNEWS); 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Colorado State vs. Tulane, 2 p.m. (CBSSN)
Virginia at VCU, 4 p.m. (CBSSN)
2K Classic consolaton game, 5 p.m., 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Columbia at Penn State, 7 p.m. (WNTP-AM 990)
Villanova vs. Lafayette, 8 p.m. (FS2)
LIU Brooklyn at Miami (Ohio), midnight (CBSSN)

Winter Sports
U.S. Olympic Trials: Curling, 7:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

High School Football
Pennridge at Garnet Valley, 7 p.m. (WNPV-AM 1440)

Local Events

Harness Racing
Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, 12:40 p.m., Chester