Oklahoma City (2-16) played its best game of the season beating Memphis (4-13) 111-103 to lock up its second win. I’ll be honest, I only caught about 10 percent of the game because all my attention was on Bedlam (and how sweet it was – OU 61, OSU 41), but I saw most of the fourth and the really solid finish. As the Thunder edged closer, getting within four, then two, then one, it just seemed like another night of failing to do the little things to win. I was sitting next to my mother and she swore they would win it. I kept telling her, “No, they always figure out a way to lose these type of games.” And then Earl Watson blew a layup and Mike Conley Jr. answered with an acrobatic finish.
But OKC wouldn’t quit. I was positive they’d mail it in after last night’s heartbreaker the way they did against Cleveland after the Phoenix game. But boy, they didn’t. OKC trailed by 11 at the half but kept plugging, kept chopping. I’m not going to be the guy that says this “turns the season around” or anything, but these guys needed this. This city needed this – even if we didn’t see it. Hey, that’s what SportsCenter is for, right?
Tonight, count me in as a Scott Brooks fan. This guy has turned the tide. He’s given the players confidence and he’s not letting them drag their skulls after a tough stretch. He doesn’t chew them out after the opponent goes on an 8-0 run like, ahem, some unnamed people would. He just claps his hands and shouts encouragement. I love starting Russell Westbrook for two reasons: 1) Because it makes me right! I did say Westbrook would be starting by Christmas and 2) because Westbrook plays with so much energy and aggression that he sparks the team while Earl Watson can come in and cool the team. A shakeup was needed and why not go with the guy that plays the hardest? He is so ridiculously athletic. That offensive rebound where he went up and over Rudy Gay was unreal.
Brooks again went with the lineup that was working late in the game when he let Westbrook, Watson, Desmond Mason, Joe Smith and Damien Wilkins bring the team back in it. Then he added Jeff Green and Kevin Durant at the right time to keep the momentum pumping. Great coaching.
This is what Sam Presti has been dreaming about. Kevin Durant scores 30 and General Disarray Jeff Green adds 22. Westbrook plays terrific and the role players do their jobs. Mason adds 11, Wilkins 11, Smith 10, Watson nine and seven assists.
I apologize if I seem a little too jovial with a win over a 4-13 team that improves OKC to 2-16. But geez, cut us some slack – we were dying for one of these. It’s not like we’re going to have a parade down Sheridan Ave tomorrow morning over it, but after losing 14 in a row, this kind of feels good. And when I think about it, it’s really strange that it does, especially when you actually look and see the team is still 2-16. Oh well, one by one. Game by game. That’s the mantra from here on out. Baby steps Thunder. And this is a good first step.
A couple of days off for the Thunder and then they travel to Charlotte to take on the 5-11 Bobcats. Winning streak anyone?