As one commenter said, the Thunder were only down two at half and he expected them to lose by 8-12 points in the end. That’s what I thought. That’s what everybody thought. Especially against a good Pistons squad, in their building nonetheless.
And at a few points, it looked like it was happening. Oklahoma City was down by 14 and appeared to be fading, but an 11-0 run pulled the Thunder to within three. While that run was great and all, the following few minutes showed just how far this team has come. In the past, the valiant comeback attempts came up short and by “short,” I mean well short. But OKC fought and scrapped and scraped and with Joe Smith’s 21-footer, the game was tied at 88-88 with under 20 seconds left.
But then Allen Iverson did what he was supposed to. He challenged Russell Westbrook and hit an impossible leaning jumper with 0.02 seconds left. But again, OKC wasn’t throwing it in yet. A lob to Jeff Green was executed perfectly, well, except for Green actually putting the ball in the hoop. But still, the play was ran just how Scott Brooks wanted, but it’s kind of hard to place the ball when you only have time to put a pinky on it.
Once again, all you have to do to find out why the Thunder came up short is look at the details. Free throw shooting once again failed them. 63 percent from the line just isn’t going to cut it. The hidden points that you missed out on just because of a lack of concentration or whatever the reason, can’t be excused.
While Kevin Durant was once again good, the 1-6 from three concerns me a tad. He’s been shooting the three-ball so well lately (over 50 percent this month), I fear he’s going to have a lapse and get carried away with the moneyball and start chucking like he did the first half of his rookie season. But I think he’s come a long way in that. For the most part, the six shots were good looks that just didn’t go in. He didn’t force it and was still 9-19 from the field. But Durant has been scary good lately – his 26 Friday night made it nine straight outings with over 20 points and six with 25 or more. I’m excited with where his game is going.
And Russell Westbrook should pick up a few slam dunk votes tonight with his two ridunkulous (see what I did there?) rim-rockers. That second one with the little cross and dive into the lane was a thing of beauty until he cocked and assaulted the iron. Very awesome. Brian Davis sounded like threw up on the microphone as he stammered to get the superlatives out after it.
But honestly, outside of the poor foul shooting, I don’t see how anyone could complain or bash after this one. Seems to me this is one of those, snap your fingers and say “shucks” type of games. Even if OKC was 20-9 instead of 3-26 coming in, losing to a top five time in the East in their gym on a last-second shot is nothing to be ashamed of. The idea is, in two years when this group has completely matured, these type of games will have been integral in getting the Thunder to the point of being a winning ball club.
Next up is a winnable one in Washington against the 4-23 Wizards. These kind of games concern me because 1) Nothing is a gimme for this group and 2) I hate expecting a 3-27 team to win, because that typically leads to disappointment. But that’s what will be the case Saturday night in Washington. If this so-called improvement is really happening, then the team should go out and win one against a sub-par opponent. But again, three and twenty-seven. There’s no “should’s” involved with the Thunder except “should lose.”