Oklahoma City Thunder (2-17) vs. Orlando Magic (14-5)
Friday, December 5
6:00 PM CST
TV: KSBI-52 (Cox 9)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Anybody else not really that psyched to watch this one tonight? And no, not because I’ve lost excitement over the team because its 2-17 (though, I’ll admit, I have… a little). It’s because of what the Man-Child did to us last time. Holy heaven in a hand-basket, he was dominant. Let’s revisit that line: 30 points, 19 rebounds, 10 blocks. Moses.
As I wrote in that post game recap, not having Kevin Durant really hurt. At the time he was really the only Thunder player that could hit a consistent jumper (and still kind of is), meaning OKC had to drive the lane over and over only to to see their shots sent back, over and over. OKC was in a 30-point hole in what seemed like seconds and tried to stage a small comeback when the Magic players were already on the bus.
But the bright spot that night was Jeff Green. He had 25 points, including 3-6 from three. That game was really Green’s season breakout night. He found confidence and found his stroke and in a weird way, Durant being out that night may have benefited the Thunder in the long run.
Friday against Charlotte, OKC shot 55 percent from the field and hit 7-11 from downtown. That HAS to happen again tonight for there to be any hope. In the first matchup, the Thunder was without Chris Wilcox which hurt because Robert Swift was doing his darndest to contain Dwight Howard. And by “darndest” I mean “I’m being nice because Swift tried hard, but got dominated in every way, shape and form.”
(Speaking of Swift, I love this comment from Clark Matthews of The Lost Ogle: “I love to listen the announcers discuss Robert Swift’s great basketball IQ and understanding of the game, while watching him wander around cluelessly in the offense and bump into Kevin Durant trying to get open.” When you’ve only played about 75 games in a three-year span and haven’t contributed anything substantial to the franchise that drafted you in the top 10, people have to find something nice to say about you. It’s like in little league, with the token worst kid on the team and the coach is going down the line and saying something about each player at the end of the season party and he gets to Melvin and says, “Uh, the thing about Melvin is, uh, he… uh, always comes to practice with a smile on his face. He has such a great attitude that it was contagious. Real hard worker.”)
Tonight, Russell Westbrook must play within himself. He’s been doing better at that lately, but hopefully he learned a lesson since the last meeting with the Beast. Pull up from eight. Don’t take it to the rim unless Howard is on the pine. In the first meeting, Westbrook was 3-19 from the field. Yikes. Just let the game come to you Russell. If it’s there, take it. Don’t force it. Let Green and Durant hit jumpers if it’s not.
It could be a long night in Orlando, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I like the direction of this team under Coach Scotty and if the team can duplicate the efficiency it had in Charlotte, but add the rebounding, the free throws and subtract the turnovers, the Thunder could be in this one. (That last sentence is pathetic – it reminds me of that Seinfeld where Jerry is on the train to Long Island and falls asleep and wakes up and the guy in front of him is naked. They go on and on about the Mets exchanging things like, “No, the problem is they’ve got no speed!” “No, the speed is fine. They’ve got no pitching!” “Well, you’ve got to like their chances.” “Oh, I love their chances.”) So yeah, if the Thunder can rebound better, shoot awesome, hit free throws, not turn the ball over, force turnovers, shut down Dwight Howard and play tremendous defense, then yeah, they might have a chance to win.