For all the “this team is getting better” momentum Oklahoma City spent the last week and a half building, this was a major step in the wrong direction. Granted, it was a road game coming off a killer loss the night before, but that’s no excuse. You were playing a 4-23 team without two of its biggest stars (Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas).
The Thunder were in it until another dreadful fourth doomed them (outscored 28-19). OKC turned the ball over 19 times but here’s the stat of the game: Washington took 100 shots; OKC took 77. For all you math studs that’s 23 extra times the Wizards had a chance to throw the ball at the hoop. That’s where the game was lost, plain and simple. It was a game of runs in the second half with Washington going on a 7-0 spurt, then OKC coming back with an 8-0 then Washington countering with another 7-0 and then a 10-0 by the Thunder. But in the end a 12-0 run by the Wiz at the start of the fourth created separation and made OKC play catchup the rest of the way.
Kevin Durant made it seven in a row over 25 and 10 over 20 and even grabbed 11 boards, but Russell Westbrook was again relatively ineffective, scoring just 10 and turning the ball over five times. Four of the last five games Westbrook has turned the ball over five times. That’s a little frustrating. He’s still a rookie and he’s still learning a new position and honestly, I’m thrilled with his progress thus far. I don’t think many thought he’d be as good as he’s been this early, but he’s just a little inconsistent.
I do like Kyle Weaver getting Damien Wilkins’ minutes because we all know Wilkins was bringing basically nothing when he was on the floor. Weaver is a rookie and he deserves some play. He’ll never be a star but he could make a good role player. And at 3-28, why not give him some burn?
An aside: I listened to the first half of the game on the radio tonight driving back from dinner celebrating my dad’s birthday. I’ve listened to Matt Pinto here and there throughout the year when I was late to get home or something, but this is the first time I’ve listened for an extended period. While he’s not bad, he’s not really good. He does an excellent, excellent job of describing the action and putting pictures in your head. He has great energy and keeps listening on the radio feel interesting. But he’s too dramatic and too wordy. He seems a little too in love with alliteration. Like he’ll say stuff like, “Chris Wilcox scoops and swoops to the hoop for a rim-rocking, razzle-dazzle dunk!” Or, “Kevin Durant picks, probes and punches his way into the paint and kicks to Jeff Green for a CHA-CHING! Thunder moneyball!” It’s just over-the-top. One thing that would help would be a color man to give a different voice and perspective on the game so you’re not hearing Matt Pinto for two straight hours. At timeouts I wonder if he has to towel off and drink some Starbucks Tazo tea to keep his vocal chords from melting. I’m okay with his work, I just think he needs to gear down a bit on his own razzle-dazzle.
A frustrating night to watch the Thunder drop another one that they had a real chance at winning. We’ve all come to expect it and it shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. It’s tough to win when you’re getting steady production from one guy (Durant) while two others trade nights (Westbrook and Jeff Green) and the rest don’t give you much on a nightly basis.
The Thunder returns home for a rematch against Phoenix Monday night. The first time the two met, the Shaq-less Suns took a 99-98 thriller from OKC.