The Thunder lost a very winnable game tonight to an injury riddled team which barely had enough healthy bodies to field a team. It’s a shame the Thunder couldn’t muster up a little perimeter defense and hang onto the ball a little better and this thing could have been a completely different story.
The boys in Blue were killed by deep jumpers. Countless times the Clippers ran the drive and kick right down our throats. Playing without a real point guard for three quarters didn’t even seem to bother them a bit. They ran Fred Jones at the point, Ricky Davis, a banged up Jason Hart a few minutes and Eric Gordon handled the rock quite a bit. What’s really sad is that Ricky Davis is one of the most shot happy players in the NBA. He doesn’t like to give up the rock at all; but tonight, playing good minutes at the point he dished for 11 assists against our poor defense.
Eric Gordon showed why he was a lottery pick, one that I actually thought might go to us in the draft ( I never really thought Presti would reach for Westbrook at #4 when we already had Watson and Ridnour). He was just incredible offensively. He has the total package and is likely going to be rookie of the month for January. Westbrook, Watson and Mason all got schooled by EG. Al Thornton also played the best game I’ve ever seen him play. Green and Durant both shared duties on him and neither did much to slow him down.
Also sad is that when I saw the starting lineup with Ricky Davis, Thornton, EG, Mardy Collins and DeAndre Jordan, I snickered to myself and thought we might run away with this thing because that lineup doesn’t sound like it will play any defense. Well, it’s true that they didn’t really excel defensively, but they did a much better job than we did.
After only scoring 19 points in the third quarter, OKC came out and put 32 on the board in the fourth on the strength of Kevin Durant getting fouled and going to the line. He was 8-9 from the stripe in the fourth, but only 3-10 from the field. Still it wasn’t enough to close the gap while allowing the Clips to shoot 10-17 and score 30 points in the fourth.
- I’ve never seen Nick Collison “almost” get so many rebounds in one game. He finished with 6, but I bet he firmly had his hands on 7 or 8 more that got poked or slapped out of his hands. His rebounding looks bad on paper, but he was in position and got his hands on them and just couldn’t get them down. Maybe some of our other players could do a little boxing out?
- I would have liked to see Mason get a little more time on Eric Gordon defensively, but he kept picking up cheap fouls and never got much playing time. The way Gordon was playing, it probably would have been about like the effort Mason had against Dwayne Wade the other night-a valiant effort, but poor results. Nobody else could stop Gordon.
- Kyle Weaver continues to impress me. Tonight I saw him execute a little pick and roll with Green and hit him in just the right spot to get the AND 1. He also came off a little curl and buried a 18 footer in rhythm. DeAndre Jordan crushed and rolled over Weaver’s ankle in the first half. It looked ugly on the replay, but he was back to his smooth self in the second half.
- Brooks used a funky lineup for a few minutes of Westbrook, Watson, Weaver, Mason and Krstic, which means Mason was likely playing Power Forward.
- The Thunder shot a lot of jumpers tonight, and gave a lot less effort getting to the rim. Durant was probably the exception.
- On League Pass, listening to the Clips announcers, on a shot of all the injured Clipper players dressed in street clothes commented “all of the really good (Clipper) players are over there wearing suits”…
- Jason Hart tried to run an alley oop for Thornton and the only defender back was Durant, yet Durant played it beautifully and got up about 13 feet in the air to snag the pass.
- The last play of the first half had Russell Westbrook totally at a loss with what to do with the ball. There was 10 seconds left and he just dribbled and dribbled and then decided he would drive it right into the crowded paint…….turnover.
- We got to witness travelling calls on back to back possessions by Watson and Green.
- Did I mention our perimeter defense. How do we figure to win close games when we can’t close out on the shooters? We repeatedly left the perimeter unguarded, allowing the Clips to really stroke the threes and long twos.
- Our last play of the game made no sense to me. Maybe I am missing something, but we are down by three with 6 seconds left. Green is making the inbounds pass. Collison comes to take the pass and is immediately fouled. Why? Not the foul, why Collison? Why isn’t Collison or somebody else making the inbounds pass to a shooter like Green, Durant, or maybe Westbrook. That way they can launch if they think the foul is coming, or just take a good shot. Why not have Durant do that little thing where he jumps up and brings the ball into the defenders hands and gets the foul and ties it up from the line. I suspect that it was going to be a give and go, where Collison gets it and immediately passes it back to Green and kind of screens a defender for an open shot to tie. You’d have to think that with the Thunder having no timeouts, the Clips would likely foul Collison and live with the free throws rather than let Green make another game winner wouldn’t you?
By the numbers
- We had 114 scoring opportunities (field goal attempts + free throw attempts) to the Clips 103. This despite turning the ball over 18 times. We again crushed our opponent on the boards 48-31, and 17-8 on the offensive glass. All those rebounds gave us more cracks at scoring , but the Clips were more efficient with their offense.
- Our offensive efficiency was 116.9. Theirs was 120. The pace was a pedestrian 89 possessions.
- The 39 free throw attempts was the most this season. I am surprised we could get that many freebies and not win. It shows how sub par our shooting was.
- We shot 42.7% from the field, they shot 48%. Our eFG was 47.3%, theirs was 55.1%.
- We allowed the Clips to shoot a ridiculous 58% from the three point line (11-19).
Studs and Duds
- Durant carried the load offensively with 42 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block while only picking up 3 fouls and 2 turns. He was 24-26 from the line. His shooting % was a bit low (10-23, 4f3%).
- Durant averages 18 field goal attempts a night, but tonight he gobbled up 23, taking some from Collison, Westbrook and Green.
- Westbrook looked like a rookie tonight, getting more turns than assists. His defense was bothersome tonight. More than once I saw him gamble for a steal, then be out of position when he didn’t get it, leaving his man (usually Gordon) open for a shot or a drive.
- Green was quiet tonight with 14 and 6.
- Weaver really filled the space left by Mason’s foul trouble. He had 8 points, 5 rebounds and a block in 23 minutes.