No James Harden Thursday night for Oklahoma City and his absence really showed, especially in the second half as the Thunder couldn’t generate any offense as they lost 85-76 to the Spurs. DeJuan Blair and George Hill had 20 points apiece and Malik Hairston added 16 for San Antonio. D.J. White led OKC with 17. Some observations:
- Kyle Weaver again played a ton of point guard, scoring 11 points on 4-10 shooting and dished out three assists. But he had six turnovers. And these weren’t the “Oh, well they were really his teammates’ fault” kind of turnovers. He just made bad decisions and forced a lot of passes. Off the pick and roll Weaver goes airborne with no where to go with the ball a lot, like he’s expecting an open shot or an open teammate as soon as he turns the corner. He just looks unsure of himself at the point. Pass or shoot pass or shoot pass or shoot? AHHHHH!!!! It looked like he was trying assert himself offensively, but he just wasn’t that efficient. And George Hill abused him for most of the night scoring 20 with nine assists.
- D.J. White is such an awesome pick and pop guy. He is really almost automatic from 15-18 feet (17 points, 7-12 from the floor). I really don’t have anything bad to say about him. He does just what he needs to do. Eight years from now, whether it’s for the Thunder or someone else, White will be that savvy veteran bench big man that every team wants for a title run.
- OKC hit five 3-pointers, with four of them coming from Robert Vaden. About time for the Sith Lord to get it going. He finally looked totally comfortable shooting the ball and he didn’t really force anything. He scored 16, missed just one three and was 6-10 from the field in 33 minutes. I think Vaden can be a nice offensive player and I get the feeling his poor performances were more from him pressing to impress, rather than him not actually having the talent.
- Serge Ibaka was much, much more aggressive tonight which was great to see. After two lackluster games in Vegas where he scored a total of six points and had seven rebounds, he had 15 and eight tonight, including SEVEN offensive boards. He was 6-14 from the floor and he got his little elbow jumper going again and also showcased some post moves. Though he did get postered by Hairston at one point. But that doesn’t go in the box score so who cares.
- Another thought about Weaver: This is guessing, but I’d say 7 out of 10 times, he misses short on an outside shot. The reason I see for it is that he hangs for a split second too long and sometimes appears to release on the way down instead of at his peak. He holds the ball so far out in front of him that his shot is virtually all wrist. The times he’s at his best shooting the ball are when he catches a pass in rhythm and is wide open. He gets a lot better lift and that gives the ball that extra arc needed to get over the rim.
- A prime example about what I was talking about with Byron Mullens Wednesday happened with 8:01 left in the game. Mullens caught he ball on a quick post with single coverage, about 10 feet from the bucket. Instead of taking two or three dribbles and backing down the smaller defender to the block so that he could make a post move, he took one second to think, turned and fired a jumper which caught front iron. Why B.J.? WHY!?!?!? I’m not going to call you by your full name until you start at least trying to develop a post game. It’ll be like the opposite of your mom getting on to you. Instead of “Byron James Mullens, you post up right now,” it’ll be, “B.J.M., freaking post somebody up.”
- Mullens did make two nice passes in the first quarter though. One was a nice high-low to Ibaka for an easy finish and the other was a smart extra pass to Weaver for three. Mullens caught the ball at the top of the key and was open for the jumper. But instead of hoisting right there, he pulled the ball up, drew a defender and then made a good pass to Weaver in the corner for the trey.
- Keith McLeod and Moses Ehambe saw some limited minutes tonight, but for the most part, the non-roster guys haven’t gotten much of a shot. And with the offense stalling horribly in the third and fourth quarters, it would have been nice to see a little Richard Roby. The former Colorado stud hasn’t seen any time yet in Vegas and it would be nice to get a little look at him. He can fill it up.
Just two more to go and then we have like nothing to do until camp starts this fall. Next up is Chicago Friday night at 7:30 p.m. CST.