Oklahoma City led for virtually the entire game but poor defense and bad execution late let the Lakers come back and take a 74-68 win in the most important basketball game in history. Some observations:
- Tonight was the James Harden show. After his worst Summer League game Sunday night (just four points), he put together a full line: 23 points on 9-14 shooting (2-5 from 3), five rebounds, five assists and two steals. After the Thunder had scored just two points in five and half minutes to start the third, Harden ripped off 11 straight. He hit a nice 20-footer and was fouled on it, then nailed back-to-back threes and finished it off with a driving layup.
- Harden and Kyle Weaver took turns running a lot of point guard tonight with mixed results. Weaver had a nice game (10 points, three rebounds, eight assists, three blocks, two steals), but he turned it over four times. Sometimes it seems like Weaver tries to make the excellent pass too often. Maybe you can thread the needle with a no-look dish, but more than likely you can’t, but most times Weaver will try it anyway. Every player is guilty of forcing passes, but Weaver gets fancy a lot and tries it too much. Harden did a pretty good job running point, but with him distributing and not a lot of options on the wing, the offense really stalled. I think things would work really well with Harden at the point if he has Russell Westbrook, KD and Jeff Green alongside him.
- One other observation about Weaver: While sometimes he doesn’t always make the biggest impact in the box score, he sure was a menace defensively tonight. He guarded Adam Morrison for most of the night and Morrison was forced into his worst Summer League line yet (5-18 from the floor). He got in passing lanes, blocked shots and took a charge or two. He’s really not the type of player you want in the game for 30 minutes, but he at least does good things for you all the time on one end of the court.
- Serge Ibaka has kind of disappeared in Vegas. After averaging 13 and four on almost 70 percent shooting in Orlando, he put up just three points and three rebounds, hitting just one of his four shots. He also turned it over five times and was bullied on the boards. He not playing with anywhere near the focus and intensity he was last week. Has that little contract he signed already gone to his head? Surely not, but something’s up. I liked last week’s Chewie much better.
- One play to point out about Ibaka: Early in the fourth quarter, Morrison was at the free throw line and missed his second attempt. Ibaka halfway blocked out David Monds and the ball went right over Ibaka’s head. Monds manhandled Ibaka, grabbing the board and then went right back up and in. I like Ibaka a lot – a whole lot – but that’s not going to cut it if he wants to make this roster.
- D.J. White was having a really nice ballgame but got knocked upside the head during a scramble in the third quarter and never returned. It appeared he was just fine, but even so, he was held out. In his 17 minutes he had nine points on 4-5 shooting.
- Mr. Byron Mullens had one of his better games Tuesday night (which of course means he’ll stink Thursday). He was extremely active and played hard for all of his 25 minutes (great hustle diving on the floor for a loose ball). After not blocking a single shot all week in Orlando, he tossed away five tonight. The best one of the night was him coming all the way across the lane to help on Morrison. His rotation was right on time and he timed everything perfectly. He scored 10 on 5-11 shooting and had five boards, but was 0-4 from the free throw line. I don’t mind Byron Mullens the jump shooter (when he’s making them), but I’d like to see more of Byron Mullens the physical post player. Kind of a waste to be 7’2″ (evidently) and just stand outside and shooter jumpers.
- The Thunder shot 52 percent from the field compared to the Lakers 41 percent, yet lost by six. How you ask? Well L.A. shot 17 more times than OKC. Six more offensive rebounds, six fewer turnovers will do that for you.
- After letting a lot of the non-roster guys play a lot Sunday night, Marcus Dove was the only one that got any time tonight and he saw just four minutes.
- Just wanted to say that David Monds is a pretty nice player. He had 11 and five tonight and he looks like he could make a roster. He’s not going to blow you away with anything, but he works hard on the glass and just kind of fits in.
That puts the Thunder at 0-2 in Vegas and 3-4 overall for Summer League play. Which of course means absolutely nothing. Next game is Thursday night at 7:30 CST against San Antonio.