I have no idea what is going on here. This actually comes to mind.
So the Thunder drops a bad one at home to the Clippers. Then heads out on the road – the place they were 8-33 last year – and beats the 7-2 Miami Heat 100-87. That gives Oklahoma City its third straight road win, the first time that has happened for this franchise since 2007. Did we see this coming? Yes and no.
I think it’s clear this team is going to win games. If you picture them at all like last year’s group, just forget it. This is like a Wayne Knight transformation. Like I’ve said, it’s not about hoping to be competitive anymore. That was last year. But it’s also not really about expecting wins. This team is at the point where you expect to have a CHANCE to win. And when you do that, you come out on top a lot of the time.
I know a lot of people are scratching their heads saying, “Why does the Thunder play up and then down to opponents?” My answer: I have no freaking clue. No idea why. But the thing is, this team really has the look of a group that can be .500 or even better. To shake off a bad one from Sunday and go on the road and beat one of the four best teams in the East is no small task. We knew the Thunder matched up well with the Heat, but Oklahoma City dominated this game in the second half. Just owned it.
I’d say everybody gets a game ball, but once again, Thabo Sefolosha was the stud of the evening. Miami relies on mainly one guy to provide their scoring. And that one guy was held to 22 points on 6-19 shooting and turned it over six times. Thabo on the other hands had just two points, but grabbed nine boards, dished out four assists and had four steals. He’s a wrecking crew. He doesn’t just shut down his man. He jumps passing lanes. He helps on every drive. He communicates. This team is amazing on the defensive end of the floor and it all starts with the Swissman.
And before we move on to a couple notes, hey Mr. Radio Host, feel free to yell at Russell Westbrook before every game. He seems to play somewhat well afterward. So yeah, RUS-SEL WEST-BROOK IS NOT A POINT GUARD HE’LL NEVER BE ONE HEAR ME NOW CAL RIPKEN BIG LEAGUE NOM NOM NOM. OK, I’m done now. I had to indulge myself. I’m sorry. (Westbrook’s line: 24 points, 9-13 shooting. seven assists and just two turnovers.)
See this is the thing people need to realize: It’s all about the development. If you’re willing to deal with games like Sunday, you’ll be rewarded with nights like this. And as his career moves on, these nights will become more and more commonplace. Heck, Sunday against the Clips he was actually really good. Last year, a bad night for Russ was 2-14 from the floor, six turnovers and five assists. This year, it’s 17-7-5 and two turns. I like where he’s headed. You don’t just show up in this league and play like John Stockton. You’ve got to work and learn and develop. Not saying Westbrook is going to be Stockton, but if you’re willing to hang with him, I have a feeling he’s going to pay you back with a lot of these nights.
- The Thunder built a nice 14-point lead in the second quarter, but a questionable out of bounds call led to a 9-0 Heat run. But instead of crumbling and letting Miami take a lead into the locker room, OKC fought and led 45-42 at the half. That’s something that has been huge this year. In the last three minutes of a quarter, the Thunder are closing. Such a 180 from last season.
- I honestly don’t know if Kevin Durant hit rim tonight on his makes. Everything was all net. He had another ho-hum 32 on 11-23 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and had five assists. And he stayed under 40 minutes!
- A comment from the Daily Dime chat I found interesting: “I think Westbrook will end up more like a Dumars because he doesn’t have great vision. I think he could be a defensive monster in a couple of years with the ability to score. Something like Dumars or Dennis Johnson.”
- Westbrook had nine in the fourth including a monster No No No Yes Yes Yes 3 and Durant had eight. OKC scored 26 in the quarter.
- Jeff Green was quiet again in 31 minutes (13 points, two rebounds), but Nick Collison was huge. Ten points, six rebounds for Nick and some key late game defense on Udonis Haslem.
- I am asking this while doing my best to not have it come off as complaining: Does any player get as many calls as Dwyane Wade? When I watch him, I honestly wonder why he doesn’t drive the lane and just jump at the rim. He’ll likely get a call. Now Wade is a great player of course, but it just sometimes seems like he gets calls he shouldn’t.
- Get used to this because I’m probably going to do it for a while. Last year’s sixth win: Jan. 10. Last year’s fourth road win: Feb. 28.
- Do you guys think Jermaine O’Neal’s headband is actually the waistband off a large pair of sweatpants? I do.
- Only 11 turnovers tonight. That’s awesome.
One very, very important thing about this game: The Thunder started hot. Not necessarily offensively, but there were no lapses and no hole dug. This time when they put together their patented third quarter spurt, it was to separate themselves from the Heat, rather than claw back in a game. That’s key. Very, very key.
Now OKC travels to Orlando with a guarantee of coming back home at least .500. That feels good. But now I don’t know what to think about Wednesday’s game. This team is going to lose some games that make you want to drop a toaster on your foot, but there will be plenty more nights like this. This team is going places. I’m not sure where that exactly is, but I know it’s in the right direction.