Some losses are frustrating because of who you lost to. Some are frustrating because of how you lost. And some are frustrating because of why you lost.
And tonight’s 100-91 to the Rockets is definitely the latter.
How does this sound? Twenty-three offensive rebounds and 19 more shot attempts. That’s what Houston had in their favor Sunday night. That’s the reason the Rockets won. The. Reason. Toss 19 Oklahoma City turnovers and 1-13 from 3 on top of that and you’ve got quite a recipe for a loss. The fact the Thunder only fell by nine is actually kind of impressive. The fact OKC hit almost 50 percent of its 75 shots is really the only reason it stayed close.
Here’s the thing: I’m not terribly upset about the loss. Sure, it’s an opportunity lost. Sure, it’s a game that when you look at the box score, you’ll see a glaring reason why the team lost. Sure, it’s a game that you feel like you should have and could have won. But the Rockets are no pushover team and Oklahoma City was playing with just nine healthy bodies. Key contributors missing: Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison and Kevin Ollie. And I have to think Krstic and Collison would have helped on the boards. Actually I don’t think, I know.
Still no excuse to lose though. You shouldn’t give up 23 offensive boards to a juco team. The missing players doesn’t excuse the poor defensive rotations, the turnovers and the missed shots. So while this loss doesn’t make me want to jump off a tall structure, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Such is the NBA season with a young team.
I’m not really into questioning Scott Brooks because I know he’s far smarter than I, but I have to wonder a little why he stuck with Serge Ibaka so much in the fourth quarter instead of the much more physical Etan Thomas. Heck, maybe even a little more D.J. White would have helped. He played three VERY quality minutes late in the second quarter. The fact is, something wasn’t working on the glass. It’s not like it was all Ibaka’s fault, but when you’re being dominated like that, a shake up might help. The fact Ibaka had just two rebounds really sticks out to me. At the same time, those were valuable minutes to a young talented guy that’s learning.
The Thunder led 54-45 at the break, but was outscored by 18 in the second half. That doesn’t sound like the team we’ve seen so far this year. It wasn’t really like they were flat out of the locker room, but yet something was missing. Maybe if a few shots would have fallen or the snowball wouldn’t have grown on the glass, things would have been different. But the fact is, an undersized Rockets squard outboarded the Thunder 46-35, with HALF of those coming on the offensive end. I don’t know if that’s a tribute to the Rockets’ heart and desire on the glass or the Thunder’s indifference, but something was wrong there. Something.
- Houston did all that damage inside without Luis Scola who was injured on the game’s first play. Etan Thomas inadvertently caught Scola under the eye on a dunk and bloodied the Rocket power forward, causing him to miss the rest of the contest.
- A couple 3-pointers drop for OKC and this thing is different. Jeff Green was an uncharacteristic 0-5. Durant 0-3. Westbrook 0-2. The team, 1-13. When Serge Ibaka hits your only 3-pointer of the game, you know it’s not going to be your night.
- I really like D.J. White. He had eight points in three minutes. If you leave him open from 15 feet or under, he’s going to make it. Guaranteed. He just will.
- Byron Mullens was on the bench. I guess he was called back up.
- Kevin Durant was decent, scoring 25 on 10-19 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and had six assists. It was a full line, but KD didn’t take a free throw until four minutes left in the third and only had five attempts for the game. He turned it over six times and was 0-3 from deep again. I don’t know where his 3-point shot has gone, but I’d like to have it back. So Kevin Durant’s 3-point shot, please come back.
- Jeff Green had two fantastic dunks, but I feel like he’s got some blood on his hands for what happened on the glass. Carl Landry shouldn’t have 21 and 10 in 29 minutes. Green had 12 points and seven boards, but just couldn’t seem to take control in the paint. I love Uncle Jeff to death, but OKC really needed him and he just didn’t come up with anything.
- Aaron Brooks is a terrific late game player. He’s awesome on the pick and roll and he can get to the rim with ease.
- Sometimes it can really feel like OKC can score at will. Sometimes it seems like there is no way they can put the ball in the basket. I’m sure every NBA fan feels this at times with their team, but late in the fourth Sunday, it just felt like OKC really labored to find points.
- David Anderson just bothers me. Maybe it’s his face or the gelled hair or his unathletic game, but he annoys me. Or maybe it’s because he had 12 huge points and really hurt the team I call my favorite.
- I honestly don’t know if there is a better off-hand dunker than Jeff Green. He throws down lefthanded extremely well. It’s a skill.
- I thought Russell Westbrook was really good Sunday. 8-16 from the floor for 20 points, five assists, four turnovers and two blocks. He really kind of kept OKC alive in the second half. He hit some jumpers, got to he basket and created as much as he could. Aaron Brooks scored on him some late, but honestly, when Brooks gets going he’s tough for ANYBODY to defend.
Losing at home shouldn’t be acceptable, but this is really the first time the Thunder’s been shorthanded this year. Not an excuse because that’s life in the NBA, but you have to think a healthy Collison or Krstic would have helped make a difference. It’s a loss that stings because this homestand had potential to be big for the Thunder – and I guess it still can – but just the fact of why the team lost is what’s most bothersome. Houston is a workhorse team, but you just shouldn’t give up 23 offensive boards to a team that starts a 6’6 center. For some reason, OKC just can’t match Houston’s energy and effort. I don’t know why. Still though, a 9-8 November isn’t something I saw coming. And I’ll gladly take it.
Next up is the 76ers Wednesday night.