Just to uphold tradition, the Thunder won their 9th game last season in GAME 43 on January 21st. How refreshing to win our 9th game in just 17 contests this season. Box Score.
We all know that ESPN decided to pick up this contest tonight because rookie Brandon Jennings is the big story so far this year. Ok, well, I guess the Thunder are “sort of” interesting being over .500 and all, with the second youngest roster in the NBA, and the top 5 scorer in the league, and a butt load of top 5 picks and yada yada yada. Whatever. It was all about Brandon Jennings and his 55 points the other night.
Mr. Jennings, I know you are sort of a rookie phenom, but I’d like to introduce you to one of last years rookie phenoms: Mr Westbrook!
Russell Westbrook is a carnivore! 20 points on 6/15 shooting; 7/8 from the line. 6 boards, 7 assists and only 2 turns and 1 personal foul while showing the rook a little something about playing point in the NBA. Hello young fella. Jennings in the mean time went 3/11 from the field (12 points), 1 board, 3 assists and 3 steals in 29 minutes. It was sublime to see RW dominate. But this game was about so much more than this little matchup. This game to me was about efficient offense and solid defense.
The Thunder repeatedly got to the rim and the Bucks jacked up jumpshots. Plain and simple. How nice to see some OTHER team fall into the trap of settling for jumpers. We are usually the guilty ones. Tonight the Thunder got to the rim and got to the line and as basketball fans we know that one thing usually leads to another. The Thunder attempted 35 free thow attempts and the Bucks attempted only 22. The Thunder also dominated a slender and skinny Bucks front line to the tune of a +12 rebounding advantage. (Note: shameless plug for Daily Thunder T-shirts)
The two teams looked pretty evenly matched in the first half. The Bucks were nails from downtown hitting 6/13 and had just a 1 point deficit at the half at 50-51. But it all changed in the third. When the outside jumpers don’t fall what do you do? Well, if your the Bucks (or the Thunder quite frequently, but thankfully not tonight) you just keep jacking them up right? The Bucks opened the third up shooting 0-12. The Thunder lit them up for a 15-0 run and began to put the thing away. The Bucks only managed 13 points in that 3rd quarter. But they did get themselves a little more squared away pulling to within 10 points at 74-84. Coach Brooks began matching them with a small ball lineup of Westbrook, Harden, Sefolosha, Durant and Green which opened the game up for good.
- It was interesting how Coach Skiles pulled Brandon Jennings early in the first quarter and again early in the third. My thinking was to perhaps get Brandon Jennings back into the game just about the time our first day PG Mike Wilks had to spell Russell. It was certainly obvious that BJ couldn’t stop RW from getting to the cup, but do you think Luke Ridnour could?
- Sefolosha did a lot of nice things tonight but again I want to single him out for CRUSHING another premier scorer in the NBA (it’s getting to be a pretty common occurrence). Mike Redd was 3/9 and -20.
- Milwaukee showed a strong side zone in the first quarter, much like the Lakers use. They double up the ball handler if he is a dangerous scorer (Durant) and then zone up the rest of the court. I think it has a better chance of working if you aren’t using a three guard lineup.
- I need to give a little notoriety to James Harden. Jon Barry had obviously not seen much of Harden this year because he kept sort of laughing and jesting about how “allegedly” he’s some sort of facilitator and not just a scorer. Tonight he was all scorer and I am fine with that. JH needs to keep stroking that three when it’s open and take his man off the dribble. He is on the second unit right now mostly because the second unit needs scoring. He’s getting it done. 15 points on 6/7 shooting. Fear the beard! I think Mrs. Daily Thunder’s shirt (below) is echoing that sentiment.
- I’ve been keen on Brandon Jennings this year even just before the 55 point outburst. I’ve seen him play about 5 or 6 times and I have to say that tonight was probably his least exciting game so far. Not that he was terrible, just that he didn’t really do anything spectacular.
- Jeff Green actually got somebody to bite on his up fake for probably the first time this season. Of course it was only Ersan Ilyasova, but it’s a start.
- It looked like an old Sonic player reunion with Collison (street clothes), Ridnour, Durant, Green, Kurt Thomas, Francisco Elson and Mike Wilks.
- I think that Presti and Clay Bennett should just open up the checkbook and make Kevin Calabro an offer he can’t refuse to come down to OKC and be the voice of the Thunder. He was the voice of the Sonics for 21 years and he is the best of the best. Blow him away. Drop 7 figures and stop diddling around with Brian Davis. Jon Barry was very good as well. I especially liked how Calabro didn’t have need for a sideline reporter (don’t the Thunder use two of them?), he just went up and used his cred to get a word with Scott Skiles and Scotty Brooks. Calabro was calling games when both coaches were still in high school.
- How about that offensive rebound and putback slam by Durant on that miss by Westbrook. He put that thing down baby!
- Will somebody please tell me how Ersan Ilyasova had 6 Orebs and 12 boards? Are you kidding me?
- Serge Iblaka had the quietest 7 rebounds ever.