A ho-hum 117-106 win over a 5-14 team shouldn’t feel important. It should feel like business. But these have been the type of games Oklahoma City has sleepwalked through. So it is important, but at the same time, it’s not. Make sense? The game never really felt in doubt and for 48 minutes the Thunder played well and didn’t looked flat at any time. I think that means they’re getting better. Right?
I don’t know who was the most important player tonight. Kevin Durant and his 33 points, five rebounds and three steals? Russell Westbrook and his new career high in assists (15) to just two turnovers? Or Nick Collison who was 8-9 from the floor with 18 points and seven rebounds in just 20 minutes? I don’t know who gets the gold star, but all three were key in tonight’s win.
But what was that one shot the Thunder kept making where you got three points instead of two? What is that thing? Durant kept making them (5-7 from 3), Jeff Green hit them (3-6) and even Mike Wilks nailed one. As a team, OKC hit 12-24 from deep. Good thing too because Philadelphia shot extremely well, hitting 50 percent from the floor and 14-23 from 3.
The major, most glaring difference in the box score came on the boards. OKC pulled down 18 offensive rebounds and outboarded Philly 43-29 overall. Having Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic back obviously helped. Nobody dominated the glass (Collison led with his seven), but the key was Samuel Dalembert led the Sixers with just six. OKC owned the glass and as a result, took 11 more shots.
I guess we could rag on the porous defense and note that Philly did shoot 50 percent, scored 106 points and at one point in the first quarter, scored on 11 straight possession. I guess we could mention that. But I choose not to because OKC won by 11 and really closed the game well, outscoring Philly 63-54 in the second half.
- Jeff Green was quietly excellent tonight. He had 19 on 8-16 shooting, pulled down six rebounds and dished out four assists. He didn’t exactly stand out, but he did his job, stood tall inside against Elton Brand who had just 13 points and five rebounds and played a really well rounded game. It’s kind of starting to look like as Jeff Green goes, so go the Thunder.
- How valuable is Collison? First minute in, hits a jumper, steals the ball, takes a charge. Boom, boom, bam. Then right after that, two offensive rebounds resulting in five Thunder points. The guy is just a gritty, tough player that does so many little things for this team. Good to have him back.
- Yep, Russell Westbrook went 1-11 from the floor. BUT, he had 15 assists to just two turnovers. This game really showed his maturity. Instead of pouting and forcing things, he deferred to his teammates and just became the quarterback. If you don’t think Westbrook will ever be a point guard, just bust the tape out from this game and you’ll see he has it in him. It’s just that every game is different and Westbrook plays each game according to the flow. And for that reason, you’ll sometimes love and hate him.
- Andre Iguodala scored 28 points on 8-15 shooting, but Iguodala had just 10 halfway through the fourth. Thabo locked him down when it mattered and was just disruptive defensively. He also shot the ball well (2-3 from 3, 12 points) and pulled down six rebounds.
- Nenad Krstic hurt his ankle late in the third and didn’t return. Oh please don’t be hurt Krispy.
- I have to mention this: After Iguodala hit a 3, Durant quickly responded with a trey of his own. Grant Long then said, “Durant says touche to Iguodala’s 3!” I’m not sure Grant knows exactly what “touche” means.
- Why’d you have to take that 3 Nick? WHY? Before that, you had a perfect line. 8-8 from the field, 2-2 from the line, no turnovers and 18 points. Then the ball found you with 20 seconds left in the game and two on the shot clock and you chucked it. I think Durant passed you the ball. It’s all his fault.
- Durant with another 44 minute game. That’s starting to worry me a bit. But he had two days off and has another day off.
- James Harden is pure silk. His no-look to Jeff Green on the break late in the fourth was beautiful. His feel is just incredible. Nine points and five rebounds for the rook.
- Keep in mind, the Sixers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, so OKC’s hot shooting night could be related to that. Nevertheless, it sure is nice seeing a 5-7 in the box score for KD from 3.
- Two games over .500 again, win No. 10 and now 5-4 at home. I am having fun.
There is honestly not a ton to say about this game because it felt so ordinary. It truly felt like a veteran team just taking care of an overwhelmed squad. How cool is it to say THAT? OKC never had the game in blowout territory, but there really weren’t any tense moments. I don’t want to say it, but this game was a little (gasp!)… boring. But boring in a very, very good way. I’d watch a game like this on a continuous loop over a 101-98 overtime loss. These are the games you must take care of if you want to actually push for .500 and beyond. And these are the games that showcase how much this team has grown up.
Next up is a big one against the Celtics Friday night.