The Thunder did what they needed to do tonight in protecting the home court and beating a team that they are supposed to beat.
It had the makings of a snooze of a game with each team sort of just playing “quiet” if you know what I mean. Neither team seemed to make much headway or make a big run until the third quarter. Finally the Thunder got their game on and dropped 34 on the Pacers who started to look tired in their back to back effort. In that quarter the Thunder shot 13/21 (62%) and finished it up with a comfortable 13 point lead.
I was sort of taking notes and I wrote ” Pacers seem like they are going through the motions; dispassionate–like they don’t want to be here“.
Then the fourth quarter happened and the thing got interesting. A.J.Price, probably the last guy you would expect on an offensively loaded Pacers team, dropped 19 4th quarter points going 7/10 including three-3 pointers to open things up and get the score within 1.
But as I said, the Thunder did what needed to be done and made some stops and hit some buckets and got the W.
It was also the first time that we got a look at Lord Byron B.J. Byron Mullens our other first round pick Mullens. I got a couple of chances to see him in summer league and thought he looked like a serious project. Tonight I saw a mixed bag. He definitely had some positives and some things he brings to the table that the Thunder currently don’t have anyone else offering. The obvious one is size. Krstic is our biggest player listed at 7′-0″, but he is short armed and average at best athletically. Mullens measured out at 7′-1 1/4″ at the combine and Scotty Brooks said he’s a legit 7-2″ at summer league. He did some work on Roy Hibbert who is supposed to be 7′-2″ and he looked in the ball park. He also looked fairly athletic. The time he’s spending down in Tulsa is helping. He made a couple of decent plays defensively. In the picture above Mullens was sliding his feet good enough to contest the A.J.Price drive well enough to bother him on his shot and cause a miss. He also defended Hibbert in the post and caused a miss. He failed to box out a time or two, and he looked unsure about when to help and when to stay home, but there is a foundation to work with defensively. He’s not a stiff. Having watched Robert Swift from day one I can tell you what a stiff looks like.
He also nailed two long jumpers pretty as can be. He’s a natural jumpshooter. We all know Sam Presti loves his pick and pop guys. I think my early impression of Mullens might be that he could hopefully, possibly develop into a Brad Miller type of player-a two way guy who can be a little nasty at times in the paint but hit shots in the high post. A late first rounder is looking like a decent return at this point.
- A quick peek at the advanced box shows that the Pacers were 0-7 in the 10-15 foot range. That’s Thabo territory. Thabo did another nice job on a top shelf scorer Danny Granger. He was on him most of the night and he was 6/21. He used 21 shots to get 25 points.
- Mullens had just 3 boards in 7 minutes, but that works out to a stellar 23% total rebound rate (35% offensive rebound rate).
- Russell Westbrook had a very complete game. 8/16, 9 boards, 6 assists and 18 points. He did have 5 turns but I’m not going to quibble. He hit two nice back to back stop and pops. I don’t remember him hitting those last year.
- Once again, the number 2 team in the NBA in free throw shooting was bricking freebies. Leaving 11 free points on the board should be a felony.
- From Darnell Mayberry’s in game tweet: Earl Watson becomes the first ever former player in Oklahoma City’s NBA history to get booed during pre game intros.
- Collison blocked Dunleavy twice under the basket on the same possession.
- The Pacers average 21 three attempts per game, 5th most in the association. Tonight the went for 26 and made 10 (39%).
- I need to take a line and acknowledge the original voice of the Sonics Bob Blackburn who died earlier this week. He did the radio broadcasts for the team from 1969-1992. I spent many an hour listening to him call games with a little transistor AM radio I had hidden under my pillow back in junior high when my parents sent me to bed before the game was over. Bob was good.
- Jeff Green has really been hitting that drive and finger roll off the right side of the glass.
- I’d like to see a bit of Mullens and Ibaka in the same front court. I’m imagining it might be really nasty in a year or two.
- For whatever reason the starters have been in the negative a whole lot on the raw +/- while the second unit has been making runs. Just the opposite tonight. Mullens was the only positive bench player.
- Does anybody else think Mullens hair looks like his stylist put a bowl on his head as a template when cutting it?
- I liked the lineup Brooks used down the stretch with the game tight: Westbrook, Harden, Sefolosha, Durant and Green. Four shooters and a nasty lock down defender who has handles.