I had about 30 ideas for what to name this recap from “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” to “The Missing Piece: Exhibit A” all the way to “Fumigating the Pepsi Center” and “Wait, is this March 2010 or 2009?”
You get the picture.
This was in no way a pretty or enjoyable game and to be honest, I am now 0-2 in 2010 on recaps so if you all want to sign a petition to ban me from doing recaps of games where the Thunder are not heavy favorites, I understand. In fact, you could very easily argue that this was two games wrapped into one so I might even be 0-3. The first game took place from the tip-off to about midway through the third quarter and the second one was the glorified scrimmage from the third quarter until the merciful horn that ended the game.
So let me recap both games for you. In the first five minutes of the game I counted 3 assists that Westbrook should have received after pretty tremendous passes into the post that resulted in one blown layup after another. It was at this point that the theme of the evening first winked at me. Immediately, the Nuggets ran down the court, Nene got tremendous position in the post and just literally overpowered Krstic and whoever else the Thunder tried to throw at him for an easy dunk. Rinse and repeat. About 25 more times. That was pretty much the way that first game within the game went. The Denver Nuggets absolutely OBLITERATED the Thunder in the post.
In fact, an all caps obliterated might still not be emphatic enough. They OBLITESTROYMOLISHED the Thunder down low to the tune of FIFTY points in the paint. Yes, that’s right, a five followed by a zero.
For everyone who says “I’m not so sure the Thunder need a post presence” or “the Thunder aren’t really missing a big man down low” I’m going to somehow find you, kindly thank you for reading the DT and then proceed to sit you down in front of a giant screen and run this game continuously over and over and over again until you scream out, “I understand! I un-der-stand!” Why? Because this game pretty much encapsulated every single reason why that missing piece down low is literally The Missing Piece.
The Thunder struggled from the floor as their jumpshots weren’t falling, shooting an atrocious 32.5% from the field. Enter the Missing Piece, who can get higher percentage shots down low and create easy buckets. Durant and Westbrook found themselves doubled and sometimes even tripled as the offense goes stagnant without any open shots. Enter the Missing Piece, who upon receiving the ball down low either explodes for an easy finish at the rim or when he immediately commands a double team from his deep post position, bam! he passes to a now wide open Durant for an easy 15 footer (Nene and Melo did this for about, oh, the entire first half).
None of the Thunder starters played particularly well as it was definitely one of those games. The vaunted Thunder defense gave up 119 points, 50 points in the paint and 30 assists. You read that correctly, 30 assists. When Anthony Carter racks up 12 assists on your team, there’s really nothing more to say than “Whew, you guys better flush that one down fast.” When a game like this happens you welcome the plane trip out of Denver and can only hope that the team takes out this game’s frustration on the Clippers Friday night.
The second game within the game was, how do you say, proof about why those players only see extended time when someone is up by 40. Horrible execution, passes sailing out of bounds, air ball upon air ball with the regulars who were somehow forced to stay in the game pretty much taking over and, thankfully, reducing a 40 point deficit to 29 at the end. That being said, not all was lost with the Thunder down 40 and I’d like to dedicate the bullets below to my “This is what happens when the Thunder get down by 40” section.
- Hey, it’s Johan Petro! He’s actually in the game. You know how Jeff Foxworthy made an entire career with, “If you blah-blah-blah, you might be a redneck,” well all I could think of was, “If your crowd is chanting for Renaldo Balkman to bomb three’s and Johan Petro picks up 3 fouls in what felt like 30 seconds (and is even in the game), then somebody might be down by 40.”
- Brian Davis and Grant Long waxed poetically about the finer points of horse racing and whether or not a horse that has de-jockeyed itself can legally finish a race. Yes, this was an actual three minute discussion ON AIR as the game wound down in the fourth, but you know what, it was the most entertained I was for the entire second half so go on Brian Davis, wow me with your tales of jockeyless horses frantically galloping across the Remington Park plains.
- Okay, so we’re all familiar with Royce’s absolute hatred of the Cox commercial where the guy installs the cable box and the little mutant Digi creatures take off their shoe booty and steal the little boy’s action figure and parachute it off of the roof much to the boy’s delight. Well by about the fifth viewing of the commercial by the fourth quarter, I couldn’t keep my mind from imagining the strings snapping on the parachuting toy and the action figure plummeting down to the concrete patio, with the arms and legs snapping off on the violent impact as the little boy screams in sheer horror and runs away.
- What? Why are you looking at the screen like that? They were down by 40, what else was I going to ponder about at the fifteen hundredth “You’re a friend” viewing?
- If James Harden suddenly starts looking to pass the ball again while he’s driving to the hoop instead of having on his “I’m only going to shoot on this drive no matter what” blinders while he slashes to the rim, then apparently somebody might be down by 40.
- Did the refs know how excruciating the fourth quarter of this game was and just got a kick out of elongating the torture that was this debacle? Weren’t there like three hundred whistles on ticky-tack fouls in the last 10 minutes? Have some mercy, refs.
- Hey, it’s Etan Thomas! Hey-oh, Oh No. So that’s why Serge has gobbled up all his minutes.
Oh, and one more thing, this only counts as one game. It’s done and over. As soon as I finish this recap I’m going to take a shower because I somehow feel infected by the stink that was this game and I will return to the reality that every NBA team lays one enormous egg during an 82 game season and the Thunder still sit in sixth place in the West and now know exactly how it feels to be embarrassed by a team who’s been to the playoffs and expects to compete for a championship.
Bring on the Clips.
…though I’ll probably let Royce recap that one.