With the way the game started, I really didn’t see a 15-point blowout happening. Russell Westbrook turned the ball over on the first two possessions. New Orleans jumped out to an 11-2 lead as David West started 6-6 from the floor. By all appearances, this was going to be an ugly game. The crowd was quiet, the Thunder was coasting a bit through the first 15 minutes and they were turning the ball over.
And then Emeka Okafor stepped to the free throw line.
New Orleans trailed by just five minutes before halftime. Okafor caught all air with his first attempt. The crowd responded with a cheer. Okafor gathered himself, took a deep breath and proceeded to airball his second attempt. The Ford Center exploded. Following the second empty attempt, the Thunder went on to outscore NOLA 54-44, running away with it, 98-83.
Russell Westbrook flirted with another triple-double tonight, finishing with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Kevin Durant scored 29 on 11-19 shooting. Jeff Green scored 10 points and had nine rebounds. The team shot 47 percent, outrebounded the Hornets by nine and allowed just 83 points en route to win No. 20 at home. Wipe off the hands, pack up the lunch pail and go home and kiss your wife. Another day at the office, kids.
The one not so excellent thing was James Harden went to the locker room early in the fourth quarter. Reports are a strained right hamstring that he sustained late in the second quarter after an awkward fall. The way it looked, I think he’s going to be fine. Just a little tweak.
- The Hornets were just 14-43 from the floor with eight turnovers after halftime.
- We saw D.J. White for the first time in a couple months. White looked good in four minutes, scoring five points on 2-4 shooting. His midrange game is just pure.
- Harden started the game out with a white headband. For whatever reason, he switched to his usual black band at the beginning of the second quarter. In the first, Harden had zero points on 0-1 shooting. After that with the black headband, Harden scored six points, all in the second quarter.
- The Thunder could not get a shot at the rim to drop in the first quarter. I counted five misses at the iron. Durant missed two and after rimming out an and-1 chance, he was visibly frustrated.
- KD took 10 shots in the first quarter and scored 11 points. So for the rest of the game he took nine shots and scored 18.
- OKC is 21-3 when Nenad Krstic scores 10.
- David West was pretty unstoppable tonight. He had 33 on 14-22 shooting. Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison had issues with his back down, fadeaway jumper move. He’s a tough guard when that jumpshot is falling.
- I think it’s a conscious thing that Durant doesn’t chuck buzzer-beating halfcourters. At the end of the third tonight, it was pretty clear he waited until after the horn went off to chuck it. Is he that concerned about his percentages? I don’t blame him. I would be.
- Hey man you’re a friend you know… where you’ve been or where you go…/stabs foot with a steak knife
- Serge Ibaka with 12 points and nine rebounds. Another impressive game from Chewie, but how about the 4-4 from the free throw line. That’s a great sign.
- Only two Thunder players were a minus for the game: White and Eric Maynor.
- The game was played at an extremely slow pace of 89.0. But OKC finished with a 110.1 offensive efficiency rating compared to 93.3 for NOLA.
Not else much to say about this game. It was tight, it was neat and that third quarter was fun. OKC wins the season series over New Orleans and even though there’s really no fear of it, the Thunder has the tiebreaker. Oklahoma City is 15 games over .500, winners of six of seven and have a very good shot at win No. 40 Friday night at home against New Jersey.
Next up: Home against the Nets Friday.