The Thunder defeated CSKA Moscow Thursday 97-89 at home in Oklahoma City. The game really wasn’t ever close as CSKA made up a lot of the deficit in the fourth quarter.
While it wasn’t against NBA competition, the Russian team isn’t a pushover. They played the Heat well earlier this week and have some talented player. But still, a lot of this game should be remembered as played a non-NBA team. Some notes:
- The Thunder offense was great tonight. Except for one part. Twenty-four turnovers. That’s just, well, kind of ridiculous against CSKA Moscow. The biggest offender was Kevin Durant who gave it away seven times by himself. Russell Westbrook turned it four times, Eric Maynor four times and nine of the 12 players that saw action had at least one. A lot of Durant’s struggles with the ball came when he was running point where he turned it over three or four times there alone. He was forcing things a bit and had trouble handling with the shorter, quicker defenders.
- Again, other than that, it was good stuff. OKC shot 61 percent from the floor, hit 7-11 from 3 and got to the line. The Thunder hit just 16-26 from the stripe, but offensively, everything looked solid. Except for those turnovers.
- Durant canceled out an otherwise stellar all-around game with the seven turns too. KD finished with 20 points on 8-10 shooting, including 4-5 from deep. Durant had seven assists, five rebounds and two steals in 35 minutes. Durant played all over the floor and you can just tell he’s such a better passer. He sees things he used to not and has a feel for open spots. He tried to force things a bit too much both with the pass and off the dribble – hence the seven giveaways – but this is more encouraging than the alternative.
- I don’t believe Durant attempted a shot in the second half. You could tell he was focused on passing and distributing. That’s what these games are for and Durant was taking advantage of it.
- Serge Ibaka showed off how good he can be. When he’s locked in, he’s a game-changer. He got the start and played 27 minutes, putting 15 points on 6-10, grabbed six boards and swatted six shots.
- Cole Aldrich was extremely meh in 17 minutes. The biggest number in his line is six fouls, making two straight games Aldrich hasn’t been able to finish. Not a great thing.
- Russell Westbrook was mostly absent on the offensive end. He did a nice job breaking down the Moscow defense, but he was 0-6 with only three points. He drew a number of fouls on the Russian defenders and I think he grew a little frustrated with all the grabbing they had to do to keep him in front of them. I got the feeling he could get to the rim any time he wanted and he knew it so he hung back a little and worked on stuff, along with the rest of the team.
- Westbrook went with the bright orange arm sleeve. I found it slightly disorienting and distracting.
- OKC may have turned it 24 times, but the Russians gave it away 26. James Harden had five steals all to his own.
- Speaking of, Harden was decent. He didn’t force hardly anything offensively. Everything was in the flow as he went 3-4 for six points. He had five rebounds, five assists and the aforementioned five steals. A decent all-around game.
- Jeff Green was both good and mediocre tonight. Everyone but him had a double-digit plus/minus, but Green checked in plus-eight. He finished with 15 points on 5-8 shooting (5-10 from the free throw line though) and grabbed five rebounds. To put it in language you might understand, it was just a very Jeff Green kind of game.
- Morris Peterson let everyone know the bench specialist job isn’t all Daequan Cook’s yet. Peterson went 4-5 from the floor for nine points (1-2 from 3) and was a nice veteran scoring presence on the floor with the second unit. Cook didn’t play at all tonight, so Peterson had his chances.
- I continue to think Byron Mullens has a chance to be something. I’ll just leave it at that.
Again, nothing all the revolutionary from a very sloppy preseason game against a non-NBA opponent. But the game was played and the Thunder won it. There’s a little something to take, with one of those being that there’s only three more preseason games until the real thing.
Next up is San Antonio on the road Monday.