Some games, there’s just really nothing to get excited about. Or upset about. Some games really are just kind of meh. Or as Stringer Bell would put it, a 40 degree day. Ain’t nobody got nothing to say about a 40 degree day.
And that’s pretty much how the Thunder’s 102-87 wins over the Kings felt.
The Thunder played decent offense, decent defense, rebounded all right, everyone played relatively well and in the end, Oklahoma City beat a team that’s now 5-19 by 15 points. Wipe the hands and get ready for Sunday against the Suns.
Obviously one thing to mention is the 12 missed free throws. That’s uncommon. Thing is with this team and the way they shoot them is when they miss ONE, I’ll catch myself going, “Oh GEEZ. Come ON!” I just get used to them walking to the line and stroking them like they’re nothing. Yeah, they’re professional basketball players. But free throws aren’t easy. I play pickup a lot and I’m HORRIBLE at free throws when we shoot for teams. In my career shooting for teams, I’m probably like a 30 percent free throw shooter. So it’s kind of easy to take the charity stripe for granted. Tonight was an off night. Simple as that. Now if the Thunder would’ve lost by a bucket, we’d all be throwing things because of the misses.
And really, the free throw shooting kind of summed up the feel of the game. There was a general lack of focus and intensity throughout, but OKC was just enough keyed in to keep a bad team at arm’s length the entire game. The Thunder never completely put away the Kings, but the game was never close either.
- Give a gold star to Nick Collison for tonight. He was just terrific. His screens are seriously some of the best you’re ever going to see. He always makes great contact. He took two charges, stuffed the box score well (12 points, eight rebounds) and had a number of Collison-ish plays (or as I called them tonight, “Blue Collarson plays – clever, right?) where he would tip an offensive rebound out or get just a finger on the ball to keep the Kings off the offensive glass.
- It was needed too as Serge Ibaka got in foul trouble as he had issues with DeMarcus Cousins. Ibaka still had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, but Cousins muscled Ibaka a lot in the post and got him in foul trouble.
- Again, the Thunder bench overall was great. The unit of Maynor, Harden, Green, White and Collison again sparked two good runs for the Thunder. One in the second quarter and another to close the third. Maynor had his best game in weeks dishing out five assists. At times, it looked like he was running the offense better than Westbrook tonight.
- KD was solid with 24 points on 7-15 shooting. His mini-streak of 25 -point games is done at eight, but Durant didn’t need to be good scoring the ball. I thought he looked more confident with his handle in this game than he has all season. He was crossing over, going behind the back and even dropped off two no-look passes (one behind the back) during the game. Another good assist total from Durant too with five.
- All seven of Jeff Green’s 3-pointers were good, open looks. And when he hit his first one – on the seventh attempt – he had a look of “FINALLY” on him. Nine rebounds and five assists for Uncle Jeff. Another nice all-around game.
- Russell Westbrook with 21 points and six assists. I thought he really picked his spots well in this one. Felt the flow, made good decisions.
- Robert Yanders hit the big halfcourter last week that won him $20,000. And tonight, fans in the arena pretty much saw the opposite. The guy that tried probably airballed by 30 feet. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating. It was like he duffed a six-iron while also slicing it deep into the woods. Way short and WAY to the right.
- Harden went 3-10 from the floor and scored 11 points, but again looked confident and aggressive. Good sign.
- One thing I noticed in the locker room after the game that I just think is kind of funny was a couple players were looking over the box score and talking about it. I don’t know why that struck me as kind of funny/weird but we’re all so wrapped up in stats and how they did, it’s like we forget that they care a little about that stuff too.
- I continue to be a fan of what D.J. White adds. I hope he stays in the rotation when Nenad Krstic returns.
- The ball movement was again great overall. Four guys had five or more assists making a second straight game multiple players had big assist totals. Very encouraging.
The good news and probably the important thing is, the Thunder’s taking care of business on this homestand so far. Three wins by an average of 18.6 points is nice. A five-game win streak is nice. Five straight at home is nice. And a 19-8 record is definitely nice.
But the four-game homestand isn’t over. The Suns come in Sunday and are certainly looking for a win. The Thunder’s playing their best basketball of the season, but needs to take care of business again and protect the home floor. When the Suns show up Sunday night, the Thunder need to be on them like a 40 degree day.
Next up: The Suns Sunday at home.