After one quarter, it was looking like we had a total grind on our hands. The Thunder turned the ball over six times in the first 12 minutes, shot right at 40 percent and struggled their way to 24 points. It was one of the ugliest quarters in weeks. I think we all started having flashbacks of three overtimes.
Things quickly turned around in the second quarter though. One big difference between this game and the last one? Kevin Durant. Having him helps. Some. Well, a lot.
But what really sparked the Thunder into the blowout was they started playing defense, forcing the Nets into long jumpers, which led to long rebounds which led to transition opportunities. Plus, OKC pressed the Nets into 15 first half turnovers which helped the running game. It was really another bench sparked event, led by James Harden who nine in the second quarter and really kicked the Thunder into gear.
After things got settled down and OKC started playing, the Thunder cruised on. Kevin Durant poured in 27 points on 11-19 shooting in only three quarters. Russell Westbrook had 17 and seven assists in just three quarters. The Thunder led by 18 going into the fourth and the bench did its job, extending the cushion out to 25, meaning the starters got a good long rest.
It’s exactly what you wanted to see out of this team following up the disappointing fourth quarter against the Mavericks. The Nets aren’t good. Not at all, really. But having the luxury of your starters sitting the last quarter is good, no matter who you’re playing.
- Is it just me or has KD hit his first shot like in the last 10 straight games? I love it when that happens. It calms me down for some reason.
- The Thunder shared the ball wonderfully again in this game. In the first half, seven players had at least one assist (via @colemanramsey) and for the game, OKC finished with 31 assists total.
- OKC turned it over 10 times in the first half but got things under control in the second, flipping it just five times. Most of those came in the fourth with the second unit too.
- James Harden runs the pick-and-roll as good as any player OKC has. He times the pick so well, is patient but doesn’t wait too long. Plus he has that low drag which always clears him space in the lane.
- Harden was really the big difference in sparking OKC’s run. In December, he’s averaging over 14 points a game on 45 percent shooting and almost 40 percent from 3. I really think it’s time he gets at least a little chatter for Sixth Man of the Year. I’m serious.
- I could be wrong, but it seems like after every Jeff Green pump fake, he goes right. Just a random observation.
- A conversation I was having with someone tonight after Russell Westbrook took his 500th huge tumble of the season – at some point, he’s going to die. The fact he has played in every game so far in his professional career is unreal. The guy is built like a brick — seriously, he’s one big muscle — but he just flies so recklessly around. Of course I pray it never, ever, ever, ever happens, but I fear the day he lands wrong.
- OKC went just 18-27 from the free throw line tonight. I blame Lee Jenkins.
- Bill Simmons was in the house tonight. I don’t know why because he left right at the buzzer and I didn’t have a chance to talk to him. But it was definitely cool seeing him in OKC.
- How about that Westbrook end-to-end dunk to finish the half? Avery Johnson said after the game that he showed the Nets that play at halftime.
- New Jersey finished with 23 turnovers for the night.
- Avery Johnson is one of the best in the business with the media. So likable. I couldn’t be more impressed with him.
- Nenad Krstic was a big part of the third quarter dropping all 10 of his points there. KD talked after the game about how the team needs to look to Krstic a little more in the post.
- Remember Johan Petro? Wasn’t too long ago when he was playing for us, was it? Oh, how far we’ve come.
- Sometimes, Serge Ibaka shows off how scary awesome he can be. He has a post game that’s pretty solid to go with the jumper and the high-flying stuff. I can’t wait until he figures out how good he can be.
- OKC is now 10-1 after a loss.
Next up: The Hawks at home Friday night.