It was pretty obvious from the tip that this was going to be a good night for the Thunder. Tyreke Evans was a late scratch for the Kings, the first play of the game was a dunk for Russell Westbrook and within minutes, Oklahoma City led 17-4.
They were trying to wash their hands of Sunday’s game against the Warriors. I don’t know if all the dirt is off, but I certainly feel a bit cleaner.
The Thunder completely dominated from the start, blowing past the undermanned Kings 126-96. And what was kind of neat but at the same time sad, was that this was despite a horrid shooting night for Kevin Durant. KD was just 5-18 from the field for 17 points and don’t think for a second the Kings played some kind of fantastic defense on him. He just missed shots that he makes, well, almost all the time.
I’m sure if you had told the Kings that Durant and Westbrook would combine for just 27 points total — this being the highest scoring duo in the league — that they’d feel pretty good about at least hanging in. But the Thunder’s role players stepped up in a big way. Jeff Green had a fantastic first half and finished with 16 on 7-9 shooting. Daequan Cook hit five 3s off the bench and had a game-high 20. Nenad Krstic played a great third quarter, finishing with 16 on 7-10. Thabo had nine, James Harden 12, Serge Ibaka 15 and Eric Mayor seven. Across the board there was production. Every single player finished as a plus.
The game was really never close. Even at 2-0, it looked like a total mismatch. The Kings desperately needed Evans and with pretty much everyone on the Thunder roster playing well, they just didn’t have a chance. This is exactly the feeling you want going into the All-Star break.
The game was too much of a laugher to really get much out of it because the Thunder overpowered the Kings in basically every department. OKC shot over 50 percent, won the boards, turned it over only 11 times, played solid defense and just executed well.
- How good is the Thunder bench right now? The starters controlled the game early, storming to a 37-24 first quarter, but the second unit is really what turned this to a blowout. Also, an interesting move by Brooks to get Daequan Cook some minutes. Instead of going with the normal Maynor, Harden, Green, Ibaka, Collison group, Cook played small forward instead of Green. I like it a lot. Cuts down minutes, plus it’s a creative way to play Cook, who deserves some minutes.
- You could tell KD was determined to make some shots. He was just 1-8 from 3, but never shied from taking one. He was open every time and almost looked confused at why they weren’t dropping. When he hit his first 3, he gave a big “finally” gesture. It was basically the opposite of the Jordan Shrug.
- Jeff Green and James Harden busted out mohawks. I’m a fan. And they both played nice games. COINCIDENCE QUESTION MARK? Maybe this will be like a team unity thing. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight because I’m so giddy thinking about a Nenad Krstic mohawk.
- Speaking of, how about the full Nenad arsenal in the third? Jumpers, post-ups, hook shots. He did it all. The guy can play some offense.
- Jeff Green was having some serious fun. After he hit a 3 in the third quarter, he was skipping up the floor joking with Russell Westbrook. It warmed my heart.
- Props to DeMarcus Cousins. The guy worked all night and looked focused. I’m sure it was a bit awkward for him, but he plowed through. Commendable.
- The Thunder’s 68 points at halftime were a season high.
- Westbrook was quietly excellent, dishing out 11 assists to just two turns. Nice bounce back after some careless games the past couple.
- Serge Ibaka has had a block in 26 straight games. He had four tonight. Plus 15 points and eight rebounds. Really nice game.
- Nights like this is where I really wish Cole Aldrich would’ve been active. I’m just dying to see more of the guy.
- Maybe the best show of the night wasn’t OKC’s high-flying act on the floor, but the halftime show. It was military appreciation night and for halftime, some Air Force drill team did an M-1 Garand gun flip thing. It was awesome. Sure beats Zumba, let me tell you.
- The Brian Davis line of the night, via Mrs. DT: “Like a good neighbor, Nenad is there.”
Next up: All-Star Weekend.