Thirty-seven. Thirty-six. Thirty-five. Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-one. Thirty-one.
Those are some of the first-quarter scores the Thunder has allowed just since the beginning of this year. There were a couple of good efforts sprinkled in there as well, like a 19-point New Orleans first quarter, but Oklahoma’s defense early in the game has been abysmal about as often as not for much of the season.
Thankfully, the coaches and players are at least aware of it. It’s troubling that they’re not really doing much about it, at least right now, but I continue to think that because the Thunder at least chides itself for its bad defense out of the gate and often follows it with stellar fourth-quarter defending, there will come a time, hopefully in April, when it starts playing 48 minutes of defense.
But it got me to thinking: There can’t be much out there that’s worse than OKC’s defensive effort in the first quarter, but what is? Here are a few things, in no particular order.
I know there are a few Daily Thunder readers from Australia out there, and they may be outraged at this point. But I’m sorry. Vegemite is horrible.
Here in the U.S., we spread tasty, fatty things on our breakfast breads: butter, jam, apple butter in the South, maybe some cream cheese for a bagel, honey and possibly peanut butter. I don’t really think you can argue with any of these things as a part of a delicious breakfast.
But Australians are crazy with their Vegemite nonsense. It’s a brown, salty, bitter paste. I mean, doesn’t that sound like what you want for breakfast? Sure, coffee is a little bitter and definitely brown, but it doesn’t look like you’re spreading you-kn0w-what on your toast like Vegemite does. I tried Vegemite when I went to Australia in high school and made the same face I made after Utah scored 37 on the Thunder in the first quarter. Take my advice: If you Americans ever go to Australia, don’t try Vegemite. There are many wonderful things about that fascinating country, but Vegemite is not one of them.
The Ronnie and Sammi plot line on Jersey Shore
They’re fighting. They’re not. They broke up. They’re back together again. They’re throwing stuff at each other. They’re swearing at each other. They’re calling each other “bro” whilst fighting. They’re fighting again. They’re not again.
Jersey Shore is a guilty pleasure of mine that I was never ashamed of until it refused to let go of the Ronnie and Sammi saga. Now I can barely watch it. Not everyone watches this particular trash TV show, so I’ll keep it short. But I’ll wager that most of you who do are nodding your heads right now. Ronnie and Sammi need to go.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
Just kidding. The Thunder’s defense in the first quarter is way better than the Cavs. Sorry, Cleveland.
OK, so the guy is a good basketball player. He played at an all-star level there for awhile when he was with the Suns. He was good enough to be included as the centerpiece of a trade package for Shaq. And his jump shot falls often enough. But oh, boy, is it ugly.
It definitely didn’t pass the Mrs. Patrick James Test. We were fortunate enough to have very good seats the last time the Mavericks came to town (and beat the Thunder), and she watched Marion shoot it a couple of times before she turned and asked me, “What’s that guy’s problem? Is he hurt?”
No, he’s not hurt, he just shoots like a sixth-grader using the regulation-sized ball while he plays intramurals with the eighth-graders. It’s cringe-worthy.
Instant Egypt experts on Facebook
One of my least favorite things about Facebook is that people use it as a platform to try to prove how worldly and smart they are, especially when they’re neither. The last couple of weeks with the turmoil in Egypt have brought these people out at their worst.
There are basically two camps. One is the group of people who probably thought Mubarak was a crappy club in Los Angeles that no one goes to, and the other group is made up of people who probably know who Mubarak is and are generally smart, but have devoted hardly any time to learning about the complexities of Egyptian politics and think they’re experts now anyway with opinions that ought to sway their friends. Either way, don’t pretend that you know who the next leader of Egypt should be just because you read about the protests on CNN.com for a couple of days.
I long for the days when Facebook was just a place where you argued about sports, stalked hot chicks (and hoped they stalked you) and hoped your friends wouldn’t post embarrassing pictures of you from college. I guess it still is that to a large degree, so maybe I just need to cleanse my friends list of know-it-all’s who obviously don’t know as much as me. Because I’m smarter than them and my opinion matters more. Geez, I thought everyone knew that already.
The Sooners have shown some fight in the last month … but that sound you heard was me and Royce pretending OU basketball doesn’t exist. Yes, mental efforts of such magnitude actually make a sound. Spring football is just around the corner!
The Thunder’s execution on last-second shots
Raise your hand if you were surprised when the Thunder didn’t get a bucket when it had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation Tuesday agaist Memphis. No one? No one.
This is another thing that’s going to have to get better in April if Oklahoma City wants to make any noise. There will be close games played in the playoffs, and the Thunder is more than likely going to have the ball with a chance to win or tie as the clock winds down, and the season could either go on or die with the result of the play. OKC has done well, despite the Memphis result, in close games, but it’s no secret that the Thunder can barely get off a good look at the buzzer. Even Kevin Durant’s winner against the Knicks was a tough shot that just happened to go in.
Maybe Oklahoma City is just holding back on the good stuff for the playoffs. Maybe a bunch of youngsters and a young coach just haven’t been able to figure out how to get the ball into a player’s hands with a good chance to score late in the game. Maybe it’s the kind of thing that will get better with more reps and more maturity. But it’s as evident as ever that the Thunder is on the cusp of contention now, not later, and this is a piece of the puzzle that has to fit if OKC is going to make a run. I’m still a patient guy, so I’m not going to throw a fit if it takes another season or two before Oklahoma City is truly an elite NBA team. But sooner or later, the late-game offensive execution has to come together if the Thunder is going to be for real.
Oklahoma snow drivers
Is it me, or does it seem like just about everyone around here drives 20 mph too fast or 10 mph too slow for the snowy conditions of the last two weeks? And how is it that you see some stranded cars about 15 feet of the roads in some places?
I got rear-ended in my own neighborhood, although thankfully no one (and neither car) was hurt. I’ve watched news footage of people in their little rear-wheel drive sports coupes spinning their wheels in a drift. Sure, that may be the only car that person had, but couldn’t you find a friend to hitch a ride with when you have the worst possible vehicle for driving in the snow? And if you don’t have friends, couldn’t you use a vacation day and stay home? And then lots of folks can be seen walking around their stuck car in a thin jacket and crappy shoes, as if they had no way to know that every media outlet was relentlessly reporting officials’ pleas to remember that the temperatures are dangerously cold, so it’s important to be properly equipped if you get stuck.
Thankfully, this is Oklahoma, so good Samaritans were all over the place freeing the stuck cars and helping people out. But remember, you can’t save everybody.
There have to be at least a few more things that are worse than the Thunder’s first-quarter defense. Go ahead and start your own list in the comments section.