We’ve been spoiled.
Most of the time when the Thunder win ugly, it’s just because they didn’t play a great game, didn’t shoot well or played bad defense but found a way to win. It doesn’t normally mean that the game was pretty much unwatchable.
We’re not used to the Thunder playing a game where you genuinely start thinking about how you could be better using your time. Really, what it was, was the Thunder should’ve been blowing the doors of the Nets and had things in cruise control for the fourth quarter but instead was in game where they had it under control, but never had it entirely put away for good.
Russell Westbrook was solid, Kevin Durant the same and everyone else fine, but nothing really stood out about this game. (Except for Serge Ibaka’s ridiculous block on Deron Williams.) The Thunder handled their business and beat a bad Nets team, as they should, but I think we all expected a bit more of a takedown considering the bad taste Oklahoma City had to deal with the past couple days from the Wizards loss.
Any time you win on the road, it’s a good thing and the reality is, the Thunder won by 10, played a very sound defensive game, rebounded decently (a plus nine on the glass, including 55 boards) and executed well enough offensively.
The Thunder sort of went through the same motions in the second half as they did in the Wizards game, except Nick Young wasn’t there to get hot for New Jersey. Had someone done that, this could’ve been a tighter finish. Instead, the Thunder were able to just sort of walk to the finish line getting stops and rebounds and scoring enough to keep a comfortable margin. Don’t expend too much energy when you don’t have to, I guess.
Most times, you kind of look for a hook to a game and this game was really missing one. I guess it was the Thunder’s defense that held New Jersey to 31 percent from the floor, 3-23 from 3, 74 points total and forced 16 turnovers. And it’s not that the Nets are a bad offensive team. They came in ranking in 11th in offensive efficiency, so they can score a bit. The Nets primarily do it with the 3 as they were tops in the league in made 3-pointers before tonight. Instead, OKC did a good job contesting everything and limited open looks for the Nets.
The season is long and sometimes you don’t look good, but the end result does. Nothing wrong with putting another tally in the win column. I think we all enjoy the exciting, fun brand of basketball the Thunder normally play with beautiful jumpers by Durant, lots of transition hoops and relentless pace from Westbrook, but wins are wins. I think we learned that Wednesday with a loss to the Wizards.
- First game after his extension, Westbrook was steady and smart. Took mostly good shots, made a bunch of really slick passes and his decision-making was sound. Nothing changed in his game. He had 21 points (but on 9-21 shooting), six assists, two steals and just three turnovers.
- Westbrook is such a dynamic offensive player with that jumper. It’s such a weapon. Still not a big fan of him taking it 1-on-4 with 18 on the shot clock. Except when it goes in. Then it’s cool.
- Rebounding looked to be an issue again early on with the Nets grabbing 10 offensive boards in the first half. They got just six in the second.
- KD had 15 rebounds. When OKC struggles rebounding, Durant normally comes down and gets much more aggressive on the glass. Great quality to have in him.
- He didn’t score well (six points), but I thought this was one of Serge Ibaka’s best games. He really had that energy in him finally we’re so used to. He was going after everything (five blocks), rebounding and busting it every possession. That’s what you want from Ibaka all the time.
- Nineteen turnovers and only 13 assists is not good.
- After KD finished a fast break dunk, he yelled, “NOT ON ME!” I don’t know what that really means, but it was awesome.
- Reggie Jackson has regressed a bit since his great debut. He hasn’t been bad by any means, but again, he’s certainly not going to give the Thunder the same steady production Eric Maynor did.
- He’s always been solid, but Westbrook really is becoming a great defender. He gambles and is a bit overeager at times, but he had a big hand in Deron Williams going 5-18 for only 14 points. He’s improved a bunch in pick-and-roll defense and does a great job staying disciplined when his man attacks.
- Is it just me, or does Daequan Cook seem to be better from 3 when his look isn’t very clean? Seems he shoots better when he’s NOT open.
- Also, not minutes for Cook in the second half, which was odd.
- KD missed four free throws. Don’t like that.
- James Harden (nine) and Thabo (eight) combined for 17 rebounds.
- Is that what it’s like to watch the Bulls all the time? Because if so, booooorrrrring.
- The Nets are horrible.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “This game is like the old Perils of Pauline! A thrill a minute!”
Next up: Monday at home against the Pistons.