It’s hard for a game to be over with a score of just 8-2 and nine minutes left in the first quarter, but Monday’s game against Detroit was done pretty much right then and there. The next 45 minutes were just window dressing.
Two plays in the first five minutes sealed the Pistons’ fate. First, Russell Westbrook blew past rookie Brandon Knight for a vicious Westbrook-style one-hand hammer. Second, Westbrook made maybe the pass of his young career, a left-handed behind-the-back fastbreak fish to Kevin Durant for an and-1.
“I’m naturally left handed you know,” Westbrook said. “[KD] was running with me and he was he was going to get the pass. He just didn’t know how.”
After that, it was really just a matter of what the final score would be and what everybody’s stats would look like.
I honestly don’t know if the extension has anything to do with it, but over the past two weeks Westbrook has looked so loose, confident and sure of every part of his game. He hasn’t had a double-digit assist game yet this year (six tonight), but it’s not really a bother considering how well the Thunder offense is cooking.
Watch that behind-the-back pass a couple times. The anticipation is just crazy. You have to have a serious feel and chemistry with a teammate to pull that off. Because Westbrook never really looked at KD. It was all telepathic. He just had to trust Durant would run on to the end of that pass, otherwise it would’ve been an ugly Russ turnover and everyone would groan. Instead he felt it, trusted his instincts and let it go. The result? Truly a beautiful, fantastic pass. Take that, Ricky Rubio.
Save for a minor run in the third quarter that saw the Pistons “cut” the Thunder’s lead to 21, this thing was on cruise control for about the last 36 minutes. The Thunder led 29-12 after the first quarter, 60-33 at the half and never really had to look in the rearview mirror. It was one of those games where you were really only paying attention just to make sure someone didn’t get hurt and for the eventual eight minutes of Cole Aldrich bumping into everyone, fouling everything and just being his usual hilariously awesome self.
Between Westbrook (24), Durant (20) and Harden (24), those three put up 68 points on 28-41 shooting with Harden hitting 5-6 from 3. And check this: Harden was a +32.
It was basically the ideal thumping of a good team whipping a bad one. The Thunder shot 53 percent to Detroit’s 34. The Thunder killed the glass, grabbing 51 rebounds to Detroit’s 38. A weird stat though is the Thunder turned it over 19 times to just nine for Detroit. And the Pistons took 27 free throws to just 14 for OKC. But when you make 13 more baskets than you opponent, and dominate the boards like that, you’re going to win and mostly likely, win big.
- Incredible sequence from Thabo: He stuffed Tayshaun Prince at the rim and then single-handidly stopped a 3-on-1 fastbreak right before halftime. Brooks: “Nothing Thabo does really surprises me anymore.”
- Fun out of context stat: Harden was a +32, Thabo a -1.
- Westbrook just completely abused Brandon Knight. Abused almost doesn’t do it justice. It was a complete manhandling. Westbrook whipped him off the dribble, took Knight to the post and just dominated the smaller point guard. Sometimes Westbrook can truly make you say wow. If that post game keeps coming, it could be something good for OKC in the future.
- For a while, it looked like this was going to be a rare game where the Thunder took more shots than their opponent, but the Pistons finished with five more attempts.
- Scott Brooks made the decision to use Perk on Greg Monroe and I’d say it worked. Monroe is Detroit’s best player and finished 3-14 from the floor with only 12 points. Brooks: “Perk is really a dominating low post defensive player.”
- What that allowed was for Ibaka to roam the paint a bit, because he was defending Ben Wallace. Ibaka had another solid game blocking five shots and grabbing 10 rebounds.
- Harden started 6-7, 4-4 from 3 and scored 18 points in his first 16 minutes on the floor.
- You can see that Harden really takes ownership of the second unit. In the second quarter, he pulled the bench group together and gave them a little talk. It’s his unit and he takes pride in leading them. You can tell that he really enjoys that role.
- Brooks: “We go into the game wanting to take 3s.” He talked about how he likes the offense to get rhythm 3s where there’s a “swing, swing and a shot.”
- I can’t get enough of how unselfish KD is playing. At one point in the third he was sitting on just 12 points and clearly wanted to put a few more points in the box score before sitting the entire fourth, but he still made two smart passes to open teammates when he could’ve taken a tough shot. A small thing, but a smart thing.
- Important note about Lawrence Frank’s tie: The skinny part underneath was longer than the main tie part and was hanging out. It’s hard to know if that was just a double-windsor mishap by him or had something to do with his short stature. He probably thought he had them completely level and could get away with it. Except once it came out of that little part that you tuck it into, there was no stopping the thin part from getting out.
- As much as Westbrook likes to dance, I’m waiting for the time he’s bringing the ball up and starts grooving to the beat that’s playing.
- Seems to me that Westbrook is short on almost all his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. I’m not entirely sure the cause of that, but I do think he rushes himself on them. He’s a much, much better shooter off the dribble.
- Nick Collison sprained his left ankle and didn’t play in the second half. He’s day to day but should be ready to go for the Thunder’s game Wednesday.
- Unimportant note: Just two Thunder players put their hand over their heart during the national anthem: Nick Collison and Lazar Hayward.
- The Thunder have allowed double-digit offensive rebounds in every game so far this season.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night via @ ThunderBDSays: “NASTY!!! NASTY!!! NASTY!!! BLOWING BY THREE DEFENDERS AT THE TOP UNMOLESTED TO THE RIM!!”
Next up: Home against the Hornets Wednesday.