Maybe the Thunder just really wanted to finally give Kevin Durant a shot at that triple-double.
With three minutes left in the third, it looked like another night where Durant would hover around the three numbers only to sit the entire fourth because of a blowout. Instead, the Thunder let up, the Celtics went on a run and before you knew it, KD was playing the entire fourth.
This giving up a lead thing is becoming A Thing. After a monster first half that saw Oklahoma City score 72 points and build a 23-point lead, the Thunder slowly gave that lead away to the Celtics, allowing Boston to get it to six with three minutes left. It’s where it started though. Late third, OKC up big and the second unit comes in. Five turnovers follow and the Celtics go on a 10-2 run to close the third. Now it’s only a 14-point lead for the Thunder. Now it’s a game for the final 12 minutes.
Scott Brooks had enough of it too. After a second consecutive turnover from Reggie Jackson, Brooks immediately subbed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with 24 seconds left in the third.
“The turnovers. But it was a combination of all the players,” Brooks said. “I think everybody participated in giving the ball away. I was worried about the lead. I knew the game wasn’t over.”
Brooks, who is normally pretty snappy with the media, took much longer than usual coming in for his postgame availability. Obviously we can only speculate, but I’m thinking he had a strong message to deliver. When he sat down to address the media, he knocked over the microphone and deadpanned, “Like our second half. Turnover.”
It’s not really a huge deal when you win, but it’s a trend you don’t want to get in the habit of. And it’s becoming a recurring item since the Eric Maynor injury. The Thunder’s second unit just doesn’t have the same pop to it, which is fine, except when it isn’t. It’s a consistency thing. Because obviously, in the first half, it wasn’t a problem. But for whatever reason, those last three minutes of the third quarter seem to be. I don’t know if it’s a lapse in concentration or what, but again, you don’t want it to bite you.
As pretty as the first half was, the second half was ugly. First half, two turnovers, Second half, 12. First half, 8-12 from 3. Second half, 1-7. First half, 72-49 over the Celtics. Second half, 55-47, Celtics. Unlike the Hornets game where you really didn’t have to fear an actual comeback, Boston has the players to do it. Good for OKC Durant and Westbrook stepped up to close things out, otherwise we all might be a tad upset right now.
It’s really a shame the Thunder let this thing get close because I was pumped to write about the 30-3 run OKC had spanning the first and second quarter (or 21-0, if you prefer that). The Thunder started the game 1-10 from the floor and then made 25 of their next 36 shots to close the half. The Celtics, a team allowing just 87.5 points per game and ranked fourth in defensive efficiency, got lit up for 72 first half points on almost 60 percent shooting.
As Brooks said, “It was beautiful basketball in the first half.” Just not so much in the second. But if it just takes a half of good ball to beat good teams, I guess that says something, right?
- In the first half, where the Thunder scored a season-high 72 points and led Boston by 23, Westbrook took 10 shots to KD’s nine. Obviously this was a big problem.
- And it’s really too bad that Westbrook took two more for the game than Durant. That 15-point win could’ve been 50.
- At least the Celtics didn’t kill the offensive glass. They only had three tonight.
- While the Thunder were busy scoring 72 points in a fun, exciting first half, Bedlam was going on where Oklahoma State scored only 12. And you wonder why people don’t care much about college basketball in this state anymore.
- The Celtics were without Rajon Rondo who was serving a suspension and started a small lineup — Avery Bradley, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Mickael Pietrus and Kevin Garnett. Which led to Pierce and Ibaka guarding each other for a while.
- No Cole Aldrich for the Thunder. Obvious reason though: The Celtics really didn’t play any big guys with Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox out. The Thunder stayed small to match them the entire night, so there really just wasn’t much of a place for him.
- Somehow, in a half where OKC led by 23, Serge Ibaka was a -7 at halftime. (For reference, James Harden was +31). Overall, Ibaka did not have his finest game. He killed probably three Westbrook assists, one from Perk and two from KD. Either from dropping a pass, traveling after he caught it or bobbling it so that he was fouled before he put it.
- Perk was clearly energized to go against the Celtics and played a pretty nice game. He finished with 10 rebounds and dunked twice. He fouled out and picked up his 11th technical though, so not everything was wonderful.
- No turnovers in the first quarter. Not by coincidence, OKC scored a season high 35 in the first. Two turnovers in the first half where OKC scored a season-high 72. Twelve in the second half where OKC played poorly. Hmm.
- After KD spoke with the media, he walked out of the locker room and Ryan Reid was there and wanted to introduce his family to him. If that wasn’t sweet enough, Reid asked KD if he’d take a picture with his family which appeared to include mom, dad, grandpa and a brother or two. Even KD’s teammates are kind of like, “Whoa, KD.”
- Westbrook and Durant combined for 59 tonight. Which means the last three games, they’ve combined for 212 points, an average of 70.6 points per game.
- Daequan Cook tied his season high with 17 points. He’s been slumping lately but did go 3-8 from 3, which is acceptable. And his defense on Ray Allen was better than acceptable.
- James Harden returned from an ankle sprain and looked terrific — 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
- On that triple-double: KD appeared to be in striking distance territory late in the third as he had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He ended up playing the entire fourth finishing with 28-9-6.
- Royal Heisenberg Ivey was cooking up a batch of the blue, hitting 2-3 from 3.
- My goodness Paul Pierce draws a lot of fouls.
- KD was hit with a rare technical tonight. Thought he was fouled on a drive, and stayed around to make that point to Nick Buchert.
- Scott Brooks said normally during the All-Star break he goes snowboarding. “I’m addicted to it,” he said.
- Doc Rivers before the game on KD: “There’s never been a Kevin Durant. Ever. I don’t think. I don’t think there’s ever been a comparison. I really don’t. Unless you say George Gervin but five inches taller … In the years that I’ve coached and probably played too, I know coaching-wise there’s never been a more difficult guy to prepare for. Because you really feel like you’re wasting your time doing it. He’s going to probably score anyway.”
- Rivers on Perk: “Perk and I talk all the time. The best part about Perk is he’s always going to be frustrated. Really. That’s the best part of him. He cares so much and wants to do well and wants to do well for his team. When we won the title Perk wasn’t happy every day. He wants to do more, he wants to do better. He’s hard on himself and he’s hard on his teammates. And you don’t want that to ever change.”
- Rivers talked about how point guards now are more scorers now and how the new rules with no handchecking and such have helped. I asked him if buys into the whole having a “true point guard” thing: “I buy into players. If you’ve got true point, great. If you’ve got a point guard who can score and dominate the game that way, I’m taking that too. I don’t buy into one way. I don’t even buy into point guards or 2-guards — I buy into players. Give me three guards and I’d be very happy. You can call them what you want.”
- The halftime show was a dancing group called “Remote Kontrol.” I just didn’t get it.
- However, “Rumble Kontrol” was amazing. I definitely had a small chuckle to myself during it.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: I guess he kept it in check during this one, or everyone was watching ESPN.
Next up: Home against the Lakers Thursday.