You know how your team is having a good season? When losses like the one to Houston or the one at Sacramento really stick out to you. Teams lose, it happens. Nobody goes 82-0 (or 66-0). You can’t show up every single night ready to play and win.
But those two games are certainly ones we can agree that the Thunder should’ve won. Like in Houston, OKC missed its final nine shots, with Durant and Westbrook coming up empty on looks they’ve hit all season. Or in Sacramento where the Thunder just gave a game away, literally, by turning it over. Take those away and it’s an eight-game winning streak with three more at home this week.
But they lost them and those games revealed some flaws.
Now to the rankings:
1. Kevin Durant (Last week: 1)
Fifty-one. And not just 51, but on 28 shots. That’s silly, you guys. For the week, Durant was solid, scoring 21 against Utah, 33 against the Rockets in a loss and 23 against the Warriors. Had it not been for Sunday night, he probably would’ve fallen from this top spot, but 51 speaks for itself.
2. Russell Westbrook (Last week: 2)
It’s so like KD to trump Westbrook’s magical 40-point, nine-assist, two-turnover game with 51, but Russ might’ve been as good as he’s ever been. Don’t let the blowhards get to you raving about him taking one more shot than KD. Seven of Westbrook’s nine assists were to Durant and take special notice at the end of overtime. After Serge Ibaka records his 11th block and secures the ball, he frantically looks for someone to pass the ball to. Westbrook is literally standing a foot away, but when Ibaka turns to throw him the ball, Westbrook is pointing manically at KD. He wants Ibaka to give it to KD. He knows the Nuggets are going to foul and he knows KD is sitting on 49. This is with Westbrook sitting on 40, needing three more points himself to get to his career-high. Selfish guy that’s all in it for himself? I think not.
3. Serge Ibaka (Last week: 4)
You know what’s almost more impressive than Ibaka’s triple-double? The fact he was a +29 in an overtime game. And a game the Thunder trailed for a lot of. Via ESPN Stats and Info, the Nuggets shot 42 percent when Ibaka was in, compared to 68 percent when he was on the bench. He was so good that Scott Brooks employed a matador defensive strategy to let Denver’s scorers go to the rim. That’s confidence in your rim protector. That gives Ibaka three double-digit block games in February and he’s averaging 4.9 a game for the month. Oh, and he’s also averaging 8.9 rebounds and 9.7 points per game. No big.
4. James Harden (Last week: 3)
Two great games matched with two so-so ones. Harden was as good as you’ll see him against the Jazz, coming within a point of his career-high, scoring a Durant-esque 25 on 13 shots. But there’s no way around it: He kind of stunk offensively against the Nuggets. I say offensively because his defense late on Andre Miller was a major part of the Thunder’s win. But 2-12 from the floor for only 10 points, that’s why it took 91 combined points for the Thunder to beat a Denver team missing Gallinari and Nene. If Harden gives his usual production, it’s not that close.
5. Nick Collison (Last week: 6)
I think it says so much about Collison’s contributions that it’s a little challenging to know what to say about him here. Because the usual crap — great screens, charge-taking, good screen hedging, tipped rebounds — don’t really have the same zip to them as 51 points or a triple-double.
6. Kendrick Perkins (Last week: 5)
I have no problem defending Perk when I think he does well and saying so when he doesn’t This week wasn’t great for him. First, he missed a game. Second, he in the three games he played, he scored one point… total. The six-assist game was fun and he was tremendous on Al Jefferson, but he didn’t match up well in the Houston and Denver games, so his minutes were cut drastically. And he really didn’t have a place in the Warrior game either, so it wasn’t a big deal he sat. I’m starting to agree that maybe the Thunder are paying him too much to put up a point in week, but the Utah game drags you back to his value of defending the block.
7. Nazr Mohammed (Last week: 8)
Nazr Mohammed is back! Or, at least not playing dead anymore. His minutes were up this past week getting 18, 15, 17 and 10 the last four games and his production was better too. He started against the Warriors and put in some solid first unit minutes and his 10 minutes against Denver included a couple of nice tip-ins.
8. Daequan Cook (Last week: 7)
Counting his 1-9 shooting night from last week, Cook is 3-25 from 3 in his last five games.
9. Reggie Jackson (Last week: 9)
It’s the same story. The last three minutes of the third quarter are becoming a problem for the Thunder. That’s Jackson’s time with the offense and it’s just not consistently working. Scott Brooks may have to reconsider his rotation at that time and look to give Jackson more help. Maybe play Westbrook with him some. Maybe keep Durant in for the remainder of the third. Who knows. Jackson did have eigth assists against the Jazz, which is nice. And before playing a terrible game against the Nuggets, had 16 in the previous three games. He’s a rookie, remember?
10. Cole Aldrich (Last week: 10)
Cole was freed, if only for a brief moment. The verdict? Jury is still out. It’s hard to really get a feel for what he can bring when he got one shot at the rotation in a game he didn’t match up well with. He was active, crashed the glass like crazy and challenged shots. He wasn’t impressive, but it’s a lot to ask of a guy to blow you away with one 10-minute stint.
11. Royal Ivey (Last week: 11)
For a second there, it looked like the Thunder had found themselves a little gold on the end of the bench. Ivey drilled three 3s against Golden State and played some great defense in the Houston game, sparking the team. But then he went 0-4 against Denver and didn’t have nearly the impact. So maybe we should hold on thinking he’s part of the rotation.
12. Ryan Reid (Last week: N/A)
Reid showed off some nice stuff in garbage time against the Warriors hitting two jumpers. But it’s his mask that I’m intrigued by. It’s got like a beak for the nose. I’ve never seen one like that.
13. Lazar Hayward (Last week: 12)
Hayward got his face broken in the blowout win over the Warriors. Not fun.
Inactives: Eric Maynor, Thabo Sefolosha