For a minute, it looked like the Thunder might be in for a game.
And then they tipped off.
OK, that’s not entirely fair. The score after a quarter was 28-25, and the Bobcats appeared to be somewhat competitive. But a 30-15 second quarter that saw the Thunder score 58 at the half with 55 coming from Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden essentially put this one away early. As it should’ve been.
The Thunder obviously wanted to wash the strain of Friday’s home loss to the Cavs away and by good fortune, the Bobcats were in town. It was one of those games that would be judged based on how crisp and clean the Thunder played, not necessarily the final line.
Verdict? Pretty good job, Thunder.
A season-high 63 percent from the floor (highest since 2002 in fact), quality defense, good control (just 14 turnovers), a season-high 27 assists and a good showing from the guys cleaning up at the end. James Harden, who seemed to have a bunch of trouble ever getting over his old career-high of 26, topped his new one just two games later putting up 33 on 11-16 shooting. In the first half, OKC scored 58 points, with 55 coming from Westbrook, Durant and Harden. And they did it on 21-28 combined shooting. For the game, those three went 29-41 from the floor. That’s 82 points on 41 shots. Efficient, y’all.
Really there was nothing more to this than there should’ve been. The Bobcats aren’t good and the Thunder, an elite contender, dispatched of them without much effort. In the end, it was just a question as to if OKC’s second unit would clean up better than the Bobcats. And the Thunder’s group did a really nice job closing out. Reggie Jackson finished with seven assists, Lazar Hayward got a few buckets and Cole Aldrich was good.
It was pretty obvious Friday night how disgusted the Thunder were about losing to the Cavs. The mood around the team after a loss is something palpable. They hate losing. Like despise it. So much. Maybe a little too much. Losing sticks with them and it’s a big reason they’ve always bounced back so well from losses.
Durant said of the Friday loss tonight, “It was a big lesson for us. I’m glad we got through it.” That’s the thing. You can’t let a bad loss beat you twice. Shake it off, move on. And hope you play the Bobcats next.
There wasn’t any way they were going to drop this one, especially to a team like they were playing. In the end, it was more just a question what those final numbers would look like more than anything else. And they ended up looking pretty good.
- Byron Mullens gave his own tribute tonight. His first touch? A turnover. And didn’t score until the fourth quarter.
- Cole Aldrich got some second quarter playing time, but didn’t jump Nazr Mohammed to get it. Obviously Scott Brooks was just giving us all the matchup we so desperately wanted: Mullens v. Aldrich. And I’d say from watching the two go at each other, Sam Presti clearly made the right call in which one he decided to keep. Aldrich has a lot of room to grow, but he showed off some quality post moves, was active on the glass and was active as always.
- Perk is a really intelligent defender. Multiple times the Bobcats were in a set and Perk was calling out exactly what it was going to be. Every time Charlotte use a dribble handoff, Perk was calling it out a solid five seconds before it happened.
- Mullens on his big return to OKC: “It was awesome. It was a great feeling. It kind of felt like coming back home. The fans love me here and I love the fans. I like the whole organization here, still family with them. I felt great. It felt like a homecoming.”
- Gonna need Elias to check and see if there have ever been two players in masks on the floor at the same time. Because OKC had two on the floor at the same time to close.
- Important reminder: The Bobcats stink.
- Scott Brooks: “I thought the ball movement was as good as we can possibly do.”
- The Thunder appeared to be a little unfocused early on, but seemed to snap out if it once KD spiked the ball and picked up a technical. On that he said, “I didn’t mean to bounce it that high … I was just frustrated with myself.”
- Westbrook pretty much entirely worked over D.J. Augustin in the post. I think OKC could went to Westbrook there and got either points or a good look every possession if it wanted.
- The two 3s Daequan Cook hit weren’t important in terms of the game, but in terms of his confidence, he needed those. He started off 0-3 and missed a couple WIDE open ones. He needed those to go down.
- Somehow though, Cook was a -2 in this game.
- Not gonna lie, I wasn’t expecting the usual full house crowd the Thunder have enjoyed all season. But OKC fans packed the house and were loud as usual.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night via @distracteddavid: “Sooo pretty. You don’t need a bow, you don’t need no makeup: just let that baby stand by her own self.”
Next up: Home against the Rockets Tuesday.