For a quarter, it looked a lot like a midseason game for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook was gunning, Kevin Durant was finding a scoring rhythm and Oklahoma City seemed to have things completely under control.
Westbrook scored 16 of the Thunder’s first 21 points — in about six minutes, mind you — with Durant adding 13. Neither played at all in the second half though and eventually the Rockets’ second (and third) unit outlasted OKC’s, 107-105.
It was 48 minutes of actual, real-life basketball though. And with some interesting storylines and questions coming into training camp and the preseason, we got a little look into it all Wednesday.
Five big thoughts from the game:
1. Not too bad, Cole. His final line is nice: 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 34 minutes. But it was a bit of a rough start for Cole Aldrich. His first two defensive possessions he fouled Omer Asik, then was beat by Asik down the floor for an easy dunk. While Aldrich’s touch around the basket was nice and his energy on the glass solid, he still is a foul machine.
But considering some of the worry about the backup center position coming in, I feel like Aldrich’s performance was really positive. His baby hook with both hands is impressive. He hit one with his left and then one with his right on consecutive possessions. The big issue for Aldrich still seems to be defensive awareness and a lack of feel on the offensive end when he’s not just making a reactionary play. It seems like when Aldrich is forced to think, he either hesitates or just chooses poorly.
2. Thabeet is tall. Besides having a really weird blonde spot on the back of his head, Hasheem Thabeet was mostly unmemorable, save for a few nice putbacks inside. At times it looked like he might have a leg up on Aldrich, but he has a strange knack for a 7-3 guy that he can disappear on defensively and on the glass.
But man, he does look big out there, doesn’t he? I can see the fascination with the guy. Sometimes he can make things look easy. When he gets his hands on the ball a few feet from the bucket, it’s like someone playing on a Nerf rim.
The one thing he definitely does better than Aldrich though? Foul.
3. Jackson over Maynor? It’s probably unwise to read into much from a preseason game, but it was moderately intriguing that Reggie Jackson played over Eric Maynor in the first half. Maynor actually didn’t make an appearance until late in the third quarter. It’s likely their roles could flip-flop in OKC’s next preseason tilt, but it struck me as odd that Scott Brooks would pick Jackson first in this one.
And really, I thought Jackson played better than Maynor too. Jackson made good decisions in the pick-and-roll, attacked the rim well and pushed the pace. He finished with four points and five assists, but three turnovers. Maynor came out chucking, scoring seven on 10 shots with four assists and no turnovers.
But it was nice seeing Maynor on the floor again. It seemed like he needed a bit to find his rhythm, but he knocked down a few jumpers, made good plays and created a couple easy buckets.
4. PJIII. Perry Jones III played 18 minutes, all in the second half. He had a decent output — eight points, five rebounds and an assist — but it didn’t feel like he really impacted the game a whole awful lot. But all of his time came with second and third unit guys, so hopefully he’ll get some time soon with Westbrook and Durant. Lineup combinations with Jones are intriguing, but tonight he played mostly the traditional 3 with a little power forward in the fourth.
5. Ugly Beard. One player that definitely looked a little rusty was James Harden. And as in “rusty” I mean completely terrible at basketball. His first half: 0-5, two points and three turnovers. He straightened it out a bit in the second half, hitting 3-of-6 and finishing with nine points.
One thing about Harden’s game though was that he seemed to attack the paint a lot less and really focused on his mid-range pull-up game. Maybe that’s going to be something he keys on more this season.
A few other notes:
- Hollis Thompson, Andy Rautins and Daniel Orton didn’t play at all. DeAndre Liggins though got 25 minutes, scoring 10 points, all in the first half.
- Serge Ibaka sat because of a minor leg injury.
- Westbrook seemed to really focus on his post game early on, taking Jeremy Lin down on the block repeatedly early on.
- The Rockets’ announcing team was brutal. Matt Bullard called Toney Douglas a “pure point guard.” That’s all you need to know.
- Terrence Jones can play.
- Aldrich’s 34 minutes was the most for the Thunder tonight by nine minutes (Liggins).
- Nick Collison took two charges in a preseason game. That is all.
Next up: Friday against the Jazz in Utah.