I knew the Thunder were up by a lot late in the second quarter. I was watching the game, but kind of not paying super close attention to it. The TV in front of me in the arena was on the Nets-Knicks game and on top of that with the Thunder up by a lot, I had started writing most of this recap.
Then Russell Westbrook regained my attention.
The Thunder were up 38 on the Bobcats with about 10 seconds left in the half. Some of you might’ve had the urge to flip over to Finding Bigfoot or whatever’s on TV on Monday’s or leave your seat early to try and get a head start on a little halftime snack. If you did, you made a big mistake.
Charlotte’s defense fell asleep and Westbrook exploded to the basket went for one of those dunks where he was trying to physically inflict pain on the rim. Where the word “assault” isn’t even close to good enough. It was pretty much obscene and really pretty much the perfect punctuation for a 40-point halftime lead.
“They was sleeping,” Westbrook said. “Everybody had their head turned. So I just tried to go and take off.”
“We work on that actually,” said Kevin Durant about the dunk. “End of the half we run a play and if I’m not open Russell just takes it. And so much attention was drawn on the other side of the floor. I didn’t think he was going to dunk it, but the stuff he does never [ceases] to amaze me.”
Maybe not coincidentally but a few minutes before that, Westbrook jumped a passing lane and had a fastbreak all to himself. With the Thunder up big, everyone expected showtime. Instead, Westbrook awkwardly stumbled a bit on his takeoff and ended up finishing in a very weird look layup.
“It was two points,” Westbrook said when asked what happened there. “Two points.”
“I got a great look at that one too,” said Durant. “I thought he was going to do something a little better than he did, but he made up for it at the end of the half.”
After that little mishap, we all knew what was up with the pre-halftime ferocity. Like KD said, he was trying to atone.
“I have a tendency of dunking the ball like that,” Westbrook said of why he dunked it so hard. “I don’t know why. It’s natural I guess.”
After Westbrook’s flight, it snapped me out of my daze and made me look up again at the scoreboard. Which read 64-24. Evidently not a typo. The Thunder won the first quarter 28-12. The second 36-12. And it was only going to get worse for Charlotte from there.
“At halftime I told the guys it’s our job to play for 48 minutes,” Scott Brooks said. “The game isn’t 24 minutes.”
It took the Bobcats almost five minutes in the third for them to score a basket as Oklahoma City’s lead peaked at 54 points. With 6:50 left in the third, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka checked out for good. A tidy night for the starters with plus/minuses of +45, +44, +41, +35 and +33.
The question a lot of people were left asking after this one was, “How in the world did the Bobcats come into this game 7-5?” I don’t have an answer for that, but the fact is, the Thunder not only took care of business, they gave the Bobcats the business too. OKC humbled them. Charlotte’s a young team that’s trying to figure themselves out and the Thunder just bumrushed them.
The Bobcats weren’t ready to play walking into The Peake asleep and the Thunder, and especially Russell Westbrook, made them pay dearly for it.
- The only downside to games like this is they hurt stats for most of the players. For example, Serge Ibaka’s streak of 12 straight games with double-figures ended. KD was very clearly cooking in the third quarter but right after he drilled a couple 3s, his night was over. He only finished with 18, Westbrook only got 12 and 11 assists when he was headed for something like 20-15. Bummer. Quit winning so awesome, Thunder.
- Hasheem Thabeet got a new career-high (13 points) and his first career double-double. Congratulations, I guess.
- Sometimes in a blowout, there’s a good opportunity to start writing a recap early in the fourth quarter. You know the game’s in hand, you know things are under control and all the important pieces and parts have mostly already happened. Against the Bobcats Monday, I started writing halfway through the second quarter.
- Some plus/minus fun: Thabo was a +45 in 21 minutes. KD a +44 in 26 minutes. Ibaka a +33 in 18 minutes. Nick Collison a +19 in 10 minutes. Reggie Jackson and Perry Jones III though? They were both a -9 in a 45-point win.
- The second half was really good chance for Reggie Jackson to make a little statement about maybe deserving a bit more regular time. It didn’t really go all that well. He made some shots and a few plays, but when he was handling and creating, he was really forcing things and was a bit out of control.
- One player that definitely didn’t do himself any favors in garbage time was Jeremy Lamb. He was 0-5 and looked about as much like a rookie as a player could. He wildly forced up airballs in the lane, got caught in the air with no where to go a few times and didn’t play within the offense at all instead just chucking when he got it.
- A couple fun halftime notes: a) The 40 point halftime lead was the largest in the Oklahoma City era and the second largest for the franchise all-time (44 point halftime lead on 11/23/67 at Boston). b) The last NBA team to lead by 40 or more points at halftime occurred on 11/2/91 (Golden State led Sacramento 88-41 at halftime). c) The 24 halftime points allowed by the Thunder is the fewest allowed in the Thunder era and tied for the second lowest in all-time franchise history (allowed 20 points on 1/4/75). d) The 21.6 field goal percentage allowed by the Thunder in the first half is the lowest in the OKC era (previous low was 26.8 percent against the Pistons last season).
- The 45-point win is the largest margin in OKC era.
- OKC’s margin of victory went from +5.5 to +8.1 tonight, which now makes them No. 1 in the league in margin of victory.
- Is there any more of a consistent crowd-pleaser in sports than a really old couple kissing on the Kiss Cam?
- Thabo, drilling 3s. He tied a career-high with four 3-pointers made. And the way Charlotte was defending him, I think he could’ve made 10.
- In only 19 minutes Perk had eight points and nine rebounds. Ouch, Brendan Haywood.
- Jeff Taylor went showtime in the first half with a double-pump reverse dunk with his team down 25 at the time, mind you, and nearly missed it because the ball hit his head.
- When a player is attacking the rim and sees Nick Collison slide into the paint, I wonder if there’s a similar but different intimidation as there when Ibaka does it.
- Great stat via AP writer Jeff Latzke: Entering tonight, the Bobcats haven’t had a game with 18 or more turnovers yet. And tonight they only had 13.
- I have no idea where you could ever find a number on this, but I feel like looking down at your feet after catching a pass and being wide open decreases your chance of making the shot by 98 percent.
- Have you guys ever noticed Eric Maynor’s defense face? Mouth open, brow furrowed, eyes wide. It’s a pretty good defense face.
- Throwing Thabeet a bounce back around his ankles: bad idea.
- I found it pretty odd that the Bobcats started the game with Kidd-Gilchrist on Thabo and Jeff Taylor on KD.
- It’s kind of sad to watch the Thunder’s pregame handshakes now. Reggie Jackson is the only guy that anyone does them with now. Maybe that’s because of the time crunch or maybe it’s because of the departures. Either way, I miss the handshake assembly line.
- Byron Mullens and Landry Jones: Sort of a resemblance, right?
- Westbrook on playing the Rockets and James Harden Wednesday: “For me personally when the game starts I worry about my team and us trying to win … It’s just another game. We play the Rockets and that’s it.”
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “AHHHHHHHHHH AHHHHHH AHHHHHH.” Note: I made that one up. I’m just assuming.
Next up: The Rockets Wednesday.