After Kevin Durant started off the game with consecutive airballs, everyone was saying the same thing: Haven’t I already seen this movie?
It wasn’t a sequel to Thunderstruck though. It was real life and Durant wasn’t playing well. And neither were the Thunder.
“Our first half was one of the worst we’ve played this year,” said Durant “It was one of those games. Grind out game where you got to push through.”
The Pacers shot 60 percent as Oklahoma City completely coasted through the first 24 minutes. Coming off an obviously intense, emotional and fun Lakers game two nights ago, there just wasn’t that same sense of urgency and excitement against Indiana. It’s natural. As long as it doesn’t result in a negative result, it’s also forgivable. It’s just impossible to get up and get excited for every single game when you play 82 of them. Some are more intense than others. But like KD said, pushing through and grinding out a win is what separates the elite teams.
“You go through games like that throughout the whole season where your energy is not there to start,” KD said. “But I think it’s how you finish.”
Here’s how Durant started: 4-of-16 from the floor for 14 points. Here’s how he finished: 5-of-8 for 13. I think he’s right.
The Thunder were fortunate though not to be in a deep hole heading to halftime. Durant was completely off, Russell Westbrook wasn’t scoring and there wasn’t much offense from Serge Ibaka or Thabo Sefolosha. Enter Kevin Martin who did an excellent You-Know-Who impression, piling up 13 points in five first quarter minutes and 20 overall in the first half.
“He was huge. Without him we would’ve been down 10, 15 points,” Durant said. “He came through for us.”
The Thunder woke up in the second half, holding Indiana to just 37 points on 33.3 percent shooting. Per the usual, Russell Westbrook was a big part of the ignition, especially in winning time. With OKC holding a seven-point lead with 3:45 left, Roy Hibbert — who is 7-foot-2, mind you — appeared to have an easy two points at the rim. Hello Westbrook, who exploded from the floor and emphatically stuffed the ball right back in Hibbert’s face. Then Westbrook splashed a jumper, stole the ball from David West, and splashed another jumper.
“Man, that’s just what he does, man,” said Durant about Westbrook. “He just made huge plays for us.”
The Thunder just won a game by 11 in which they were sleepwalking for almost 40 minutes. Whether it was Laker hangover, the natural ups and downs of the NBA season or whatever, they overcame an ugly start that didn’t have any energy, were actually up a point after “one of the worst” of the season as Durant and then turned things on when it was time to win.
Lesson: They’re pretty good.
- Now 17-4, winners of eight straight and scorers of 100 or more in 12 straight.
- Durant’s explanation for his sluggish start: “I think I was just too excited after my Redskins won today. I wasn’t really focused on the game I guess.”
- What changed for KD? My explanation is Nick Collison was the key to him getting his talent back. Durant was 4-of-16 and clearly struggling. Collison checked in, Durant drilled a 3 and then shot 3-of-5 for nine points with Johnny Basketball on the floor with him.
- Collison is the best at pump faking without actually pump faking at all. He dribble-pump-fakes.
- 50-40-90-Watch: KD entered the game at 51.5-45.7-90.1. After that rough shooting night he’s at 50.0-44.0-89.5.
- David West did some damage to Serge Ibaka’s defensive reputation tonight. Ibaka couldn’t handle West in the post, in space or off the dribble. The Thunder actually switched Perk over to West down the stretch.
- Ibaka did have a crazy good block on Paul George though.
- OKC got the ultra-rare 3-for-1 before halftime. Durant hit an and-1 layup with 45 seconds left, missed the free throw, Westbrook screamed for an offensive rebound and got fouled on a 3 with 35 seconds left.
- Hansbrough made a wild-looking shot in the lane and Perk, who was walking to the scorers table, waved his hand and said, “Get the f*** out of here man.” Funny, since it was you know, coming from Perk.
- Only 10 turnovers for the Thunder tonight.
- KD was doing solid work in the post tonight. He made good reads, used his size to shoot over the top and scored almost at will down the stretch.
- The Thunder played the Parks and Recreation theme during their starting lineups. Excellent touch.
- If Frank Vogel didn’t like a foul call, his go-to move was yelling, “ON WHO?” You know Frank, wait two seconds and the ref will tell everyone. That’s kind of how it works.
- The Pacers were definitely frustrated with the officiating though. And they have evidence to back them: OKC took 30 free throws to their 13.
- The Pacers entered the game as the league’s top rebounding team and OKC beat them on the glass 40-34.
- A few positives signs from Maynor tonight. He played his worst game of the season against the Lakers Friday and bounced back with six points and four assists in 14 minutes tonight. He might’ve been playing for his job tonight too. He lives to hold on to the backup spot another day.
- Serge Ibaka’s reaction to Stephen Jackson’s threatening tweet: “I don’t want to talk about it right now … I didn’t see nothing, I didn’t hear nothing.” Perk, who is good friends with Jackson said he hadn’t seen it, but said, “I’ll holler at him. Yeah, I’ll holler at him.”
- In the locker room pregame, video of the Pacers last game was running, which was against the Nuggets and featured this play from JaVale McGee. One Thunder player immediately cracked up after seeing it, jumped up and rewound it. Then a couple more players saw it and started laughing. And it got rewound again. And again.
Next up: Home against the Hornets Wednesday.