It’s always a positive sign when the top storyline entering the fourth quarter is, “When is Perry Jones going to check in?”
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Thunder steamrolled the young Hornets, 100-79 and did it with the starters resting the entire fourth quarter.
The Hornets weren’t exactly hanging tough, but they were hanging around just enough to keep Oklahoma City’s starters in the game. But a late third quarter flurry from Russell Westbrook pumped the lead to 27 entering the fourth, and officially initiated the PJIII Watch.
Now, the Hornets aren’t exactly good. They’re not even average without Anthony Davis and/or Eric Gordon. But they are an NBA team with NBA players, officially speaking at least. (Who is Brian Roberts? Who knows, but he’s in the NBA, which makes him an NBA player.)
And considering the circumstances — those being the Thunder coming off a pretty rugged game last night — I’m pretty impressed with this performance. Not only did the Thunder win, they did it convincingly. There was absolutely no letdown, no lapse in concentration, no lack of energy. The Thunder showed up and established their authority over an overmatched side.
Remember last season how many games the Thunder seemed to have to win in the last five or six minutes? A lot of games were close and while the Thunder proved themselves to be great closers, they’re asserting themselves as the dominant team a lot more this season. Which is very nice to see.
The schedule finally turns and gets a bit tougher with games against the Nets, Lakers and Pacers up next. But there is something to be said for not only taking care of business against teams you’re supposed to, but doing it with a little authority. The Thunder are in a serious groove and while questions will be raised with the next loss, it’s extremely apparent that there hasn’t been some kind of massive drop-off after the trade.
Really, the Thunder look a little bit better it seems night after night. A little more flow, a little more understanding and a little bit better chemistry. Saturday’s game was the kind where there wasn’t anything all that significant to gather because there wasn’t exactly an intriguing matchup or real challenge from anywhere. Except for the Thunder competing against themselves. Because that’s really who you’re playing against a lot of times, especially when you’re matched against an overwhelmed opponent.
That’s now five in a row, the second five-game winning streak this season for OKC. Again though, this upcoming week will reveal new things about this team. One way or the other.
- The Thunder now 5-0 second night of back-to-backs.
- Kevin Martin and Nick Collison have very clearly developed some quality chemistry.
- It’s got to be pretty good being a garbage timer for the Thunder. You actually get pretty decent minutes.
- Attention: Perk looked solid again. On both ends. He’s been active on the glass, has actually been plausible on the offensive end and looks swifter than I can remember. He’s getting a little more lift on his hook shots and tip in attempts. That’s back-to-back double-digit games for Perk. He only did that once last season and hasn’t had three straight double-digit games since 2010 with the Celtics.
- Clutch 3 by Eric Maynor with 20 seconds left to give OKC 100 points an extend the Thunder’s century-mark streak to nine games.
- For shame it was DeAndre Liggins and not Jeremy Lamb called up today.
- OK, so Russell Westbrook for real got hit in the face tonight. Xavier Henry caught him with an inadvertent elbow and bloodied Westbrook’s lip.
- Westbrook seems to be more into the defensive end than I can ever remember. He’s really trying to wreak havoc out there. The gambling is great when it works.
- Eric Maynor was pretty solid tonight creating good looks for his second unit buddies. He drove multiple times on the baseline and found an open teammate a couple times. He had four assists tonight, equaling his season high.
- What’s happened though to Maynor’s mid-range pull-up game? That was a real point of strength for him but now, it seems Maynor tries to take everything a step or two too far. He’s really trying to rely on that awkward off-balance floater, and it’s just not working. He needs to get back in the pick-and-roll and feel pockets of space a little more and not be afraid to pull up from 15.
- You think when Sixpence None the Richer came up with “Kiss Me” that they knew they just wrote the all-time Kiss Cam song?
- Martin gets great elevation on his jumper. And he has to, with that release point.
- Al-Farouq Aminu just looked lost. He looked like that guy in your Saturday pickup game that’s almost always out of control and taking wild shots.
- You could say the same thing for Austin Rivers too.
- Serge Ibaka had his weakest offensive output since opening night against the Spurs. Just five points on 2-7 shooting. But he only got 23 minutes, of course.
- That KD behind-the-back move to setup a no-look to Thabo. Whoa.
- Westbrook picked up his eighth double-double of the season. He had seven all of last year.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “I think he put a little bit of nasty in that jambalaya he served up there.”
Next up: At Brooklyn Tuesday.