I think if you were to look up “proper bounce back game” in the pretend dictionary that would contain such a thing, this game would likely be referenced.
Serge Ibaka summed it up pretty well:
“It was a tough game against the Brooklyn Nets and we had to bounce back. That is how a good team works.”
Coming off a rather disgusting home loss to the Nets on Wednesday, the Thunder were hosting a capable 76ers squad. It was moderately close for two and a half quarters before the Thunder, as they should, asserted themselves on both ends of the floor and closed the game well, winning the second half 63-43.
It was a very methodical we’re-just-better-than-you kind of win. The Sixers hung tough because of some semi-miraculous shot making from Nick Young, but the Thunder just wore them down with superior talent. It started with Russell Westbrook, who might be rediscovering his shooting form as he went 10-17 — including 4-4 from 3 — for 27 points. And it finished with KD who scored a very smooth 26 on 15 shots and had a spiffy lefty and-1 dunk to wrap things up. Kevin Martin got reacquainted with the offense, as he finished with 16 on 5-9. Serge Ibaka manhandled Philly inside (10 rebounds, six offensive). All in all, pretty tidy win.
Note about Westbrook’s shooting night: This is the first time this season he’s had back-to-back games he’s shot 50 percent or better from the field. And by my charting, he went 4-5 at the rim tonight, 1-7 from mid-range and 4-4 from 3. The lesson here, as I’ve been saying, is his shooting percentage resides in him finishing. Say he went just 2-5 at the rim. He would’ve been 8-17 from the floor, a sub-50 percent game.
Said Westbrook: “Being patient was key and the lane opening for me. I just concentrated on finishing.”
Another thing: It seemed like a good return to solid defensive principles and intensity. The help defense was on cue and very few shots went uncontested. The Sixers shot just 40.5 percent and really, take away the 3-point line, and the Thunder locked down Philly. On 2-pointers, the 76ers shot 23-60 (38 percent). Thaddeus Young was a non-factor, Spencer Hawes wasn’t effective whatsoever in the pick-and-pop game and Westbrook did a pretty good job on Jrue Holiday, for the most part.
“It was much better,” Nick Collison said of the defense. “We were fighting over screens and contesting shots. It was great. It was exactly what we needed after the last game. We will have to do it again next time we play.”
Yep. That is how a good team works.
- Perk picked up two quick fouls tonight and forced Scott Brooks to bring in Collison just four minutes in. Maybe that’s the middle ground. Encourage Perk to play “physical” and set “hard screens to send a message,” if you know what I mean.
- Vince Gill was in the house tonight. Vince Gill > Toby Keith.
- Westbrook’s refusal — or disinterested — to get back on defense after he drives to the basket is a real Thunder epidemic. Jrue Holiday scored seven of his points as Westbrook was on the other side of halfcourt tonight. It’s like me in a Saturday morning pickup game pointing and yelling, “Help on mine!” because I’m way too lazy to hustle back. Except Westbrook is an NBA player in tremendous physical shape while I am very much not either of those things.
- Power Rankings of top no-look passers in the NBA, Thabo has to be top 15 right?
- One thing Perk doesn’t get much credit for except for when morons like me are trying to convince everyone he does have a purpose is that he really is a good screener. I’m guessing, but I think he probably created 8-10 buckets for Westbrook and Durant by either clearing space on a drive or setting a solid pick. For example: With 5:06 left in the third and the shot clock running down, Perk and Westbrook improvised a perfect flare screen and Russ buried it. Perk eclipsed Holiday and gave Westbrook a pure, uncontested look. Little things.
- Bizarro Kevin Martin night: After he hit his 3 to start the fourth, I looked at the box score expecting to see 15 points or something. Except that only gave him eight. He ended up with 16 on nine shots, but it wasn’t in his typical silent style.
- Perk airballed a jumper from roughly four feet tonight.
- Signs of life from Hasheem Thabeet tonight. He finished with seven boards in 17 minutes and had one very emphatic block in garbage time.
- Also remember when Thabeet was a good free throw shooter? That was fun for a minute.
- Interesting play from Reggie Jackson early in the fourth quarter. He seemed to have KD ahead for a clear fast break lob attempt, but instead chose to drop it off to a wide open Martin who splashed a 3. I’m choosing to believe this was a savvy move by Jackson who recognized Martin had knocked down a few shots and was trying to continue to help him bust of out a mini-shooting slump.
- Oklahoma State football player David Glidden took part in a fan dunk contest at halftime. He missed his dunk and did not get hurt.
- You guys should see my impression of Perk when he gets called for a foul he disagrees with. It’s pretty good.
- With about four minutes left in the third Westbrook was probing and Perk stood baseline, pointing into the air as if he wanted a lob. HAHAHAHA, Russell said, as he took it himself.
- It’s funny how Jackson can put up numbers similar to Eric Maynor, but when you watch him, you can clearly see there’s a difference between the two.
- Martin turns down so many solid to good looks. Nick Young on the other hand…
- I feel like Serge Ibaka gets his jersey pulled more than any other player in the league.
- I don’t mean to rip on the Thunder’s new PA guy, but for a team that really plays up the state pride and community thing, they really need a voice that can pronounce Oklahoma town names right.
- So, if say, Spencer Hawes were traded to OKC and wanted to keep his number, could you have a 00 and a 0 on the same team? Also, I don’t get double zero as a number.
- You guys should’ve seen Doug Collins was wearing pregame. It was like a variation of a black puffy shirt. Kind of looked like a pirate.
Next up: At Toronto on Sunday.