Go ahead and treat yourself with a little exhale. Because Jeremy Lamb finally showed a little of what we’ve all been trying to tell ourselves he’s capable of.
It started early with Lamb scoring a couple of easy ones in transition, both created by Reggie Jackson and himself off a steal. It led to a high quality first half of 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, with a couple rebounds, assists and steals. Lamb sat a lot of the third quarter — mild foul trouble — but got going again in the fourth scoring 10 on 3-7. He attacked the rim consistently throughout the game, getting to the line four times, and attempted nine of his 16 shots inside or close to the paint. He quit drifting on the wing and started moving off the ball and using his dribble much more effectively.
And it was against really solid competition too. The Bulls are an elite defensive team, and they didn’t take this preseason game all that lightly. Outside of Joakim Noah sitting, it was basically all regular rotation guys, with Lamb going against Chicago’s starters down the stretch in the fourth quarter. He was defended by Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy for most of the game, so it’s not like he was putting up numbers against D-Leaguers.
I don’t think it was any coincidence that Lamb’s good game came after he scored a couple of easy ones early. That seems to have been the common theme in his rough shooting nights so far, that he’s started 1-3 or 1-4 every game, with the shot attempts mostly being forced jumpers or highly contested runners in the lane. Tonight, he saw the ball go through the hoop early, got a little rhythm, got a little confidence and got into the flow.
It’s just one little preseason game — the last one before the real thing — but Lamb showed something. I’ve already said this, but you’ve got to give a young scorer like him a chance. If you start writing him off as garbage after five games, you’re never going to have a chance to reap the rewards of his talent. Game one of the regular season, it might be ugly again. Game two, it could be worse. But there’s something there and if the team can afford him a little patience — which is tough, considering their aspirations and expectations — Lamb could make people feel a lot better about That Trade.
Some other notes:
- Steven Adams’ final line looks nice — 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks in 30 minutes — but he pulled down those seven rebounds in 13 minutes in the first half. He didn’t have a single one in the second half.
- KD was just splendid in 32 minutes. He scored 22 on 6-12, but it was his passing (five assists) that really caught the eye. The Bulls attempted to double him on most his post touches, but Durant’s decision-making was terrific and he made clean, crisp passes. No turnovers for KD.
- Truly, you can’t stop KD one-on-one in the post. So teams are going to double him a lot, especially without Westbrook. But not having shooters is going to hurt OKC this season. If the Thunder could spread the floor with three shooters, KD at the 4 and Ibaka/Collison/Perkins/Adams at the 5, the Thunder could have a seriously unguardable offense. But there really isn’t anything like that on the current roster. Thabo is a solid shooter, but needs ample space. Lamb is unproven. And after that, who is there?
- Reggie Jackson went toe-to-toe with Derrick Rose, and really did a nice job of holding his own. In 28 minutes he had 14 points (5-12 shooting) with six assists (but four turnovers). Rose was terrific, but Jackson didn’t back down and went after Rose pretty well.
- Serge Ibaka was a late scratch and Perry Jones III started in his place. Jones hit a 3 to kick the game off, but got torch by Carlos Boozer in the post. Nick Collison started the second half at power forward and did excellent work defending Boozer.
- Collison scored 11 against the Jazz on Sunday and 12 against the Bulls tonight. All I’m saying is don’t rule him out for the scoring title.
- One of the most impressive things about Adams performance tonight was how he improved mid-game at defending Boozer. The first two trips, Boozer absolutely schooled him, taking him away from the basket and facing up. But after that, Adams got a little bit of a feel for it, and late in the fourth quarter sent a shot right back in Boozer’s face.
- Taj Gibson tried backing down Adams in the first half and had his hook shot sent back. You aren’t moving the big Kiwi on the block.
- One thing I love about Adams, among many others: his demeanor. After an and-1, after a big rebound, after a big block, he’s completely even keel. I haven’t even seen a slight fist pump from him yet this preseason. He’s almost mechanical in just doing his job. I think that steadiness is pretty ideal for what the Thunder are asking out of him.
- Another thing: Even with the point of emphasis on them, has Adams been called for a single illegal screen this preseason? His screens are consistently excellent, and they’re all legal.
- Is it just me, or does Rose look like a much improved on-ball defender?
- Also: It’s just awesome to see D-Rose back.
- Note I wrote after the third quarter: “Lamb played really well in the first half scoring 12 on 6-9 shooting, but disappeared in the second taking only one shot. Now who says he can’t fill Kevin Martin’s role?” But then Lamb got going late in the fourth scoring 10 in the final frame on 3-7.
- Per @ThunderStats, Adams per 36 numbers this preseason: 12.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 62.1 percent from the floor.
- Player I think Lamb really needs to watch some tape on is 2006 Rip Hamilton. The way he moved off the ball and came around pindowns and curls. Lamb is at his best from the free throw line extended coming off a pick.
- Jeff Van Gundy said it perfectly about Adams: He has great hands, but he gets the ball high and puts it up quickly. Perk’s big offensive problem is taking forever to go from a catch to gathering, to jumping, to releasing.
- So the new delay of game calls are supposed to speed up the game because a player touching the ball after a basket takes up 1.5 precious seconds. Except now after two of them, we have to stop to watch a free throw? How is this helping?
- Perk’s pick-and-roll defense in the third quarter was really solid. I don’t know what the future holds between him and Adams and while Perk’s going to have the starting spot on lockdown to begin the season, even if there’s a change later, having Perk on the roster could still be a good thing. He’s still really sound as a defensive anchor defending the paint.
- The missed connection between Derek Fisher and Erik Murphy was my highlight of the game.
Next up: THE REGULAR SEASON