The Thunder beat the 76ers 103-99 in Manchester, England behind 29 points, eight assists and six rebounds from Reggie Jackson and 21 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds from Kevin Durant.
Some notes and thoughts:
- Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb started today in place of Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha. I know Brooks did it just for the preseason and probably most of it was simply because of Perk’s dislocated finger and a rest thing for Thabo, but I think he HAS to be willing to adjust his starting group without Westbrook. With Westbrook? Yeah, keep it straight with Perk at the 5 and Thabo at shooting guard. The stats bear that out — it worked last season. But without Westbrook, offense becomes an issue as teams expose the fact the Thunder have only two shot creators on the floor. Just keep an open mind to it. That’s all.
- Serge Ibaka’s face-up game is legit, y’all. He was extremely aggressive with his offensive game, looking for his own shot almost every time he touched it. The results were excellent: 18 points on 9-16 shooting, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
- Steve Smith made a good point at halftime, though. Ibaka’s mid-range game is excellent and all, but it doesn’t lead to many opportunities at the line. He didn’t attempt a free throw today and that’s never been something in his game he’s done much of.
- J.A. Adande: “Might have to invent new stat this season: MSODP. Missed Shot Off Durant Pass. KD’s teammates will have open looks galore. Can they convert?” It’s true. KD had 12 assists but could’ve had at least 16 or 17. There were so many good looks missed that he set up. So many.
- Reggie Jackson, you guys. His final line pops for sure, but it was the control he showed throughout the game, only turning it over once (on an iffy charge call) and really was the stabilizing force in OKC’s offense. And before you say yeah it’s preseason, remember, he was showing similar signs in the postseason against the Grizzlies. His game is real and the potential for him to be an elite sixth man is equally so.
- I believe in Steven Adams. He only got 17 minutes, but all of them were positive. Six points on 3-4, four rebounds, two blocks, an assist and a steal. I think fouling will be the issue for him as he figures out how to control his massive body, but the signs are there. I just hope he gets a chance and this doesn’t become a thing all season about him playing in Tulsa and us hearing about how he’ll be good in three years. The Thunder need help NOW at that position and if he’s better than someone else, why should he be behind them just because that’s the “process”?
- Highlight of the game was NBATV’s announcer saying “busket.” Basket and bucket combined. That cracked me up.
- We — and by “we,” I really mean me — keep saying things like “Lamb can shoot, don’t worry about him missing open looks.” But… he really should be making some of these shots he’s getting. He went 2-12 today and 0-8 from 3, and at least four of those 3s were WIDE open, clean looks (with three airballs). I’ve seen Lamb splash 15 and 20 straight 3s from deep during warmups. I know he can drop shots on an empty court with no pressure. I’ve seen him torch defenses in the D-League. But he’s got to get that to translate to live NBA action. Because everywhere else — defense, passing, handling — he’s acquitting himself quite well. If he makes 3-of-8 from deep today, he puts together a line of 16 points on 5-12 shooting. That’s a solid game. Just make your shots, J-Lamb.
- The Thunder’s first quarter ball movement and offensive action was infinitely better than it was against Fener. For example, check out this possession:
- That was six passes that led to a wide open look for your best shooter. Good spacing, good use of the pass, good execution. That’s the type of stuff the Thunder need more of. Not just simple down-screen curl set stuff. That was a play that developed into options and counter-options.
- The Thunder had 30 assists. That’s positive.
- Durant’s career-high in assists is 11. He had 12 in 33 minutes. His game is continually improving and evolving and if this is where he’s headed, look out. He’s already the uncontested second best player in the world, but remember, he just turned 25. He’s starting to figure out how to own basketball games and best put his ridiculous skillset to use. Is a season of 28 points per game on 50-40-90 with eight rebounds and seven assists out of the question? I don’t think so.
- Perry Jones started 2-2, and finished 2-7. But he hit a 3 in the first half meaning it was PJ for III. NAILED IT.
- I keep thinking Daniel Orton is close to being an okay player, but he just has a hard time looking comfortable. He’s out of control half the time and his defense leaves quite a bit to be desired. Still, I think he’s not too bad. I have no idea what to think.
Next up: Home against the Nuggets Oct. 15.