Boy am I glad this one is over and there’s a “W” in the good column instead of a “I want to bash my head in because I can’t believe they lost” in the bad column (what, there was a couple “L’s” in that sentence). This was one of the most anticlimactic games I can remember that I was waiting for the Thunder to blow open and they never did, letting the Nets hang around…and hang around…and then absolutely frighten me in the last few minutes.
The Thunder were in control from the get-go and never really looked like they might let this one slip through their fingers until there was, oh, about a minute and a half left to go, which is not exactly the time you want to be caught looking ahead to Sunday’s HUGE matchup with the Jazz.
When you’re up 15 points with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter and you only win by 2 points at the final buzzer, you know the old attention span waned a bit in the final period.
But if you watched this game, you kind of got the feeling that is exactly what the Thunder were doing as it seemed like everyone not named Jeff Green and Kevin Durant were kind of just going through the motions, doing just enough to ensure a victory.
Speaking of Jeff Green, what a performance. 27 points on 11-16 shooting (going 3-4 from deep) with 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 1 block. He pretty much carried the Thunder for long stretches in the first and second halves when the offense went stagnant (aka, Kevin Durant and/or Russell Westbrook were out).
The Nets played well for the most part but the majority of their starting unit other than Devin Harris and Brook Lopez also looked like they were going through the motions, which we all know can happen when you just find more ways to lose than win in a difficult season.
So how did this game end up being so close? Well, it really came down to two things: Bench scoring and Turnovers (yes, Westbrook, I’m talking about you). First things first, this was one of Westbrook’s sloppiest games handling the ball I’ve ever seen. I counted four separate occasions where he was dribbling the ball and it literally just slipped out of his hands and kept on bouncing. Yes, he still got 11 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds, but when you factor in his 9 TURNOVERS, those 10 assists don’t look so hot. If he had held onto the ball then this would have been an A score for game management and being a floor general.
Second of all, this team desperately missed James Harden coming off of the bench. I thought Kyle Weaver definitely looked like he hadn’t played in the NBA in quite a few months (though his -20 was a bit of a shock) but he definitely brought effort, it’s just that his effort is nowhere near the same impact as Harden’s. Had he not picked up a personal foul and one assist with two missed shots, he would have had a very impressive zeros across the board, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen from a player earning 10 minutes of burn in a professional game.
Still don’t believe me that they missed Harden? The Thunder’s bench was outscored 53-20. All of the Nets starters had negative +/- and all but one of the Nets reserves had positive +/-. Translation: the Thunder’s bench got abused and just didn’t have the offensive firepower to fight back. I thought beforehand that people were undervaluing what Harden brings to the table and how much of an impact him being unavailable would be for the next four weeks, but I’m beginning to think that even that mindset might be something of an understatement itself.
All in all though, it can be hard to get up for a game against the potentially worst NBA team of all time so let’s just thank our lucky stars that Jeff Green had a monster game and Kevin Durant is simply awesome, finishing the game out with 32 points on 10-21 shooting and 12 rebounds.
- I think Russ has fallen in love with the long distance bounce pass in transition a little too much. But that being said, how sweet was his leading bounce pass to Thabo who as running full tilt in the first quarter?!
- Speaking of that play, I thought Thabo was going to bend in half when he hit the ground…and he almost did. So props to T-Bone for his flexibility.
- James. Harden’s. Bow-tie. Nothing more need be said. I almost cried it was so beautiful.
- Krstic had a very effective game in the post for the Thunder. 10 points on 4-6 shooting and 8 boards in only 28 minutes against mainly Brook Lopez. I wasn’t blown away but I was definitely impressed with how he handled himself on both ends of the court in the post.
- I’d like to thank the Nets for not playing transition defense in the first quarter. That really helped the Thunder’s offense get going and I’m pretty sure the majority of their 20 Fast break points came in that quarter, which ultimately helped them stay ahead in the end.
- Brian Davis and Grant Long photos from their early years. Don’t ask me why, but I always think it’s kind of fun to see how people looked when they were little. Oh, but apparently Davis went through a de-freckling phase in puberty…Um yeah, I have no idea either.
- Finally, I’d like to congratulate Kevin Durant on his 36th 30-point game of the season, breaking the Seattle/OKC franchise’s record for most 30 point games in a season. Something tells me this is only the beginning for Durant etching his name in the record books (MAX CONTRACT JULY 1! <Ehem>)
Most importantly of all, the Recap losing streak jinx is over!!!! I don’t have to feel guilty about the Thunder losing when I do recaps! Woo-hoo!
Okay so the win is most important as the Thunder hit the 40 win mark and moved into SOLE ownership of the fifth seed in the Western Conference, especially with the Jazz losing at Milwaukee tonight and now being only 1 1/2 games up on the Thunder going into Sunday’s gigantic matchup, but I still feel happy that I’m not some kind of DT Recap bad luck charm, too.
Bring on the Jazz! Bring on a game with HUGE playoff implications! How exciting is this getting, huh?