So that was kind of meh.
The Thunder dropped two games out of three on the road last week. It started off with the Spurs butchering the Thunder in San Antonio, handing the team its worst lost since the inaugural season in Oklahoma City. Then, the Thunder followed up the San Antonio Slaughter (I just named it) by getting hoodwinked by the Jazz in Utah. Even the wins last week weren’t much to get excited about–the Thunder beat a bottom-feeding Lakers team and the flailing Phoenix Suns.
But those losses… it’s hard not to get a little discouraged (even though the team was without Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Andre Roberson, and Nick Collison). To add insult to injury (or maybe to add injury to insult?), Durant is officially sidelined for the season due to a third surgery on his Jones-fractured foot.
Let’s face it, success this season is no longer about a deep playoff run. Success is about getting the new guys integrated (Enes Kanter, Dion Waiters, DJ Augustin, Kyle Singler, and I guess Steve Novak, too), the continuing development of Steven Adams (who’s been really good since he returned from his hand injury), and Russell Westbrook accumulating as many triple-doubles as he can.
I don’t know about you, but with just eight regular season games remaining, and a likely first-round match-up against the Golden State Warriors (eeek!), I’m going to do my darndest to forget about the what ifs of this season and think about what is. Westbrook’s play has simply been an ocular treat, and when guys like Anthony Morrow are raining threes, the team can just be plain fun to watch (I mean, that fourth quarter against the Suns!).
And maybe, just maybe, the Thunder will surprise us all.
- Beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 127-117
- Lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 130-91
- Lost to the Utah Jazz, 94-89
- Beat the Phoenix Suns, 109-97
THE BEST PLAYER
Russell Westbrook. It’s probably unfair to say that Russ had a down week, considering his idea of a down week is 28.3 points per game, to go along with six rebounds and eight assists, but this last week felt very ho-hum. If Russ posts those stats along side Durant and Ibaka, I’m moderately certain the Thunder go 4-0, or at worst 3-1, but unfortunately this zombie season is being played out without Westbrook having the benefit of his two best running buddies. The main reason the Thunder lost to Utah was that the Thunder lacked a secondary go-to weapon. In the fourth quarter, Russ played really well (he scored 20 points!), but Steven Adams filled the secondary-option role (huh?) and was responsible for every other point scored that quarter (3 points).
Needless to say, for the Thunder to close out the season strong, they are going to need the role players thrust into featured roles (I’m looking at you, Kanter and Waiters) to contribute on a nightly basis.
One somewhat random but mildly interesting factoid, on a team with shooters like Morrow, Augustin, and Singler, Russ took 44% of the team’s three pointers when he was on the court. That seems like a lot to me.
Honorable mention: Enes Kanter’s week? Four games and three double doubles, including a 25-point, 16-rebound game against the Lakers. I think the consensus is that without Durant and Ibaka, Kanter is the clear cut number two, and his numbers back that up. If only he had any idea how to play defense…
Oh, but he did have this pretty sweet little spin move against the Jazz.
THE BEST PERFORMANCE
Russell Westbrook against the Jazz. In a losing effort, Westbrook nearly willed his team to a victory. After starting off red hot, the Thunder quickly cooled and played downright sloppy (the Thunder had more turnovers (13) than made field goals (11) in the second and third quarters), but Russ was not about to quit. As I said above, Russ scored 20 of the team’s 23 points in the fourth quarter, making 50 percent of his shots. The only reason the Thunder climbed to within 2 near the end of the fourth was due to Westbrook. Unfortunately, one Russell Westbrook was not enough to beat an entire NBA team.
Honorable mention: When I talk about Waiters, I kind of feel like the the guy who tells all his friends that Parks and Recreation is the funniest show on TV, and everyone yawns and says, “huh? isn’t it on NBC?” Slowly, the tide is turning, though. More and more of you are coming to grips with the reality that Waiters has become a useful player. Against the Lakers, Waiters was again good, scoring 23 points on 63 percent shooting, including 100 percent from three. He also dished four assists and four rebounds. Choo choo!
THE BEST PLAY
Russ had two pretty epic alley-oop finishes this week, but my favorite was this oop from DJ Augustin to Westbrook. Poor Kanter, though. I guess he thought the pass was for him, but instead of getting the pass, Westbrook just spilled a bunch of dunk all over him.
Because I love ya’ll, here’s the second: a sweet dish from DJ Augustin leads to a stunningly athletic jam by Russ.
THE WORST PLAYER
Perry Jones. I sure hope that Perry regularly thanks the Nike goddess of victory for Youtube. Otherwise, no one would believe he once scored 32 points in a game against a real NBA team. But yeah, due to the injury situation, Jones has picked up some meaningful action lately. This week, he appeared in two games and averaged 18 minutes per game. In those minutes he shot just 3-14, and scored six points.
I don’t know what it is about Jones. He’s an athletic freak that I always assumed put up zeros because he wasn’t being aggressive. Except, against the Spurs, he was very aggressive and looked not very good in process. Color me perplexed.
THE WORST PERFORMANCE
The Oklahoma City Thunder against the San Antonio Spurs. The entire team was pretty much awful against the Spurs, especially on defense. That is all I want to say about the San Antonio Slaughter.
THE WORST PLAY
Gah, dangit, Perry. You were given three chances to post-up Marco Belinelli (you’re bigger than him, by the way), and you pay it off with three progressively worse post-ups.
- Against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, April 1 at 7:00 p.m. (CT)
- At the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m. (CT) (ESPN)
- Against the Houston Rockets on Sunday April 5 at 12:00 p.m. (CT) (ABC)
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