Thanks to the scoring talents of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder box score frequently looks a little top-heavy.
Such was the case in Game 1 of the Thunder's playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, when their numbers jumped off the stat sheet.
Durant had 41 points, shot 13 for 22 from the field, 3 for 6 from 3-point range and also grabbed nine rebounds. Westbrook had 31 points, shot 12 for 23 from the field, 3 for 4 beyond the arc and added seven assists and six rebounds.
Throw reserve guard Eric Maynor into the mix (12 points; 5 for 7; 2 for 3 in just 12 minutes) and everyone else on the Thunder roster combined to score 23 points and shoot 32.0 percent from the field.
Though OKC's supporting cast was barely a blip on the stat sheet, the team was able to sneak out a 107-103 victory inside Oklahoma City Arena.
How the Thunder's role players perform in Game 2 at 7 p.m. Wednesday could swing the series in what qualifies as an extremely intriguing opening-round matchup.
Denver (107.5) led the NBA in scoring during the regular season and OKC (104.8) ranked fifth, but each team lights up the scoreboard much differently, and both made significant trades before the Feb. 24 deadline.
With Carmelo Anthony (25.2 ppg) and Chauncey Billups (16.5) now in New York, the Nuggets thrive with a more balanced attack.
With Jeff Green (15.2) and Nenad Krstic (7.6) shipped to Boston, the Thunder tries to pummel opponents with two sledgehammers in Durant and Westbrook.
Not everyone on OKC's roster can fill a stat sheet, which is fine as long as everyone fulfills his particular role.
The evaluation of Game 1?
Coach Scott Brooks: “We need to do certain things better.”
Starting guard Thabo Sefolosha: “I think we struggled a little bit, especially offensively.”
Reserve power forward Nick Collison: “I thought we did OK.”
Reserve guard James Harden: “I missed a couple of shots. It's nothing to worry about.”
These are hardly ringing endorsements, but certainly no signs of panic, either.
The biggest scoring voids came from Harden and starting forward Serge Ibaka, who both did well in other areas.
Harden had four open looks from 3-point range, missed them all, and finished 1 for 5 from the field. However, he did have four assists, three rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal.
Ibaka ranked eighth in the league in field-goal percentage during the season (.543), but shot 1 for 8 from the field with his lone conversion coming on a 12-footer. However, he did have five rebounds and four blocked shots.
With two days between games, Thunder players have seen more footage of Game 1 than they probably cared to watch.
“We made some mistakes defensively,” Collison said. “We didn't really follow the game plan we wanted to defensively. I'm not really sure exactly why that happened, but we were able to tighten up and do things a lot better later in the game.”
Thunder role players realize Durant and Westbrook will get their fair share of points, which is precisely the point, actually.
“We need to do a better job sometimes of giving those two guys outlets on a couple of plays when they didn't have any opportunities to score,” Collison said. “Our spacing needs to be a little better so they can make the easy play and we can attack on the other side.”
Some good was done by those not named Durant, Westbrook or Maynor.
“I thought we were solid,” Collison said. “A lot of things we do aren't in terms of scoring points. We try to set those guys up. We defend. We did that. I thought we did a decent job. I think we will have to play better to win this series. It wasn't a perfect game by any means. We can play much better.”
Sefolosha agreed and added, “We got the win and that's all that matters. KD and Russell really carried us throughout the whole game and they did a good job. We know what we have to do.”