Jazz 104, Thunder 97
* It took a few games, but the more I see Jeff Green play the more I like what he brings. I’m beginning to see the potential for him to develop into the perfect sidekick for Kevin Durant. There’s not much he can’t do on the floor. He’s not great at anything yet but solid in most all areas. He’s developing his perimeter shot and ball-handling skills, and he’s already a willing and able defender. His length, strength and versatility alongside Durant should create matchup problems for many teams in the years to come.
* The Thunder needs nights like this out of Desmond Mason on a consistent basis. There’s no reason he can’t be a 12 to 15 point type sixth man. Not saying you go to him offensively night in and night out like the Thunder did tonight while he was hot. But he’s a guy who can score garbage buckets, get putbacks and score in transition. And say what you want, but he’s pretty effective in the low post more often than not.
* Chris Wilcox has got to get it going. His point production throughout the first five games reads like this: 13, 2, 12, 5, 2. The knock on him always has been his inconsistency, but that’s more volatile than the stock market. I point out his scoring because he’s never been a regular rebounding machine, and blocked shots have never been in his repertoire. But even his rebounding numbers must improve. Again, through five games: 6, 2, 7, 8,6. Here’s a guy that coming into the season I thought would have a career year being that it’s a contract year for him and he’d get plenty of opportunities to anchor an average frontline. There’s plenty of games left. He could come out and have a 20 and 10 night against Atlanta on Sunday. But what then will he do Monday against Indiana?
* It looks like Russell Westbrook will be in that 20-25 minute range this season. He played only 17 tonight because Earl Watson had it going in the third quarter and played nearly the entire period.
* If you’re scoring at home, Kevin Durant is shooting 57.1 percent on the road and 36 percent inside the Ford Center. It’s no wonder many Thunder fans are down on him to start the season. Eventually, he’ll put it together at home. Before the game, I asked him about his home shooting woes: “I’ve been getting good shots,” Durant said. ”Some have been in and out and some have missed bad. But I work hard every day after practice and before practice as well. So if I continue to do that they’ll start to fall.”
I also asked KD about shot selection: ”I think a good shot is a shot that’s in the rhythm of the game,” Durant said. ”An open shot, obviously. Getting to the basket is a good shot. But I think I had some good shots against Boston that I think should have went down but they didn’t. So I’ve got to continue to be aggressive and knock those shots down.”
* Paging Johan Petro. The starting center played just 19 minutes tonight. What’s become clear is Petro might be the starter, but P.J. Carlesimo doesn’t care about minutes. He’s going to go with the more productive big no matter what, which is the way it should be. Petro played just seven minutes in the second half while a hustling duo of Wilcox and Joe Smith helped the Thunder turn around the game with defense in the final 24 minutes. Petro, it seems, needs to make the most of his minutes or else P.J. will turn to Smith and Wilcox off the bench. I’d assume Robert Swift and Mo Sene aren’t far down the line either.
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