Nets 103, Thunder 99
Observations, news and notes from Monday night’s game……..
* As I wrote about for Tuesday’s paper, the Thunder is close to turning the corner. Finishing a stretch of five games in seven nights at 2-3 is a good start. The defense, which has held opponents to 44.2 percent shooting over the past five outings and has allowed 100 points or more only twice, has been the biggest difference.
* Brook Lopez is not that good. Career-high 31 points? Career-high tying 13 rebounds? “Early, we were losing him in pick and rolls,” said Nick Collison, who drew the surprisingly tough assignment of guarding Lopez. “He was slipping to the basket and getting a lot of layups, even knocking down jump shots. He looked like a Hall of Famer tonight. He played great. He’s a big guy, he can shoot it, he makes his free throws. He’s going to be a load.”
* Chris Wilcox was three minutes, 42 seconds away from recording his third straight DNP-Coach’s Decision on Monday night but got that much playing time because Lopez was giving Collison the business and forced him into three early fouls. Thunder coach Scott Brooks continues to say Wilcox isn’t playing simply because you can’t play everyone. It doesn’t take much critical thinking to figure out that the Wilcox is not in the team’s plans going forward. For all you fans asking who’s most likely to be dealt before the Feb. 19 trading deadline, take one peak over at which players are riding the pine and there’s your answer. How else can you explain not playing a guy who can be a much-needed bundle of energy off the bench and scored two points and pulled down four boards in less than four minutes? Granted, Wilcox’s defense isn’t great and his rebounding is inconsistent at best. But when he gets it going he’s a tough cover.
* I’ve heard of a sophomore jinx, but is there a such thing as a sophomore wall? Kevin Durant might be about to find out. His minutes have been absurdly high. He played 48 tonight and is now averaging 40.6 in 21 games in December and January. That figure would be slightly higher had it not been for his 22 minutes in last week’s 42-point loss to Minnesota. Durant continues to say he’s young and can handle it. We’ll see.
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