Observations, news and notes from Friday’s game……
* Coach Scott Brooks labeled Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison as the only positives in tonight’s game. Krstic scored 16 points with six rebounds. Collison had 14 points with eight rebounds. “I liked (Krstic’s) effort,” Brooks said. ”You could tell he was trying to bring it on the defensive end…I thought he was the bright spot in tonight’s ball game. Him and Nick played with good energy and good effort.”
* Brooks on naming Krstic the starting center, “It’s nothing against Nick. Nick has been playing very well for us. It just gives us a different look. Both are going to play good minutes, and we want them both to play well. Nenad is going to get an opportunity. I don’t know if it’s permanent. I don’t know how long it’s going to be.”
* Yes, it’s against the high-octane Suns, but it’s become truly amazing that Kevin Durant can dump in 35 points and be an afterthought at best and marginal at worst. His 12 of 23 shooting characterized the efficiency with which his points have come but his five turnovers and average defense also told a story of his season. The franchise, however, is the first to look in the mirror following his team’s awful defensive effort. “We’ve got to have a better defensive effort,” Durant said. “It starts with me. I’ve got to get the guys going.”
* You know what the Suns are going to do and you still can’t stop it. Incredible. That’s not a knock on the Thunder. It’s amazing that few teams are able to.
* Mark this down, though. The Suns have restored excitement in Phoenix but have given fans a false sense of hope. They’ll win more games down the stretch and score all these points under new coach Alvin Gentry. But when the playoffs roll around they’ll be ousted just like they were before.
* 140 points is still amazing.
* The Suns sound like the Thunder players sounded when P.J. Carlesimo was fired back in November, not wanting to say anything negative about the old coach’s style but rejoicing over the methods of the new guy. Said Steve Nash of the running offense, “It suits our team, getting out in the open court and utilizing slashing and shooting ability and quickness. It really suits our team. It opens the floor up and allows us to play to our strengths.” Said Leandro Barbosa, “I love to play running up and down. I think everyone does. So I’m very happy to be doing that.” But I’m sure Terry Porter was a great guy.
* Back to the Thunder, its 23 turnovers hurt as much as anything. OKC could have lived with the one pass and jump shot. But in the final 9:30, turnovers coupled with poor shot selection buried the Thunder.
* I’m not about to look it up right now, but I’ll go out on a (lazy) limb and say the Thunder’s 96 shot attempts were a season-high even for an overtime game.
* All those shots and Jeff Green took only nine? Go figure.
* Russell Westbrook and I have been going back and forth for about two weeks about whether he’ll hit the rookie wall. Tonight, I admitted to him I was wrong. He hasn’t hit it and likely won’t.
* Kyle Weaver better have a better showing Saturday against the Warriors. Thabo Sefolosha is licking his chops for more three-points, five-assist, four-turnover performances.
* I like Nick Collison coming off the bench. He brings good energy and effort to that second unit. Brooks likes him in any capacity. “Nick, we know what he does,” Brooks said. ”He’s an energy guy that gives us good effort no matter if he starts or comes off the bench. And that’s a good luxury to have as a coach, knowing that Nick can do just about anything you ask.”
* Shaquille O’Neal nearly broke Durant in two with his flagrant foul in the first half. I didn’t think it was flagrant. Durant is just light as a feather and Shaq is heavy as a house.
* Durant did as good a job as I’ve seen all season setting up his teammates. He finished with five assists tonight.
* Sefolosha and Malik Rose are expected to join the team at Golden State on Saturday night. I’m told Sefolosha (whose last name I’m already sick of typing and is a typo waiting to happen) will wear No. 2. Rose will wear No. 9. Brooks said he isn’t likely to play either.
* Joe Smith squashes buyout rumors. Why does I feel it’ll still happen?