Thunder 99, Kings 98
Observations, news and notes from Tuesday’s game……
* For two of the worst teams record-wise in the league this was quite an entertaining game. Very competitive, too. Very, very ugly at times. But entertaining and competitive nonetheless.
* There were 18 lead changes and 13 ties.
* Both benches stood and cheered or encouraged their team much of the night, especially throughout much of the fourth quarter.
* Make that 5-1 without Kevin Durant.
* After talking to a few people tonight, I’m going to say Durant returns Monday against San Antonio. Durant was hoping for Wednesday at Denver and if not then definitely at Phoenix on Saturday. I’m saying Monday.
* Nick Collison didn’t play because of a sore groin. He’ll be a game-time decision for the Nuggets game.
* Jeff Green said his back felt great after it caused him to miss the past four games.
* Looks like Kyle Weaver will be the odd man out offensively now that Green’s back. He had only four shot attempts tonight, and you’ve got to think that’ll only decrease when Collison and Durant return.
* How about Thabo Sefolosha with another strong all-around effort? A season-high five steals tonight to go with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists and only one turnover. Can’t overlook how he calmly stepped to the line and sank two free throws to put the Thunder ahead 99-95 with 3.4 seconds remaining.
* Nenad Krstic tied a career-high with 15 rebounds tonight, making up for an off night shooting the ball and helping the Thunder out-rebound the Kings 44-36. Krstic also had three blocked shots tonight, including two big swats in the fourth period. Said Krstic of the Thunder holding on in the final framed despite a turnover-filled, paint-chipping shooting stretch: “A month ago we probably would have lost this game. But we’re learning how to win these close games. We’re growing as a team. You can see it. The chemistry’s there. It’s really fun to play.”
* Malik Rose best summed up the Thunder’s encouraging play of late, attributing the recent surge to the team’s overall attitude: “Right now, we don’t have a playoff spot to play for. But we’re playing to get better.”
* Speaking of Rose, tonight was the first time since March 2006 that he has scored in double digits in back-to-back games. He paced the Thunder’s bench with 11 tonight. Said Rose, “I thank God for the opportunity. I loved my time in New York. I had a great time there, great teammates, great friends. But I just thank God Sam (Presti) came and got me out of there and brought me to Oklahoma City and gave me an opportunity to play. Right now I’m just making the most of it.”
* I have to admit I pulled the oldest jinx in the book on Rose tonight and knew I did the moment the words came out of my mouth, “Wow, the Thunder is 19-for-19 from the line tonight.” Sure enough, Rose stepped to the line as I was saying it and proceeded to bounce the first of two off the iron. Chalk up that one missed free throw on a 22-for-23 night to your’s truly.
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