Observations, news and notes from Friday’s game…..
* Your coach was not a happy camper tonight……
“We didn’t hit shots. We didn’t defend. We played soft basketball,” said Scott Brooks. ”These playoff teams that we’re playing, they play physical basketball. And 21 offensive rebounds, that just shows you right there we didn’t bring the energy that it takes to win on our home court or on the road.”
* There was more…..
“There’s no question we’ve lost games when teams have outplayed us. But I don’t think this year we really lost a game because the other team just physically manhandled us. We were soft tonight. It’s unacceptable to play like we played tonight.”
* Brooks is going to make sure the players didn’t put this one behind them the moment they crumpled the box scores and tossed them aside as they sat at their lockers….
“I think we are at a stage of our process where this is not a throwaway game,” Brooks said. “We have to take something from this game. We will watch some film tomorrow. We will talk about this game. Once we get that done, once we get on the practice floor, we’re going to do things that are going to get us better and worry about the Indiana Pacers. But we’re not going to let this game go without talking about it and looking at it and we definitely have to learn something from it.”
* Shaun Livingston got some surprise playing time. I’ve been saying all week in print, on this blog and on NewsOK.com videos that I don’t expect him to play over these final games. Couldn’t have been more incorrect. He played 27 minutes tonight, and I thought he looked pretty good all things considered. You can read my full story on Livingston’s Thunder debut in Saturday’s editions of The Oklahoman.
* Brooks said he could use Livingston more going forward…”I definitely liked what I saw tonight,” Brooks said. “He makes plays for others and that’s what we need.”
* LaMarcus Aldridge did whatever he wanted offensively. Jeff Green threw everything he could at him. None of it worked. L.A. finished with a season-high 35 points with a game-high 18 rebounds.
* I asked Brooks why he didn’t send more double teams at Aldridge. You could tell early that L.A. had it going and it could be a long night. Brooks said he thought Jeff Green would be able to do a solid job on Aldridge by himself and that the Blazers’ 3-point shooters could burn the Thunder if they doubled…..”You pick your poison. I thought we could guard guys down low with maybe just a little bit of a help, not a full out rotation. But the effort was not there. We didn’t do either one. We didn’t stop them down low and we didn’t stop them from the perimeter.”
* Joel Przybilla pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. The silver lining, if there is such a thing in this game, is that Przybilla had 10 rebounds and two blocks in the first half alone. I guess that means the Thunder did a decent job on him in the second half. No wait, he only played eight minutes in the second half. Never mind.
* Behind Alrdidge and Przybilla, the Blazers out-rebounded the Thunder 57-32, outscored OKC 46-26 in points in the paint and out-hustled the Thunder to the tune of a 24-6 advantage in second-chance points. Ouch.
* Blazers point guard Steve Blake dictated the pace early with seven first-half assists. He finished with a game-high 10 for the game.
* The Thunder’s ball movement, on the other hand, was pretty non-existent. Brooks blamed that aspect of the game for the team’s offensive woes tonight even while answering a question about how the turnovers (12) were one of the few positives….”We have to have better ball movement,” Brooks said. “When you don’t have better ball movement, usually what happens is you don’t turn it over you just take bad shots. I thought tonight we didn’t have good enough ball movement, especially against a good playoff team.” And there you have it.
* Kevin Durant said the goal in these final seven games needs to be consistency….”We got to be consistent, especially myself,” Durant said. “Get back into my rhythm that I had early on and continue to just go from there. But as a team we’ve got to be consistent on both ends.”
* Durant refused to blame his inconsistency on the games he missed with a sprained ankle disrupting his streak….”I can’t blame it on that,” he said. “I just got to focus more on my shot. I think I’m getting good looks….I know I’ve just got to continue to work even harder now. Hopefully everything gets back on pace and individually I do well.”
* Texas coach Rick Barnes attended Friday’s game, supporting Durant and Aldridge. Barnes might be in attendance Sunday as well in support of Durant and former Longhorns guard T.J. Ford….”I wish we would have played better for him, but it’s good to see him again,” Durant said. “It’s been a long time, but hopefully he’ll get to see many more of our games….I talk to (the folks at Texas) all the time. They’re family so I can’t lose contact with my family.”