Thunder 123, Nets 120
I’m not with the team on this two-game road trip. Our man John Rohde has you covered with complete coverage.
But I had the DVR going for Wednesday’s triple-overtime win at New Jersey and, as always, I’ve got some nuggets on my noggin after this one. Rather than coming from my usual courtside viewpoint, these post-game thoughts are being delivered to you from my couch.
- There is no doubt in my mind the Thunder should have fouled Anthony Morrow with 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation. The counter argument in that situation always is the risk of fouling a player while he’s shooting, as evidenced by Stephen Graham sending Jeff Green to the line in the second OT. But when Morrow put the ball on the floor, taking one dribble before hoisting his game-tying runner, that presented a perfect time to wrap up Morrow well before he could get a shot off. As exciting as this triple-overtime thriller was, it should never have gotten to that point.
- I thought it was a great timeout by Thunder coach Scott Brooks 1 minute, 5 seconds into the first overtime period when the Nets started on a 5-0 run. Thunder players still looked shell-shocked. And that run could have been the start of the end of this game for the Thunder.
- Instead of writing about the Thunder’s resiliency and grit and toughness and blah, blah, blah, I’ll do this. Here’s how many times I thought the Thunder was going to lose this game. Ready? When Morrow hit the 3 at the regulation buzzer to send it to OT, when Morrow and Travis Outlaw hit tough shot for the Nets 5-0 run to start the first OT, when Serge Ibaka fouled out early in the first overtime, when the Nets went up 100-94 and OKC couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first OT, when Russell Westbrook missed a wild jumper with eight seconds left in the second OT and hustled to get his hands on his own miss only to knock the ball out of bounds and give it back to New Jersey with the Thunder trailing by one, when Morrow made two foul shots to put the Nets up 110-107 with 6.2 seconds remaining in the second OT, when I saw the look on Nenad Krstic’s face, halfway covered with a towel, just before Morrow’s two free throws and when Kris Humphries put the Nets on the board first for the third straight overtime with a mid-range J from the top of the key.
- Westbrook’s two consecutive pull-up jumpers in the first overtime that tied it at 100-100 were the definition of clutch. And they saved the Thunder in the initial overtime.
- Green’s three free throws with 4.6 seconds left in the second OT were obviously the biggest game-changer for the Thunder at that point. But I thought the back-to-back shot clock violations the Thunder forced the Nets into late in that second extra frame were just as big in saving this victory.
- Westbrook scored all 13 points for the Thunder in the third overtime. He came two points shy of tying Earl Boykins’ NBA record of 15 points in an overtime period, which Boykins set during the 04-05 season. Westbrook’s final stat line: 38 points, a career-high 15 rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
- Green was Fox Sports Oklahoma’s Budweiser Player of the Game with 2:25 left in regulation. At that point, Green had scored a then season-high tying 24 points with five rebounds and four assists. Perhaps the crew will start waiting until after the game before settling on a player of the game.
- In his last four games, Westbrook has averaged 32.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 3.3 steals and has shot 48.9 percent from the field.
- Green did piece together a pretty stellar game. He had a career-high 37 points and added five rebounds and four assists in 53 minutes. And he tacked on another clutch moment to his growing list when he timed his shot perfectly to earn three free throws late in the second overtime when the Nets looked like they clearly wanted to foul. But the thing I liked most about Green’s offensive performance was that his points came in a variety of ways. Green scored on post-ups and on spot-ups, and got easy baskets by cutting and getting to the foul line. You saw the versatility in his game tonight and how much more valuable he is when he’s not settling for jumpers.
- Green’s show-and-go game is incredible. Not sure of the how or the why. But it works every time.
- There was a subtle carry over from Monday’s game against New Orleans that was seen tonight. If you remember, Westbrook was absolutely crushed by a screen near halfcourt as he guarded his man in the closing seconds of the win over the Hornets. He wasn’t happy with his teammates leaving him on an island. But tonight, every time Westbrook picked up his man the length of the court and a big was there to flatten him, there was better communication to let Westbrook know to look out for a screen. And Humphries looked eager to level Westbrook on about five possessions in the first half.
- Speaking of carryover, Westbrook’s one-handed putback dunk with 8:40 left in the third was just nasty. It was third straight game that Westbrook has gotten a highlight slam. On Sunday at Houston, he had a poster dunk over Shane Battier. And on Monday, he posterized Hornets center Emeka Okafor.
- One thing I’m noticing a lot more lately is Westbrook is just throwing the ball up to Ibaka. Westbrook did it a lot at Houston and only a couple of times tonight.
- Anybody else concerned about Ibaka’s rebounding? It seems the more freedom he has to shoot, the less he’s focusing on grabbing boards. He’s pulled down seven or more only twice in the past seven games.
- James Harden looked great at times throughout this one getting to the rack. He still needs to work on finishing at the rim with consistency. But he showed flashes of his penetrating and playmaking ability and finished the night with 16 points and three assists. I thought it was his best game of the season, even better than his 23-point, nine-rebound, four-assists performance at Milwaukee. I still look at him as more than a spot-up shooter, and games like tonight’s prove that he can be.
- From a stats standpoint, Eric Maynor had an awful game by his standards. But something really subtle tonight spoke volumes to me about his skills in general. Maynor knows exactly what he’s going to do well before he starts doing it. Two plays pretty much summed it up for me, both coming in the second quarter. Maynor had a drive and dump off to Nick Collison. And he stopped and popped a little floater in transition off of Harden’s steal and save. You could see in his eyes he was setting up the defense the entire way on both.
- As is usually the case, Thabo Sefolosha won’t get a lot of credit after this one. But he deserves it. He had a couple of great steals on Morrow and his defense was smothering at times. And Sefolosha played a game-high 55 minutes.
- I’ve been waiting two-plus years to see D.J. White’s mid-range shooting in games. And now that he’s earned an opportunity, he no longer looks all that comfortable shooting it. He only had one real good look tonight, but he hesitated on that one and clanged it.
- I didn’t want to say it, but I have no choice. Damion James has the hairiest shoulders I’ve ever seen.
- Humprhies a nice role player. He reminds of the annoying player on the playground that gets under everyone’s skin. The guy you hate playing against but love having on your team. Strangely enough, I see him as a cross between Sefolosha and Collison.
- I can’t understand why the Nets aren’t playing Derrick Favors more. The best teacher is experience. And playing eight minutes in a triple overtime game isn’t giving the No. 3 overall pick any experience. After seeing how Thunder GM Sam Presti threw Jeff Green, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to the Wolves and accelerated their development, I’m convinced that that’s the way to go with young players. What’s the point of giving Humphries 39 minutes and Favors eight? The Nets might as well play the kid and let him grow, or go ahead and package him for Carmelo Anthony.
- By now you know Durant missed this game with a sprained left knee. I’m starting to sense that KD is much more animated when he’s on the bench in street clothes than when he’s actually playing the game.
- I might have missed it, but I didn’t see Malik Rose at halftime. And I wasn’t happy about that. But when I saw Rose in action for the first time this season in the post-game show, I was surprised at how uncomfortable he appeared.
- Brook Lopez finds a way to get his numbers. But boy is his game ugly. He’s mechanical and looks slow and awkward on all his low-post moves. But, hey, he must be doing something right. Fortunately for the Thunder, he was a turnover machine down the stretch in this one. Lopez almost single-handedly gift wrapped this one for OKC.
- I’ve always liked Jordan Farmar’s game. And he had himself quite a showing against Westbrook. If you could complain about anything with Westbrook tonight it would be his defense. On so many possessions, Farmar just flew by Westbrook. Something didn’t seem right there.
- As with any multiple overtime game there were a lot of numbers to play with in this one. There were 13 ties and 19 lead changes in this one.
- The game took 3 hours, 21 minutes.
- The Thunder is 3-0 without Durant. I’m not reading anything whatsoever into that record and neither should you. It’s just interesting.
- The last time the Thunder franchise played a triple overtime game came Dec. 1, 1990. A 130-124 loss to Portland.
- The Thunder is now 10-1 in games decided by seven points or less.
- OKC improved to 3-0 in overtime games.
- My math might be a little fuzzy on this one. But Brooks wanted about 72 traveling violations called on the Nets. He had a case for about 64 of them. Morrow shuffling his feet on inbound pass in the final seconds of the third overtime was the most laughable missed call. The ref was standing right there and swallowed his whistle.
- Here’s how good the Thunder has become at free throw shooting. OKC missed nine attempts and it felt like a whole lot.
- And finally, for as great as Westbrook, somehow he was an even zero in the good old plus-minus department. Go figure.
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