Thunder 84, Nets 74
Nuggets from my notebook from Saturday’s win at New Jersey.
- There was a TON of Thunder fans in the building tonight. I mean a ton!! I remember coming here two years ago and being shocked at how many fans were cheering for the Thunder. You’d have to times that reception by 35 to get a feel for what took place tonight. I asked my Twitter followers about two hours before the game who was coming to this one. I only got a handful of responses. But the reason I asked was because I figured it would be like this.
- Thunder jerseys, hats and sweatshirts were everywhere. I even say two fans with a sign that read “Fear The Beard.” Fans even cheered each and every Thunder starter when he was announced during pre-game introductions.
- Kevin Durant, who got an M-V-P chant from at least one fan late in the game, on the reception: “It feels good. We came a long way. I remember my first year when we played in Oklahoma, we played these guys here and it wasn’t hardly anybody in the stands. So a lot of people coming to support us makes us feel good. I’m excited that people are starting to like us and are starting to like us and come out to see us play.”
- The game itself wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was pretty darn ugly. But unlike three nights earlier at Washington, I’m sure ugly is fine for everybody who bleeds Thunder blue when OKC comes out on top.
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks rated tonight as one of his team’s best defensive performances. Hard to argue with that. OKC held the Nets to opponent lows of 31 percent shooting and 74 total points. The Nets came in leading the league with 26 average 3-point attempts. Against the Thunder, they went 3-for-23.
- The only rebuttal one could possible give Brooks is the Nets are absolutely brutal.
- You could tell the Thunder made it a point to defend the 3-point shot tonight. On three occasions, a Thunder player fouled a Nets shooter while contesting a 3. Reggie Jackson gave up a four-point play when he hacked Anthony Morrow on a last-second attempt in the first quarter. Russell Westbrook closed out too strong on Deron Williams in the third quarter. And Durant fouled DeShawn Stevenson behind the arc in the fourth quarter.
- I wrote a few games back about how everyone being in Jackson’s ear could have a negative short-term impact. We’re officially seeing it. Jackson hesitated on shots in the first and second quarter and is clearly over-thinking at this point. He now looks unsure of himself and too determined to do the right thing instead of playing naturally. It’s obvious that he has some natural scoring ability, but now that he’s been forced to play a certain style he’s looking lost out there at times.
- This was not one of the Thunder’s better nights offensively. And I’m not even talking about the season-low 84 points. That would be acceptable if it was a rhythmic game with ball movement and crisp sets. But the Thunder didn’t just miss shots tonight. OKC made it hard on itself at times with one-on-one play and poor ball security. In the end, this was the second straight night and sixth time this season that the Thunder finished with more turnovers (19) than assists (13).
- Durant had 20 points on 22 shots. Westbrook had 21 points on 21 shots.
- The saving grace for the Thunder offensively was scoring off turnovers. OKC had 22 points on 18 Nets turnovers. By halftime, the Thunder had 18 points on 12 Nets giveaways.
- No Jay-Z tonight. More importantly, no Beyonce.
- MarShon Brooks knows how to put the ball in the basket.
- MarShon Brooks was 4-for-6 in the first quarter and 2-for-11 the rest of the game.
- Deron Williams had 14 points on 5-for-18 shooting. He missed all six of his 3-point attempts. Combined, Brooks, Williams and Anthony Morrow scored 34 points on 13 of 48 shooting, going 1-for-14 from 3 with eight assists and seven turnovers. When put like that, it’s amazing the Thunder won by just 10.
- The Thunder won the rebounding game 55-46 but still gave up 16 offensive rebounds. It bumped the Thunder’s league-worst opponent offensive rebounding numbers to 13.5 per game. Once again, Thunder players were trying to use their length and athleticism to corral boards instead of boxing out.
- Thabo Sefolosha had a season-high nine boards. Durant pulled down a season-high 15 boards.
- Said Durant when asked about his rebounding: “That’s something that coach wants me to do. He said I can get 10 a game, so I’m just going to try to go out there and get 10 and play as hard as I can on both ends of the floor. I think if I help the bigs out it’ll make it much easier for us to push the ball and get easy points on the other end.”
- I totally forgot P.J. Carlesimo coached in New Jersey under Avery Johnson. It took me until the end of the first quarter, when I saw P.J. in the coach’s huddle, to realize it.
- Kris Humphries can play. It’s a shame he’s known more for that other thing.
- Serge Ibaka was a man possessed tonight. He blocked five shots and grabbed nine rebounds. His two most impressive rejections came on D-Will and Brooks. First, D-Will challenged Ibaka, I guess looking for a highlight dunk. Ibaka wasn’t having it. He stuffed it with a beautifully-timed block and then gave him the finger wag. Then, as Ibaka and Brooks were neck and neck on a fast break, Ibaka purposely let Brooks go by him just so he could beat that garbage up.
- Brooks trotted KD out there at the 4 for a time tonight. The Thunder was able to get away with it defensively because Durant was guarding our old friend Johan Petro.
- There were some questions about why tonight’s game was an 8 o’clock start. The New Jersey Devils had a game at 1 p.m.
- The Nets’ 35 points were an opponent low for any half this season by the Thunder.
- I can’t express to you how happy I am that the refs are no longer (for the most part) letting offensive players initiate contact by jumping into an oncoming defender. Mehmet Okur and Westbrook both tried that move in the first half. Both were rebuffed by the officials.
- Tony Brothers. Remember him? He actually helped you out tonight, Thunder heads. The Nets scored the opening basket on a dunk by Humphries that was clearly thrown down after the shot clock had expired. But the basket was not ruled late. When the Thunder took the ball down court, Brothers got referee Greg Willard’s attention and told him he could review that. Willard consented and gave the review sign to the scorer’s table. At the next timeout, the refs gathered at the monitor and overturned it. The decision made it 54-37, Thunder.
- Another thing I loved by the officials tonight. When Westbrook got whistled for a tech late in the fourth quarter for arguing what he thought was a no-call on a drive, Leroy Richardson waited until the Nets missed a shot so he didn’t interrupt their fast break.
- What’s with all the ref love from me tonight?
- James Harden salvaged something of this three game trip by scoring 19 points on 5-for-9 shooting. In the first two games of this three-game trip, Harden averaged just nine points on 5-for-16 shooting (31.2 percent). Tonight, he added a career-high nine boards and had two assists.
- Is it me or did Westbrook and Nick Collison look like they had some chemistry tonight? Could that be developing? Westbrook hit Collison with a sweeter than sweet pass on one first half pick-and-roll.
- New Jersey’s scoring by quarter through the first three: 18, 17, 16. I was so hoping for a 15-point Nets fourth.
- Before the game, I got Durant’s reaction to Westbrook’s extension. “He deserves every penny of it,” Durant said.
- KD missed four foul shots tonight. He was 46 of 48 in his previous six games.
- Up next. At home against Detroit on Monday.
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