Thunder 119, Warriors 116
Nuggets from my notebook from Tuesday’s win at Golden State.
- The Warriors got off to an 8-0 run after converting wide open jumpers and getting into the paint with ease. Meanwhile, the Thunder looked out of sync offensively early and couldn’t get shots to drop. In those first two minutes, it looked like this just might not be the Thunder’s night. Looked like the overtime thriller at Portland had taken its toll.
- Then Russell Westbrook decided to do something about his team’s sluggish start. Westbrook scored a layup on an ultra-aggressive and athletic attack. Then another one, both three-point plays. Then a pair of pull-ups. Before you knew it, the Thunder had tied it up at 14-all.
- Kevin Durant didn’t really have it going early. He missed his first three shots, all good looks, and just didn’t appear to be in rhythm. And just when you thought KD just didn’t have it, the guy starts throwing in off-balanced leaners for and-ones. Crazy how good he is.
- Durant finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. He would have had his first career triple-double had Serge Ibaka not blown at least two of his set-ups.
- Warriors forward David Lee actually did have a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Remember when everyone in OKC wanted the Thunder to break the bank to sign him?
- You’ve got to be happy with the win. But defensively, the Thunder left a lot to be desired. The Warriors’ point total was an opponent season high (116), Golden State shot lights out (55 percent), the Thunder had no answer for Monta Ellis (game and career-high 48 points) and OKC struggled once again in the pick-and-roll and defending the three-point line (9-of-21).
- Said Durant: “We want to strive toward perfection. We want to be one of those teams that are looked at as a really good team, and tonight we kind of had too many lapses. As a leader, I’m a little upset at myself for letting that happen. Of course we’re happy about the win. But the stuff that went on in the game, we have to correct it and try to get better. We don’t want to have games like this every game. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board.”
- The best thing you can take from this one is the Thunder showed again that it can play fast and win a shootout. The more versatile the Thunder is the better. But, really, this team is built to win shootouts. It’s the slow-paced, grind-it-out, games that require halfcourt efficiency that the Thunder still needs to prove it can consistently win. When the Thunder figures out both styles, it will be a dangerous, dangerous team come playoff time.
- There was a mysterious score change at the end of the third quarter that appeared controversial at first. What had happen’ was the refs went back and ruled a 3 by Westbrook with 4:18 remaining in the third period was actually a two. That changed the score from 93-92 going into the fourth quarter to 93-91, Warriors, at the start of the final period.
- The Thunder is now 6-1 in games decided by four points or less.
- Nazr Mohammed had brought it the past two games. He scored all eight of his points during a 13-2 run the second unit used to start the second period. Between his scoring tonight and his rebounding at Portland, I figure that will silence Thunder heads clamoring for Cole Aldrich at least until, oh, Thursday.
- What I liked best about Naz’s game tonight? His stand-still block of Ekpe Udoh. Naz just put his arms straight up and stuffed Udoh on a post move. Made him look like a little kid.
- Durant said he didn’t call glass on his go-ahead jumper. What is it about the Thunder and bank shots at Golden State?
- The first quarter was disturbing. For the fourth time this season — the fourth time in the past six games — the Thunder has allowed an opponent to score at least 30 points in the opening period. Golden State had 35 tonight.
- For as athletic as he is, Serge Ibaka looses a lot of jump balls.
- Ellis’ 48 points broke Tony Parker’s individual scoring record against the Thunder this season. Parker, of course, had 42 last Saturday at San Antonio. OKC was one LaMarcus Aldridge point away from allowing three straight 40-point games to three different players. That probably hasn’t happened that often.
- Ellis scored 40 points in 26 minutes tonight. Is he an All-Star?
- I appreciate Thabo Sefolosha’s contributions as much as anyone. I do. But I refuse to believe that he single-handedly makes that big of a difference to the Thunder’s defense. Does he help? Yes. Is he a game-changer at times? No doubt. But some of what we’re seeing now can’t possibly be justified solely by saying Sefolosha is absent.
- Speaking of Sefolosha. He told me tonight that he could be back any day now. But he ruled out Thursday’s game. It’s possible he returns Friday at Utah. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if the coaching and medical staffs gave it two more games and let him rest over the weekend and prepare for a return next Tuesday at home against Utah.
- At one point late in the third quarter, both teams combined to make 17 of 29 3-pointers. The teams finished a combined 20-of-47 from long range.
- The Thunder took nine 3s in the final seven minutes of the third quarter!
- Before the game, Warriors coach and former ABC and ESPN color commentator Mark Jackson weighed in on Blake Griffin’s dunk on Kendrick Perkins. Someone asked Jackson if as a defensive-minded coach he appreciated Perk challenging the dunk. “We can dress it up all we want,” Jackson said. “But it was a thing of beauty. And I would have probably said ‘Mama, there goes that man.’”
- In the same breath, Jackson actually complimented Perk for the play. “The thing you love about Kendrick Perkins is if you had to rewind, he’d do the same exact thing. He really could care less being in a poster for Blake Griffin. He was part of the rotation. It was his responsibility. The beautiful thing is, watching it, here’s what I’m thinking, ”The next one somebody’s getting hit.’ That shows how much I think of Kendrick Perkins, his professionalism, his old-school mentality. I felt sorry for the next guy that tried it. Fortunately, it didn’t take place that night. But he’s a guy that’s a pro and certainly completes that Thunder basketball team.”
- Booing must be a language in the Bay Area. These fans never stop.
- The Thunder pulled off a slightly different version of the skip pass tonight, or at least one I’d never seen. James Harden was about three steps across halfcourt near the sideline, lulling his defender to sleep with his dribble and an occasional jab. All of a sudden, Harden skipped it across to Daequan Cook, who of course benefited from a beautiful back screen by Nick Collison. Cook swished it in rhythm while falling down out of bounds.
- Collison had the typical Nick Collison type of game. I thought his rebounding and screens were difference-makers.
- I learned that the Warriors have a skip pass, too. Wasn’t as nice as the Thunder’s. But the pass was from Lee, which deserves some major credit since it came from a big man.
- One night after I wrote that I hadn’t said much about Collison taking many charges this year, he drew another one. This one was on Klay Thompson.
- Harden had another nice offensive game on the road. That’s three straight now.
- Nine turnovers for Westbrook. Four came in the first half. No other player had turned it over in the first 24 minutes. I understand the guy has the ball in his hands a lot, and he’s a scoring point guard. But as some point, he’s got to cut down on those.
- Up next. At Sacramento on Thursday night.
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