Nuggets from my notebook from Wednesday’s loss to the Nets.
- The first half was about as bad as we’ve seen the Thunder play in a half in the last three years. Brooklyn did whatever it wanted. Scored in the paint. Drained shots, open and contested, from downtown. Beat the Thunder in transition. Dominated the boards. Forced turnovers. Forced bad shots…whatever.
- The Nets led 23-9 early before the lead just continued to grow: 16, 18, 21, 22, 23.
- It took just 21 minutes for the Thunder to trail by 23 points in a game at home, where it came in having won a league-best 12 straight.
- It wasn’t that the Thunder wasn’t trying. That was at least encouraging. After the Nets got up by about 14, you could see that the players were playing as hard as they could to get back in it. Brooklyn just wasn’t having it.
- Kevin Durant: “They picked us apart. They were making 3s, hitting jumpers and they were hot. They were hot tonight so you’ve got to give them credit.”
- That third quarter was a solid period of basketball. The Thunder got with it and started defending at one end and moving the ball to get better shots at the other. The end result was a 27-15 quarter in favor of OKC. It trimmed a 16-point halftime deficit to four entering the final period and nearly was enough to spur the Thunder to a win.
- Scott Brooks: “We had one good quarter in that third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to win the game.”
- Russell Westbrook says you shouldn’t flip out. “(We’re in a) good spot,” he said. “There’s no need to panic. I think every time we lose around here everybody wants to go bananas. We lost a game. It’s all right.”
- I’m not saying go bananas. I’d never say do that. But the Thunder hasn’t exactly played well lately. You can say OKC is 24-7 and yada yada ya. But the fact of the matter is this team has had some extremely disturbing stretches, periods or halves. This team is good enough to win on most nights, and that’s precisely what it’s done for the most part. But believe me, what we’re watching right now in no way is the identity this team wants to have. There’s too much inconsistency. Too many breakdowns. This team’s goal this season and beyond is to sustain a level of performance, against good teams and bad, and right now that just isn’t happening.
- Nick Collison: “We haven’t played perfect basketball, for sure. It’s really hard to do that in the NBA. We always have something to work toward and get better and we’re definitely not there yet.”
- More from Collison: “We want to be better. I think we’re at the point where we see our mistakes and we know when we’re not playing well, when we don’t have enough. I think we knew that tonight so we have to change it.”
- This was the Thunder’s largest home loss since Halloween 2010. On that night, Utah pummeled the Thunder by 21.
- Durant got ejected for the first time in his career tonight. It came with 1:57 left in the ballgame after he expressively disputed what he believed was a no-call.
“I said it was a bad call,” Durant said when asked what he said to get tossed. “They got a quick trigger now on techs. I think I’m allowed to be frustrated, especially in this league (that’s) full of ups and downs. Players are allowed to be frustrated. It is what it is. (I’ll) move on from it.
- I found it interesting that even while Durant was storming off the court he still gave high fives to his fans near the tunnel. “KD is not nice?” Yeah right.
- Reggie Evans flopped late in the second quarter against KD. No doubt about it. He should be penalized accordingly.
- Kendrick Perkins had seven of his season-high 11 rebounds in the third quarter. He was great cleaning the defensive glass tonight and did a good job of making Brook Lopez work for anything he got in the paint. Mostly, Lopez drained jumpers.
- I couldn’t help but question why Brooks brought Perk back with 5:58 left to play though. This is becoming a recurring theme. To be clear, it’s not a knock on Perk. It’s just the same old issue with situational substitution that Scotty doesn’t seem to subscribe to. The Thunder had tied the game at 85-all with its more efficient small ball lineup in. OKC scored 13 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. When Perkins checked in with 5:58 remaining, the Thunder scored just eight points over those final six minutes. Again, I’m not blaming the offense growing stagnant on Perk. (The Thunder made its third quarter run with him out there). But why change what’s working? And why not have an additional player who can score and supply defense as opposed to a player who is mostly defensive-minded? Sefolosha could have stayed in, Durant could have defended Kris Humphries and Serge Ibaka could have covered Lopez. Or throw Reggie Jackson out there. Or even Jeremy Lamb. Either way, it’s been proven time and time again that in games like these the Thunder needs a smaller, more athletic and more potent lineup on the floor.
- Brooks on his decision: “I knew we needed to get some stops with Lopez. He had a good game on all of us tonight. It was just a matter of we win a lot of games with Perk and we decided to continue to go with how we win. We have to win with our bigs. We have to win with our screen-setting. We have to win with our toughness. And Perk is one of our best screen-setters and one of our tough guys.”
- I must also mention that Lopez scored eight points in those final six minutes. Again, the Thunder had eight as a team over that same span.
- Brooklyn scored 30 points off 20 Thunder turnovers. That was pretty significant tonight.
- Kevin Martin is just 5-for-22 in the past two games. Over the past three he’s 11-for-36. He was 3-for-10 tonight. It seems like he’s taking it upon himself to shoot more. Perhaps it’s because he’s frozen out at times. Perhaps the coaches have told him to be more aggressive. Either way, it hasn’t really worked over the last three games.
- Up next. Philadelphia on Friday.