Observations from the Thunder’s 121-118 overtime loss Sunday night against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center:
- There are plenty of reasons why the Thunder lost this one: A lack of energy early; 24 turnovers resulting in 31 Denver points; getting outrebounded 50-39, including 20-11 at the offensive end; getting thoroughly dominated in the paint 66-36; getting doubled-up on second-chance points 18-9; Kevin Durant (7 for 20) and Russell Westbrook (10 for 26) combining to shoot just 17 for 46 (.370) from the field and 4 for 17 (.235) from 3-point range; plus three offensive fouls on illegal screen in the final three minutes of overtime.
The one aspect that clearly was the difference: The Thunder bench got outscored 57-18. That’s the most points the Denver bench has scored this season, which resulted in the most points OKC has given up so far this year.
Nuggets reserve forward Corey Brewer had 26 points. His career-high is 27. Wilson Chandler added a season-high 16 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes. Andre Miller had 11 points and JaVale McGee scored eight. Kevin Martin scored all 18 of the Thunder’s bench points (6 for 10 from the floor; 4 for 6 on 3s; 2 for 2 at the line). Collison took one shot in 19½ minutes of play and missed it. Reggie Jackson, Hasheem Thabeet and DeAndre Liggins also went scoreless in limited minutes.
As for those three offense fouls called against OKC in the final three minutes of overtime, let it go. Technically, they were fouls, but each one was ticky tack and unnecessary.
The officiating crew of Bill Spooner, Mark Lindsay and Zach Zarba struggled from the outset. The game was choppy with 48 turnovers (24 each), but the refs were the guys who called 61 fouls which led to 63 free-throw attempts.
It sure seemed like Spooner, Lindsay and Zarba did their darndest to get noticed tonight, and they were.
Afterward, the Thunder took the high road on the subject of officiating:
Coach Scott Brooks on : “One of the things we don’t do, we don’t complain. They call it as they see it. They do their job. I do my job and the players do their job. That’s neither here, or neither there. They outplayed us tonight.”
Collison: “Well, I’m sure if you rewound it, there was something technically wrong with it. History has told us late in games they (refs) usually let guys grab and hold. It’s more important for me to try and set (a screen) than to try and get technique. But, I’m sure I moved and he called it. Technically, I’m sure I moved because I wasn’t 100-percent set.”
Perkins: “We’ll just continue to set good screens. That’s what we do over here. That’s not going to stop us. It happens in the flow of the game. It’ll be like that some nights. You’ve just got to fight through it. You never know how the game is going to be determined.”
Speaking of Brooks, few details were made available on the death of his mother, Lee, who passed away Saturday. No obituary was found on the website of her hometown paper, the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin. Lee Brooks raised seven children on her own after her husband left home when Scott Brooks was 2.
Thunder officials asked reporters to be respectful during Sunday’s pre-game interview session and media complied. No questions pertaining to Lee Brooks were asked and Brooks instead accepted hugs and condolences from acquaintances he knew as a Nuggets assistant prior to joining the Nuggets.
The lone question about the death of Brooks’ mother was the final inquiry was left in post-game, which asked Brooks how he was doing emotionally. An obviously shaken Brooks softly answered, “I’m good. I’m good. I’m thankful and … I’m good. Thank you, everybody.” Brooks then bowed his head and walked away slowly.
Too bad Lee Brooks couldn’t have held on a little longer. The Thunder arrive in Sacramento early Thursday morning for a Friday game against the apparently soon-to-be-relocated Kings. Lee lives roughly an hour south of Sacramento.
Westbrook sizzled first half with 19 points, shooting 6 for 9 from the field and 7 for 8 from the line. In the second half and overtime, he shot just 4 for 17 from the floor and 1 for 6 from 3-point range, but he did have six assists and four rebounds after intermission.
OKC is now 4-1 in overtime games this season and 15-4 in overtime since 2010-11, the most overtime victories in the league in that same time span.
As if the current six-game, 10-day road trip wasn’t already long enough, the Thunder already has added two extra five-minute periods by going overtime in the first two stops at Dallas and Denver.
Sunday night’s loss to the Nuggets leaves the Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers with the best record s atop the NBA at 32-9 and they happen to meet Tuesday in LA.
Two days after going 21 for 21 at the free-throw line in an overtime win at Dallas, Durant went 20 for 21 at the line in an overtime loss at Denver. He hit his first 18 against the Nuggets before missing, which ended a run of 39 straight. In that same span, Durant is just 20 for 51 (.392) from the field.
Dating back to the 7:42 mark in the fourth quarter of the Portland game on Jan. 13, Durant made 56 of his last 58 (.966), which has helped lift him to third in the NBA in free-throw percentage at .909. Teammate Martin leads the league at .916, followed by Sacramento’s Jimmer Fredette at .914.
Speaking of Martin, he has shot considerably better at home than on the road. He entered the Denver game shooting 37.8 percent from the floor compared to 48.1 percent. His 3-point shooting is way off at 32.2 percent from the field on the road compared to 50.5 percent at home.
Martin on what wrong on the road: “I really don’t know. It’s kind of weird. I’ve been scoring in this league for so many years. For me to not to be playing up to par on the road, I’ve just got to keep playing my game and I really can’t worry about how I’m playing at home compared to on the road, because it’s all basketball.”
Up next: 32-9 vs. 32-9 at Staples Center at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry returns to this space and will take you through the remainder of this road trip.
- John Rohde