By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
In a dominant end-to-end effort, Oklahoma City beat Toronto 108-88 on Tuesday night in Chesapeake Energy Arena. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Kevin Durant sunk two free throws with 7:43 left in the first quarter, giving OKC a 10-9 lead. The Thunder would never relinquish that lead, finishing the first quarter on a 24-8 run and cruising to an easy and expected mid-week win.
It was over when…
…the ball was tipped. Oklahoma City came in motivated and mad, frustrated with their recent play and knowing a 1-2 record isn’t near indicative of the team’s talent. With a young and overwhelmed roster, Toronto never had a chance. Especially in The Peake.
Star of the game – Hasheem Thabeet
You really could have picked any of the Thunder players, so why not the feel-good story of the first week? Thabeet has been giving OKC great minutes at the backup center, allowing the recovering Kendrick Perkins to sit for extended stretches and silencing any thought that throwing Cole Aldrich in the Houston trade was a bad idea. He’s been active and impactful on the defensive end, blocking two shots and grabbing five rebounds on Tuesday. And he’s been surprisingly adequate on offense, catching, finishing and hitting free throws during his rare opportunities. His 10 points on Tuesday tied a career-high, done only three other times in his career (last one on March 22, 2010).
Durant’s scoring slump
Not much he could do tonight. Because of the end-to-end blowout, OKC’s star forward was limited to 29 minutes and only 15 points (on 4-11 shooting). But even before tonight’s game, Durant’s scoring has been down in the early going. He’s yet to eclipse 23 points in any of the four games, a longer streak (of scoring 23 or less) than he had at any point last season. I’m not (nor should Thunder fans be) worried about it. He’s a proven scorer in this league (understatement) and will turn it on eventually. Just something to keep an eye on.
I haven’t watched a full game from every NBA team this season, but from what I’ve seen, it’s hard to imagine a squad much worse than the Raptors (check back with me tomorrow, I’ve got to catch a Bobcats game). Toronto’s starting lineup has a couple nice pieces, but after that, the rotation is filled with cast-offs and projects. And Landry Fields? Three years and $20 million for a guy averaging two points and one assist. That’s got to be the worst move of this NBA offseason.
Tweet of the game
A little bold from Darnell (and I know he was joking), but I’d definitely award him Sixth Man of the Night. Which, at this point in his career, is a pretty nice accomplishment.
Observation of the game
Will be interesting to see who takes it from game to game.
Video of the game
Was there any doubt?
Oklahoma City travels to Chicago for a Thursday night battle with the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. The star guard’s absence takes a bulk of the intrigue out of this matchup, but a prime time road test on TNT against Tom Thibodeau’s defense still will provide a nice test.