Thunder Rumblings

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Nuggets from my notebook from the Thunder's loss at Minnesota

by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 1, 2013
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So you thought the opener was ugly…

  • Bad news, folks. The blueprint on how to beat the Thunder is out. Minnesota made quick work of OKC tonight by using that formula, and, in the weeks to come, you can be sure every other team will try to do the same. Without Russell Westbrook, teams are loading up on Kevin Durant and daring his Thunder teammates to beat them. And through two games, they can’t. That’s the dirty little secret that has spread about Oklahoma City’s offense.
  • Again tonight, as he experienced in the opener, Durant got doubled on nearly every post touch and stared at a maze of waiting defenders whenever he isolated his defender on the wing. Utah tried it but Durant was too good and the Jazz weren’t good enough. But when a far superior Wolves team did the same tonight, the result was the worst loss for the Thunder since a 23-point defeat at Orlando on February 25, 2011.
  • Against the Jazz, the Thunder’s role players were just as ineffective as they were tonight. The only difference is Durant could carry OKC with a 42-point effort in Utah.
  • Durant, after just two games, now has a choice to make. Continue to trust these same streaky teammates, or put on his cape, transform into Superman and try to score however much is needed for the Thunder to ride out this violent wave without Westbrook?
  • For now, Durant says he’ll keep trusting. Keep passing. Keep supplying his teammates with confidence and hope they become effective enough to open things up for him. But it’s a balancing act Durant admits he has yet to master. “That’s still what I’m learning,” Durant said. “I got to keep trusting my teammates first and foremost. But sometimes, when the shots are not falling, if they’re not hitting them, maybe I got to be a little bit more aggressive against the double team. I just got to figure it out.”
  • I fully expect the Thunder to thump Phoenix on Sunday. But don’t expect that to solve the current issues. Go ahead and chalk up that soon-to-b  feel-good victory as lipstick on a pig.
  • Through two games, Serge Ibaka is 7-for-28 from the field. Emphasis on two games. Through two games last year, Ibaka had 11 points on 5 of 18 shooting. But Westbrook was around back then. The cause for concern now is Ibaka perhaps being unable to be effective offensively without Westbrook. The nine-game sample from last year’s postseason highlighted how much Ibaka needs Westbrook. These first two games could be confirming it.
  • With that said, Ibaka is missing a bunch of shots he normally makes.
  • But Ibaka is also taking some shots he shouldn’t be taking. Four 3s tonight? Isolations?? Off balanced shots out of post ups???
  • The entire team didn’t know when to say when in this one. It was one jump shot after another. While the Wolves were getting high percentage shots (in other words, layup after layup), the Thunder just kept jacking Js.
  • The Thunder took 31 3-pointers…and made seven. And two of those came in garbage time. Three of the other five were from Ibaka, Perry Jones III and Nick Collison. That’s a problem.
  • Thabo Sefolosha had a pretty impressive game to have scored four points on 1-for-8 shooting. He just never stopped hustling, and on several possessions kept plays alive by coming up with sneaky steals or scrambling for loose balls.
  • The points in the paint discrepancy early on was 20-4 in favor of Minnesota. It ballooned to 42-14 and ended up 44-20.
  • Fast break points: Wolves 17, Thunder 2.
  • If the secret being out on the Thunder was the takeaway from the game, turnovers were the story of it. OKC turned it over early and often, coughing it up three times in the opening minutes and effectively setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Thunder finished with 21 turnovers, leading to 25 points.
  • Scott Brooks: “We got to take care of the ball. We’re giving a very good offensive team easy possessions by our turnovers…We got to do a much better job of really valuing the basketball. We can’t talk about it. We got to start doing it.”
  • The turnovers came in a variety of ways. Sloppy passes, over-dribbling, discontinued dribble, illegal screens and offensive fouls. The sloppy passes and over-dribbling were the most disturbing.
  • Durant saw the same thing I saw. “We dribbled the ball too much, we played in a crowd, and we made risky passes,” he said.
  • Reggie Jackson had a game-high seven turnovers tonight. He was the biggest over-dribbling culprit. Maybe he was trying to force his way into the paint. I don’t know. But either way, he was a ball stopper tonight and did way too much dribbling.
  • At halftime, the Thunder had 13 turnovers and 13 made field goals.
  • Some questionable calls, for sure. But for the most part, the Thunder really couldn’t defend the Wolves without fouling. Another thing that hurt tonight. Seven Thunder players had at least three fouls. Ten of the 12 that played had at least one.
  • The biggest lead was 34 by the Wolves.
  • The Thunder allowed 29 first-quarter points in the opener and 34 first-quarter points tonight. Slow starts are here again.
  • Good news: after dishing nine assists Wednesday, the Thunder had 16 tonight.
  • Bad news: the Thunder now has 25 assists and 35 turnovers.
  • Durant before the game: “Ever since I got in the league, every game against the Wolves has been either a great game or a blowout. Either they blow us out, or we beat them pretty bad.”
  • Durant after the game: “They just kicked our ass tonight.”
  • Kendrick Perkins ranked the romp right up there as the worst he’s been a part of as a member of the Thunder, adding that the thrashing was one the team won’t want to sit through in the film room Saturday.
  • Jeremy Lamb’s finish was, I guess, a bright spot. He scored 14 of his career-high 16 points (on 6-for-11 shooting) in the second half. He made two of five 3-point attempts. Maybe it was good for him to see the ball go in the basket. We’ll see.
  • Collison: “We’re not playing very well offensively right now.”
  • Collison with some thoughts on how to counter team’s daring anyone but Durant to beat them: “We got to play a better brand of basketball. We can’t just try to force-fed him the ball. We’ve been saying it for a while now. We need to play better offensively. That sounds very vague, but the offense has to be better, the passes, the cuts, we need to move the ball and get easier shots with ball movement, the natural shots. We can’t force-fed him. We can’t play like that. We’re not going to be successful.”
  • Up next. Phoenix on Sunday.

-DM-


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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