Thunder Rumblings

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Nuggets from my notebook from Friday's win at Brooklyn

by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 1, 2014

Ten and counting…

  • One streak ended. The most important one continued. That was the story of the game Friday at Brooklyn. Kevin Durant’s streak of games with at least 30 points ended at 12. But the Thunder’s winning streak got bumped to 10.
  • Durant finished with 26 points, making 10 of 12 shots in 30 minutes of work. He didn’t play the fourth quarter.
  • “If he cared about the streak, he should have never missed the two shots,” joked Scott Brooks. “That’s on him. You can’t blame that on me.”
  • A more serious Brooks said he never considered reinserting Durant for the fourth quarter to shoot for extending the streak. “It doesn’t even matter to him. I’ve been around him for several years. It’s not important. He’s a team guy. He’s about winning.”
  • Durant sounded relieved that the streak ended. Like, genuinely. “Man, I’m glad that’s over with,” he said. “I’d much rather take the win. That’s my type of game, just playing how is played. If they’re doubling, make the pass. Play easy. I wasn’t trying to force anything. That streak was good while it lasted but that was the last of my concerns. I’m glad we won.”
  • Durant explaining why playing “the right way” is so important to him: “That’s how you win games is playing the right way on both ends. It’s easy for me to try to force it and keep the streak alive, but we needed this win because they beat us last time and that got them going. That got their season going. So we just wanted to come in here and try to get better from when we played them last and get the ‘W.’
  • One more from Brooks on why he didn’t ask Durant if he wanted to play the fourth: “I would never ask him, because I know the answer. I wouldn’t do that. But he’s going to be in this league for a long time, and he’s going to have streaks like this probably again. It’s not like he played a bad basketball game. I mean, he did have 30 points.”
  • One more from Durant, explaining why he is glad the streak is over: “I hate taking the credit when our whole team is going out there and playing well. It was cool, don’t get me wrong. It’s something not to be taken for granted. But I’d rather our team get the credit than just myself.”
  • Thabo Sefolosha on Durant’s team-first approach as a passer tonight: “That’s the type of player he is. He’s so talented that he can get a shot off probably every time and it’s going to be a decent shot. But at that same time, he runs plays and makes guys around him a lot better. That’s the staple of a true MVP, a true champion.”
  • Deron Williams on Durant: “Crazy. What he’s doing right now is just crazy. The end of the year, it’s going to be hard to argue about the MVP of this league with what he’s doing right now, carrying the team without Westbrook. He’s one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.”
  • You know who I feel awful for? Shaun Livingston. Dude played some really good defense on KD but still got lit up. Durant scored 22 of his 26 on Livingston. The other four came on a pair of technical foul shots and a jumper on Reggie Evans. What’s worse, Livingston sort of had his way on offense, too, scoring a team-high 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting. He added four rebounds, an assist and three steals. And all he’s going to see if he tunes into SportsCenter is Durant splashing in shots in his face.
  • Durant’s passing was amazing tonight. He finished with seven assists but set up teammates for many, many more open looks. He committed himself to making the right pass even when he could have hoisted a shot. There were a bunch of sequences that illustrated this tonight. But one that really stood out came with just under seven minutes to play in the second quarter. Perry Jones III had just gotten his stuff swatted emphatically at the rim by Kevin Garnett. The ball trickled out to Durant, almost at halfcourt, as the Barclays Center crowd cheered the forceful rejection. Durant scooped up the ball, put it on the floor and started to drive to the basket. But instead of taking it all the way and silencing the crowd, which he could have easily done, especially on this night, he kicked it right back to PJ3 in the left corner. And Jones drilled the 3. Not only did Durant trust his teammate, but he also instilled more confidence in him after a play that could have made it crumble.
  • Durant went 8-for-9 in the first half, an 88.9 percent clip that marked the highest field-goal percentage for him in any half this season.
  • Durant scored or assisted teammates on 19 of the Thunder’s 30 first-quarter points. The Nets totaled just 16 points in the period.
  • Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins scored 29 of the Thunder’s 30 first-quarter points.
  • Perkins was particularly good early around the rim, using a nice little jump hook and runner to get some early offense.
  • Perk: eight points, eight rebounds, one block. Garnett: 0 points, 1 rebound, one block.
  • This was the first time since Garnett’s rookie season that he’s been held scoreless. It’s happened only four times. The last time was Jan. 27, 1996. That’s a streak of 1,322 games that just got snapped.
  • The Nets set an NBA record for fewest rebounds in a game with 17. “They shot almost 70 percent so they didn’t have too many misses,” Nets coach Jason Kidd reasoned. “They rebounded all of our misses. They out-rebounded us. It happens.”
  • OKC’s 63.6 percent shooting was an NBA season high. The previous high was Miami’s 63.4 percent.
  • Ibaka had a monster game. Scored 25 points on 12-for-12 shooting while adding a game-high nine rebounds. Durant was asked after the game whether he passed his hot hand to Ibaka. “He’s hot on his own,” Durant said. “He’s been shooting that well for the last month. And I think he got snubbed from the All-Star Game, too. He’s been playing well. He’s been definitely giving us a lift on both ends of the floor with his shooting and his offensive rebounding. He’s doing a great job for us.”
  • Over the past five games, Ibaka is shooting 47-for-69 (68 percent). He’s scored at least 20 points in four of those five.
  • Go back and watch Ibaka’s first half tonight. This dude is now consistently coming off curls ready, willing and able to shoot. He’s stepping into passes, setting his feet and firing away. I can’t stress how impressive that is. There probably aren’t four power forwards doing that. Matter of fact, other than Dirk who else does?
  • Got to love how the Thunder was ahead by 30 and Durant and Ibaka were still trying to iron out kinks in the third quarter. Also got to love how the Thunder, not just Durant, just kept playing the right way despite its massive lead.
  • Jones had a heck of a recovery on the crossover by D-Will that shook him in the second quarter. Jones regrouped in time to make up the distance and block the Williams’ shot. That length is scary.
  • How many guys in the league would PJ3 lose a jump ball to? Two? Three?
  • Here’s how well the Thunder played tonight. Reggie Jackson, on some nights the team’s second best scoring option at the moment, didn’t score his first points until the 8:35 mark of the second quarter. It put OKC ahead 38-21.
  • If you watched any of the fourth quarter instead of enjoying your Friday night, I’m going to pray for you.
  • Up next: at Washington on Saturday.
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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