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Nuggets from my notebook from Saturday's win over the Bucks

by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 11, 2014
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Bucks basketball is not a visually-pleasing experience…

  • Forget the opponent or how it looked. The Thunder needed to win this game. For real. A loss would have set off alarms from Bethany to Bartlesville. And even though it came against the Bucks, the Thunder took care of business and got the ‘W.’
  • Kevin Durant was the player of the game with 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
  • But I was most impressed with Jeremy Lamb.
  • Lamb had a horrible shooting night two nights earlier at Denver. But the way he bounced back, making six of 10 for 17 points, and sparked his team in the second half was extremely impressive.
  • When the Bucks battled back from 12 down to take a 54-52 lead, Lamb ignited an 11-2 run by scoring eight straight points. He started his rally with a blocked shot on Brandon Knight. He then hit a 3, and then made a layup, and then hit another 3.
  • Lamb: “They played a little zone, and for shooters a zone is a great thing. And my teammates found me. Even though I had some terrible games (lately), my teammates still trusted me, coaches still trusted me, and I was able to knock some down.”
  • Scott Brooks on Lamb: “I love what Jeremy did tonight. He didn’t shoot the ball well last game and wanted to come back better like all of our guys do. And he bounced back. He showed a lot of toughness. These are steps that he has taken this year and he has to continue to take. We’re seeing his growth right in front of our eyes.”
  • But back to Durant, because you don’t just write one sentence and move on from a 33/10/7.
  • Durant has been spewing this nonsense over the past two days about needing to be better. About needing to take fewer shots, smarter shots and making more plays for his teammates. But tonight, he did just that and you can’t argue with the results. He appeared a little trigger shy early on, clearly passing up good looks in an attempt to get great looks. It led to a few mistakes, mostly from over-passing. But he soon settled in and started making the right plays. And he attempted only 18 shots for his 33 points.
  • Durant: “I just tried to take what the defense gives me, and they gave me some wide open looks. I had to take them. Other than that, I don’t think I forced any shots or took bad ones. I’m just trying to find my teammates and get them going.”
  • On a related note, Durant dished at least one assist to four teammates tonight. He set up Serge Ibaka for three makes, Thabo Sefolosha for two and Lamb and Derek Fisher for one apiece. Durant’s passes produced another 17 points. Pretty good night.
  • It helps when KD’s supporting cast makes shots. That’s why I say he’s spewing nonsense. He can’t pass them the ball and put it in the basket for them.
  • Anybody else see Durant and Gary Neal talking all secretly in front of the scorer’s table at the end of the game? I know they’re both from Maryland. But I don’t care. Conspiracy!!
  • Ibaka had 17 points. Sefolosha had 14. Fisher had 10. It feels like forever since the Thunder had five guys in double figure scoring.
  • Reggie Jackson: two points, 1-for-8 shooting and a benching in the fourth quarter. Rough night for Reggie. He didn’t have it at all. But I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
  • Because Jackson struggled so much, Fish played the entire fourth quarter. Can’t complain about it this time. It was the right call by Brooks.
  • But you just knew Jackson had no shot at atoning for his first three quarters after Fish put in consecutive jumpers early in the fourth.
  • Fish and former NBA guard Nick Van Exel, now an assistant with Milwaukee, had a real spirited discussion right after the buzzer. Wonder what that was all about.
  • If you watched the first half of this from home instead of the NFL playoffs, you are passionate about your Thunder.
  • I’m not going to get into how bad the first half was because I’d like to forget all about it.
  • I’ll leave it at this from Durant: “To be honest, all we wanted to focus on was defense. Maybe that’s why our offense wasn’t so good.”
  • Durant had a scary moment midway through the second quarter. He hit the deck HARD after going for the chase-down block on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jackson inadvertently undercut Durant, causing the hard landing. After rolling around for a moment and getting attended to by a member of the team’s medical staff, Durant was helped up by teammates and walked back to the bench while holding his left wrist. He stayed in the game and immediately hit a 3. Then scored on a driving layup. Then filled the lane and finished the break with a dunk. At that point, he was no longer a concern.
  • Durant on the fall: “That fall woke me up. One of my friends texted me after the game and said when I fell he dropped to his knees and prayed for me. So I guess that helped, too.”
  • Brooks on that fall: “I don’t know if it woke him up, but it sure helped our second half.”
  • Really liked what I saw from Antetokounmpo. Two things really stood out. In the first half, he missed a shot at the rim and started to hang his head. But he caught himself and quickly busted his butt back on defense. That was incredibly impressive out of a 19-year-old rookie. You don’t see that out of, ahem, certain All-Stars. Then, on the opening possession of the third quarter, the Bucks put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands and let him bring the ball up. Durant tried to harass him the length of the floor, but Antetokounmpo embraced the challenge, handled the pressure and not only got it across but also stuck with it and earned two free throws. I’d like to see more before hoping on the “Greek Freak” train. But I’m close.
  • Khris Middleton guarded KD while wearing KDs. On a related note, Khris Middleton scored eight points on 3-for-14 shooting. I’m not making this stuff up, people!
  • Score another one for Steven Adams. Got Larry Sanders ejected tonight after physical play between the two led to Sanders throwing two elbows at Adams. Best part about it all? Immediately after the play, Adams turns and unleashes a sly smile to his bench.
  • Up next: at Memphis on Tuesday.

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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