Thunder Rumblings

NewsOK | BLOGS

Nuggets from my notebook from Sunday's loss at Phoenix

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 7, 2014 at 9:00 am •  Published: April 7, 2014
Advertisement
;
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, center, collides with Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) during the first half of an NBA basketball game as Suns' Eric Bledsoe watches on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns won 122-115. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, center, collides with Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) during the first half of an NBA basketball game as Suns' Eric Bledsoe watches on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns won 122-115. (AP Photo/Matt York)

I think these guys are ready for the playoffs. But are they?…

  • Tough loss tonight. Tough way to lose. The Thunder got torched again at Phoenix and saw its defense take a step back.
  • The Suns pretty much did whatever they wanted. They got into the paint. They got open 3s. And they got to the free throw line.
  • Goran Dragic looked like Magic Johnson out there in the second quarter. Nobody on the Thunder could stop him. He scored 19 of the Suns’ 34 points in that period, making 8-of-10 shots and both of his 3s.
  • Scott Brooks went into halftime having seen enough. He started Derek Fisher in place of Andre Roberson for the second half. “We knew going into the game that we were going to have some concerns with their small guards,” Brooks said. “Dragic has 19 in the first half. I thought we did a much better job in the second half. He ended up with six or seven in the second half. That’s what they do. They present problems because they have two aggressive, very good point guards starting for their backcourt.”
  • When the Thunder neutralized Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker took over. Bledsoe finished two points shy of giving the Suns four 20-point scorers.
  • Phoenix shot 58.4 percent.
  • The Suns scored a combined 66 points in the second and third quarters.
  • Through three quarters, Phoenix was shooting 59.1 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from the foul line.
  • Are the Suns simply a bad matchup for the Thunder? Maybe. The only thing really stopping me from conceding that they are is Thabo Sefolosha’s absence.
  • Well, allow me to say this as well. The Thunder continues to trot out a starting lineup that isn’t conducive to the Suns style of play. It’s similar to what we see against Miami and at times Houston, especially in last year’s postseason. I couldn’t help but wonder how much better off the Thunder might have been if Serge Ibaka played Miles Plumlee, Kevin Durant played Channing Frye and then one of the Morris twins when they came in, Caron Butler was put on Tucker or Green, and Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson were on Dragic and Bledsoe. That way Ibaka isn’t guarding a 3-point shooter from the start, and the Thunder becomes better suited for switching. The one-big lineup definitely seems like the way to go against the Suns.
  • Brooks did play small a lot in this one, which gave Jeremy Lamb minutes and kept Steven Adams on the bench all night. Adams was the only remaining Thunder player to play in every game. Not anymore.
  • Lamb got lit up in the fourth as Phoenix picked on him with whomever he was covering. Mostly, it was Tucker. But he got some from Green, too. As he struggled to defend Tucker and Green on both the block and the perimeter, Lamb was called for three fouls in 15 seconds. He was whistled for four fouls in a one-minute, 19 second span. Rough stretch.
  • Brooks on what he wants Lamb to take away from this one: “You’re going to have to play strong. This is a very strong, offensive-minded league, especially in the West. There’s so many good teams that can score in the West. He’s been learning as the season’s gone. His strength is on the offensive end. But he’s learning to be a better defender.”
  • People on my Twitter timeline were killing Lamb. To that I say slow down. The man had a bad two minutes. I’ve seen enough quality minutes and, more importantly, effort out of him defensively to continue to think he’ll be fine on that end. It didn’t help that Lamb was yielding 50 pounds in his matchup with Tucker.
  • Durant had 25 points and nine rebounds in the second half.
  • Of course, that means KD passed Michael Jordan to move into sole possession of third place on the all-time list of consecutive games with at least 25 points. Congratulations, KD. It’s got to feel great? “I don’t really care about it,” Durant said. “I wish it was over.”
  • Way too many 3s by Durant and Westbrook tonight. The two combined for 24. The Suns took 23. Defense was the problem in this one, not offense. But those shots didn’t help. They were just as bad as turnovers in some cases and only played into the Suns hands. Durant and Westbrook made only six, meaning the Suns had ample opportunities to get out on the break and score against an unset Thunder defense.
  • Brooks: “Too many 3s, no question. That’s not a normal game for us when those two guys shoot that many 3s.”
  • Durant: “Yeah, I shot 15 of them and I felt like every one of them was good. They just bounced out. But that’s just how the dice rolled.”
  • Bad metaphor.
  • All four of Tucker’s 3s came from the corner. And all four of them came against Durant. KD appeared to be sagging off too much to help in the paint and closing out too slow once the ball swung to his man. That’s two straight games that Durant’s man has gone bonkers from behind the 3-point line. Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia combine to do the damage Friday at Houston. I tried to get an answer for why that is out of Brooks. But, well, you know.
  • I didn’t understand that lineup to start the second quarter.
  • Is a 10-man rotation really necessary at this point? If the rotation shrinks in the postseason, shouldn’t it start to round into form now?
  • I’m mildly amazed that Fish is regarded as a stopper for this team. When he started the second half to cover Dragic, I couldn’t help but think back to how the Thunder and its fans licked their chops when going into matchups with the Lakers because of Westbrook’s advantage of Fish. It’s point guards like Dragic that Fish supposedly couldn’t guard three years ago. Now he’s thrown out there to be that guy. Weird.
  • I actually thought Westbrook’s defense on Bledsoe and Dragic in the final five minutes was fantastic.
  • Not a pretty final two minutes offensively for the Thunder. OKC started that stretch 0-for-6 with a turnover before Durant made the final attempt.
  • Just a heck of a play by Bledsoe creeping in from behind and stealing the ball from Durant with 50 seconds left. Huge play that preserved Phoenix’s three-point lead. Durant looked like he was about to go all Slim Reaper on Tucker. All that settling went out the window.
  • Heck of a chase-down block by Westbrook on Bledsoe, too. Just too bad that ball squirted out to Tucker. But give credit to Tucker for stepping up and knocking down those foul shots. Pushed the Suns’ lead to five.
  • The Thunder is now just a game ahead of the Clippers for the 2 seed. Sets up a huge showdown on Wednesday.
  • Up next: at Sacramento 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...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Dog rescued after being stuck in hot tar
  2. 2
    AC/DC's Malcolm Young has dementia, family says
  3. 3
    'Big Brother' star reveals he is HIV positive
  4. 4
    Texas girl missing for 12 years is recovered in Mexico
  5. 5
    PHOTO: Dez Bryant poses for pictures at Texas high school homecoming
+ show more