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Nuggets from my notebook from the Thunder's win at Detroit

by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 8, 2013
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Steven Adams, y’all…

  • Kevin Durant scored a game-high 37 points. He had eight rebounds. Seven assists. Three steals. He was 9-for-15 from the field…And Steven Adams stole the show — again.
  • Adams strung together yet another strong, strong showing in the Thunder’s 119-110 victory on Friday night. He scored 17 points, made seven of 10 shots, grabbed 10 rebounds, had three assists, three blocked shots and one steal in 30 minutes off the bench. The guy just continues to impress. And in a variety of ways. He rebounds. He catches. He finishes. He rolls. He blocks shots. He runs the floor. He sets “mean” picks. :-) He passes well. And he hustles every second he’s on the floor.
  • After the game, Adams again downplayed his final stat line. “I don’t care about the double-double,” he said. “The fact is that doesn’t mean anything because I still performed badly on the defensive end, defensive assignments that I had to do. So that’s what I’m really worried about.”
  • Adams added this about his numbers: “The only one that matters is that we win. As long as we’ve got more points than the other team, we’re straight.”
  • Scott Brooks couldn’t even poo-poo this performance by the young buck. “I thought Steven had just a terrific game,” Brooks said. “The young man is getting better and better every day because he works hard. He has great hands and he finishes around the basket. Those are the things that we expect him to continue to get better at.”
  • Wait, maybe he could. “Steven’s doing great. Tonight was one of his best games. It’s hard to expect that every night from him, but I like his effort. I like his energy and effort, and that’s what I tell him.”
  • Adams became the first Thunder rookie to record a double-double since Serge Ibaka against Toronto on Feb. 28, 2010.
  • Derek Fisher on Adams: “I think he’s just trying this best to keep the game simple and not overthink it. That’s the toughest part as a first-year player. I think so far, not just tonight but so far this season, he’s done a good job of it.”
  • Russell Westbrook on Adams: “I didn’t know what type of numbers he would put up, but I just know he plays so hard and he plays the game the right way. And I think when you do that stuff just flows for you.”
  • Durant on Adams: “Steven was great tonight, rolling to the rim, catching the ball, finishing, making good reads and protecting the basket.”
  • I asked Durant the same thing I asked Brooks and Westbrook. Is what Adams doing surprising him? “Nah,” Durant said. “I mean, he looked good in practice. He’s doing the same things. He’s just learning every single game. He’s starting to get consistent with his play. He’s 20 years old, man. So we got to be patient with him. But he’s playing well.”
  • One more. Nick Collison on Adams’ important to the second string. “He’s big. He’s playing great right now. I think he’s going to continue to play well. He gives us a guy who can catch and finish. And defensively, he’s been good, and he’ll continue to get better so he’s a big part of what we’re doing.”
  • The best or most impressive thing about Adams’ performance was the competition it came against. This Pistons squad has assembled one of the league’s best frontlines with Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. But on this night, Adams thoroughly outplayed Drummond and, in the second half, played Monroe to a virtual tie in their head-to-head matchup. Adams supplied some really solid low post defense on Monroe, perhaps as good as can be expected for a 20-year-old rookie who’s unfamiliar with names and games at this point.
  • At halftime, Adams was a game-best, plus-14 in the old plus-minus department. Kendrick Perkins was a minus-10. That’s not an indictment on Perk or affirmation for Adams, at least not from me. It looked like one was much more effective than the other. But I don’t say that to say Perk was solely at fault for the team digging a 10-point hole while he was in, or that Adams was solely responsible for the team constructing a 14-point margin while he was in. It’s just interesting. And one small stat that confirmed what we saw.
  • Perk had his moments tonight. I thought he battled down low. But his final line was far from a beauty. He went scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting with three rebounds, two blocks, one turnover and four fouls.
  • Perk also played just 17 minutes, 13 fewer than Adams. That’s now three of the past four games that Adams has logged more minutes than Perk.
  • I asked Brooks before the game whether he’s concerned about Perk’s mental state in the face of dwindling minutes. “It’s not something that I’m concerned with,” Brooks said. “He’s a big part of what we do. He’s been a great pro for over a decade. He understands he has to just continue to focus on his minutes. I like what he’s done. We have three guys that I can throw in that position and help us win games, and he understands that role. He understands what we need out of that position.”
  • Westbrook was in full blown attack mode tonight. He put his head down and barreled to the rim every chance he got…And I had absolutely no problem with it — even as it ended with him failing to record a single assist. The Thunder needed him to supply that pressure on the Pistons. It kept them on their toes and freed up everyone else for opportunities.
  • I don’t think it’s too much to ask for Westbrook to make a few of those layups, though. I lost count of how many he missed. That was the main reason he was 5-for-19 from the field.
  • The bench was awesome tonight. Those guys combined to scored 42 points with 20 rebounds, 11 assists, three steals, three blocked shots and only one turnover. I’ll write more about these guys for Sunday. But it appears that second unit is starting to develop a little bit of a rhythm. Westbrook said they’re playing with a chip on their shoulders because everybody has questioned them.
  • Never did I think the Thunder would out-rebound the Pistons by 10 tonight.
  • Thabo Sefolosha went 1-for-6 from 3-point range tonight, dropping him to 3-for-19 on the season. Something just doesn’t look right about his shot. He either isn’t shooting with any confidence, or he changed something in his mechanics. He’s barely jumping when he shoots and it’s coming out really slow and soft. Like, his attempts don’t even look like they have a chance right now.
  • Reggie Jackson shook off the left hip contusion he was said to have sustained Wednesday and played 18 minutes tonight. He finished with six points, six boards and six assists. He couldn’t get most of his shots to drop, either. But he played a pretty nice game, especially under the circumstances. Who knows how banged up he is right now? The guy is doing all sorts of stuff to try to heal his aches, laying on the floor, wrapping his back, stretching. It hurts just watching him nurse whatever he’s dealing with.
  • Wonder how many analysts and fans will question the number of shots Brandon Jennings takes from Josh Smith this season?
  • Up next: Washington on Sunday.

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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