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OKC Thunder: Thunder lacks ball movement in opener, manages just nine assists

Throughout training camp and the preseason, we heard all about the importance of improvement in that area. But against Utah, the ball went back to being largely stagnant.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 31, 2013
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MINNEAPOLIS — What happened to better ball movement?

That was the biggest question facing the Thunder following its season-opening victory at Utah on Wednesday night.

Throughout training camp and the preseason, we heard all about the importance of improvement in that area. There was even evidence in the exhibition season to suggest this year would be different from past years.

But on the first night that Thunder basketball was back in earnest, the ball went back to being largely stagnant.

The Thunder finished with just nine assists against the Jazz. OKC made 33 shots.

Utah, which was without five injured players, including Trey Burke, the ninth overall pick and the Jazz's projected starting point guard, had 25 assists.

For comparison's sake, six players throughout the league on the first two nights of the season had more assists individually than the Thunder had as a team. LeBron James had 13, Michael Carter-Williams had 12 and Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio, John Wall and Chris Paul each had 11.

“You can look at the assists numbers, but they're such a subjective stat,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who focused more on how many makeable shots were missed.

“If you can make a good pass and you don't make a shot, what can you do?” Brooks said. “You go on to the next play. We didn't have a high assist total, but we got a lot of good looks that we got to continue to step up and take.”

One game, especially the first game, isn't a cause for concern. But without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder was expected to rely more on a team approach in which everybody is involved.

Instead, we saw the Thunder revert to much of the same offense we saw fall short in the playoffs. It relied heavily on isolations for Kevin Durant, with a few mixed in for Serge Ibaka. Ultimately, the Thunder decided to simply ride Durant to get out of Utah with a win. But his 42-point performance, however impressive, was not game planned.

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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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