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Oklahoma City Thunder: Obsevations and shocking numbers from Game 2

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 22, 2014 at 11:27 am •  Published: May 22, 2014

Two games in San Antonio. Two routs. One sort of interesting. The other a total blowout. An embarrassing blowout. A question-everything-you-do blowout. Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was a 112-77 Spurs’ rout. Here’s what I saw and heard:

 

ATTACKING THE BASKET

Russell Westbrook got to the basket with some regularity. Kevin Durant did not.

Westbrook two 24 shots and didn’t go to the foul line. Westbrook went 1-of-5 from 3-point range, 2-of-9 on mid-range jumpers (although one was a 10-foot fallaway that was a hideous shot) and 4-of-10 on shots taken from right at the basket.

That’s not a terrible ratio in terms of shot selection. Ten shots on layups or drives is excellent. That’s what the Thunder needs from Westbrook. Alas, the Spurs did a great job contesting them. The Thunder needs Westbrook to make seven or eight of those.

Five 3-pointers might be too many, but since Westbrook’s epiphany the last two games of the Memphis series, when he took just two in each game, Westbrook’s 3-point attempts have numbered: 5, 4, 3, 4, 6, 4, 4, 5. That’s 35 3-point shots; Westbrook has made 11 of them. But he’s made just two of the last 16. Maybe it’s time for another epiphany.

The problem with Westbrook on Wednesday night was his mid-range game. Making just two of nine is a killer for OKC.

Meanwhile, Durant made just six of 16 shots. He was 0-of-4 on 3-pointers, 5-of-9 on mid-range shots and 1-of-3 on shots right at the basket. Durant was fouled twice while shooting; once on a 10-footer, once on a drive to the hoop. So that’s four close-in shots. Not nearly enough. Durant needs twice that many. One came on an alley-oop dunk out of a timeout. Virtually nothing in transition.

Durant is having to work too hard for his shots, even during the long stretch when Kawhi Leonard was benched with foul trouble. Working hard is exactly what Gregg Popovich wants Durant doing.

“They had a rough night, that’s the truth,” said Spur star Manu Ginobili. “They shot very poorly, and I don’t think Durant took many bad shots. He just missed shots that he usually doesn’t miss.”

 

STRANGE LINEUPS

Here’s what the loss of Serge Ibaka means. Through two games, the Spurs have made 60 of 90 shots in the paint. The Thunder has made 37 of 67. But Ibaka’s void reverberates in other ways.

For example, here’s a lineup Scotty Brooks used in the second quarter: Kendrick Perkins, Derek Fisher, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones and Caron Butler. Perk and the B Team. That’s something we’ve never seen before. The experiment didn’t last long – 34 seconds. Perkins picked up two fouls and went to the bench, replaced by Steven Adams. During those 34 seconds, Perk and the B Team went 2-2 against the Spurs. The basket, ironically, came on a Gran Torino hook shot.

Here’s another lineup. Adams and Perkins together. Brooks can’t have used his two centers together more than five minutes all season. But he was forced to in Game 1, when Nick Collison picked up his second foul just 4:36 into the game. Adams and Perk joined Durant, Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha. Adams and Perk played together 3:04, during which the Spurs outscored OKC 9-6. Strange lineup. Zero pick’n pop game. There’s scant little of it with Collison. There’s none with Perkins and Adams. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

 

AVERT YOUR EYES

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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