This, Thunder fans, is what your team looks like when everything clicks. Dogged defense leads to trouble-free offense. Spacing and ball movement result in uncontested shots. Energy and hustle end in a blowout.
Opening night at the Ford Center couldn’t have gone more smoothly in the Thunder’s 102-89 rout of Sacramento on Wednesday night. When it mattered for the first time, the Thunder played like the team the outside world assumes it is — one of the fastest rising teams in the NBA and a bunch that could surprise the rest of the league with an improbable push to the postseason. Oklahoma City never trailed against the Kings and led by as many as 23 points. Roles were played to near perfection, particularly by the starters: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. The first five set the tone from the opening tip and ultimately combined for two more points than the entire Kings team. Westbrook displayed the same confidence and control he exhibited throughout the preseason, finishing with 14 points, a career-high 13 assists and seven rebounds against just two turnovers. Durant looked more like the leader he’s promised to be in his third season and poured in 25 points, with 11 rebounds and four assists. Green showed off a rapidly improving shooting touch and a valuable ability to abuse bigger, slower defenders. He made four of five 3-pointers on his way to 24 points and eight rebounds. And Krstic and Sefolosha were their usual steady selves, Krstic taking advantage of Westbrook’s playmaking to the tune of 20 points and Sefolosha being the bulldog defender he’s established himself as. Collectively, they gave a preview of the potential the unit possesses.