Observations from John Rohde during the Thunder's 114-93 victory over New Jersey on Wednesday night inside Oklahoma City Arena:
*The Thunder won by 21 against the Nets, but it better stop messing around. Early in the season, OKC was turning heads with a ridiculous team free-throw percentage around .875. Now Thunder fans are shaking their heads at all the misses. The team's percentage has dipped to .839 after a horrendous 18-for-27 (.667) effort against the Nets. The all-time NBA single-season record is .832 by the 1989-90 Boston Celtics. Six of Wednesday's misses came from reserves, and Kevin Durant was 2 for 4. Durant has made 61 of his last 77 attempts (.792). Sure, those are still solid numbers, but living large at the free-throw line is a key component to the Thunder winning games.
* When these teams played four weeks ago, Nets guard Jordan Farmar had a career-high 28 points and nine rebounds while starting in place of injured Devin Harris (knee). On Wednesday, Farmar had two points and one assist, and it all came in the fourth quarter. The Thunder didn't have Durant (knee) in the previous meeting and obviously he was a huge difference, scoring 27 points despite sitting the entire fourth quarter. But another big difference was not letting Farmar go nuts.
* Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the 123-120 triple-overtime game played Dec. 1 was too nerve-wracking to enjoy in the moment.
â€œYeah, I'm on the same page,â€ Nets coach Avery Johnson said before Wednesday's game. â€œI never enjoyed it, and I hated it even more after the game because I felt bad for our guys. We played so hard, to be in a situation like that and to foul a 3-point shooter (Green in the second OT with 4.6 seconds left). It's a tough loss for our guys â€¦ we just battled so hard.
â€œI'd like to have a triple-overtime game tonight, and maybe the Nets can win. Maybe we'll see if we learned something.â€
No overtime was needed this time around. Heck, the fourth quarter wasn't needed.
* Brooks often has said he doesn't concern himself with how many minutes Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green play each game, but it sure is nice to sit your starters the entire fourth quarter and get away with it. Green (4:55) was the only Thunder starter to play in the final period.
* Man, it's fun to chat with Johnson, a former Cameron product, but I wonder if he wishes he was still doing studio work.
* Brook Lopez is tall (7-foot), but far more important he plays tall. He keeps his hands high and the ball high. He's good. Where would the Nets (9-23) be without him?
* Against Dallas on Monday, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka had three fouls in the first three minutes. Against the Nets, he collected three fouls in his first five minutes. To his credit, Ibaka calmed down and finished with nine points, three rebounds and a block in 15 minutes.
ALDRICH TO 66ERS
Rookie center Cole Aldrich was not at Wednesday's game and is on his way to Austin to join the Tulsa 66ers tonight. (NBA teams do not officially announce assignments to the Developmental League until a player has arrived.) It will be Aldrich's second stint with the 66ers. Players are allowed three for the entire season.
As part of its Holiday Assist program, the Thunder provided 250 tickets for Army privates in basic training at Fort Sill who were unable to go home for the holidays. The group received a standing ovation during a timeout late in the second quarter. The Thunder also provided 50 tickets to privates on Dec. 19 against Phoenix.
Wednesday was the 15th sellout (18,203) in 18 home games. â€¦ Starting center Nenad Krstic didn't take his first shot until his 14th minute. Early in the third quarter, his first two field goals came 26 seconds apart. He finished with all 10 of his points in the period on 5-for-6 shooting. â€¦ The Thunder's largest lead was 25. The Nets had only two second-chance points.
BY JOHN ROHDE