Oklahoma City couldn’t hit anything in the first 18 minutes of the ball game. Then they got a chance to run. After starting out just 9 of 32 from the field. The Thunder finished 9-13, turning a seven point deficit into a six point half time lead. James Harden was instrumental in the push late in the second half, with 14 first half points, including 5 of 6 from the free throw line. Harden finished with 16 points.
Kevin Durant was exactly that, Kevin Durant. He had a sluggish first half. However, was unconscious in the third quarter, going 6 for 6 with 16 points in the quarter. He showed why he has a career average of 33 points versus the Timberwolves.
Give Minnesota credit, they could have rolled over when the Thunder lead reached ten points at 69-59. They didn’t Led by JJ Barea, Ricky Rubio and Michael Beasley, they fought back to take the lead at 96-95 with 3:09 to go in the ball game.
It was back and forth from there on out. Westbrook scored and then Beasley came back and hit a shot. It wasn’t until Beasley’s final chance with three seconds to go was the game fully intact for the Thunder. Beasley on the baseline had a very good look at it but Serge Ibaka went straight up on Beasley, forcing him to adjust his shot and he missed it. Kendrick Perkins came down with the rebound. Perkins also hit the clinching two free throws, giving the Thunder the 104-100 win.
Thunder Interior vs. Kevin Love: B
Kevin Love has always been very dominate versus the Thunder, it was key. I said if Beasley finished around 20-15, the Thunder would win this game. Well, Love, 22 points, 12 rebounds. I would say they were pretty successful. (was averaging 25-20 against the thunder last season). While Ibaka spent a good time defending him. It was a constant rotation of defenders.
Russell Westbrook: C-
I don’t want to say this game was close because of Westbrook? However, it kinda was. I’m basically a Westbrook sunshine pumper. I love everything about the kid. However, four charges, seven total turnovers? That did nothing but hurt the team. LOVE his aggression. He needs to step it up though, play with a little bit more control. You seeing a guy just standing there, waiting for you, think a little bit. He’ll improve though. All in all the stat line wasn’t bad for RW. 28 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, +10.
Serge Ibaka: B
Ibaka played much better. He had six points, six rebounds and was a +1. When you’re playing someone like Kevin Love, your +/- might not always be the greatest. He was in Love’s head, played good defense. that’s what you want from him. I think he just may having to readjust to the NBA game after playing in Europe all summer.
Few more notes from the game:
- James Harden is just something else, isn’t he? He had 14 points in the first half and was just almost unstoppable. He drives to the whole, plays very under control. Late in the fourth quarter. Open at the top of the key, instead of taking a three point shot early in a shot clock. He pump faked, penetrated into the lane, and kicked it to Kendrick Perkins for the slam dunk.
- Outside of Harden, the bench was very non-existant. Bench finished 4-12 for 13 points. One key of pulling away from Orlando was being able to score points while the starters were resting. That didn’t happen tonight.
- Three point shooting wasn’t there tonight. Cook hit two of his final three shots to be a respectable 2-5. However, that’s about all to be happy about. Harden, Westbrook and KD finished a dismal 3-10 from behind the arc.
- Ricky Rubio was something special. DailyThunder pointed out that probably about 80% of Rubio’s passes were bounce passes. Doesn’t happen much in this league. How quickly will the league take to adjust to that? He’s not a shooter, but he was great as a point guard. (six points, six assists in 26 minutes for the rookie).
- Just a quick note on turnovers. They’re really high because of Westbrook’s seven. However, as a team 17 is way too many. Learn how to take better control of the ball. Learn how to be in more control offensively.
- Nick Collison was a team worst -12. That’s something we’re not used to seeing.
- How is Kendrick Perkins free throw shooting so much better? I love it. Tonight he was 2-2. He’s 4-4 on the season!
Check out these sick moves by Westbrook and Durant[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObfToTiQa-Q] [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_UOb_3xnJU]
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