1. I’m old and it’s 12:16am so I’m gonna make this shorter and sweeter than normal… The Thunder got away with one tonight. You don’t win many NBA games shooting 38% from the field, 22% from three, and 64% from the line. That is really, really bad. To their credit, they relied on their identity (defense, hustle, playmaking) to pull away late, but they also caught the Lakers at the right time sans Lebron and Kuzma for the second half. This was a hard-fought, but ugly game and it’s one you sort of feel the Thunder were lucky to stash in the win column. That said, there was a lot of emotion in the building and it was on the road. Seems no one else in the West is winning on the road so I’m not going to lose much sleep apologizing for this victory.

2. In the blog following the loss to Dallas on Sunday night I said I thought Donovan should have left the bench in longer during the fourth quarter when they were bringing us back. He stuck pretty tight to the rotation and I thought it altered the momentum a bit. It was interesting to see him stick with the guys longer tonight under almost identical circumstances (yeah, he probably reads the blog). Start of the fourth quarter is where this game turned. Lakers missed shots, but our defense was sensational— Noel in particular was doing some real work out there. PG was obviously the star of the game, but the guy that hit the biggest shots? Nader. This guy is really making the most of his opportunity. He made a great drive and dish for a layup to start the quarter and then hit a couple of huge shots to put us on top. Sample size is still very small, but he has flashed more with his opportunity that anyone else this year. He has earned the right for more time. I’m intrigued to see more. Hats off to that bench crew that sort of flipped the script of this game— PG put it away, but they teed it up for him.

3. Nothing Russ can do except continue to shoot. I think he’s more or less being smart about it. He was 3-20, but I think he only took about 8 shots over the final three quarters. He recognized he was ice cold and focused on other areas. But he can’t just TOTALLY stop shooting. When the shots are there, he has to continue to take them. When the lane opens he has to continue to attack. I’m convinced this is a mental block/yips type of situation and it’s awkward much of the time. But he has to just keep firing away. The last four games he’s had two solid outings and two dreadful ones. As long as the offense is running through PG first (which it is) Russ needs to keep trying. It will eventually come around. Surviving 3-20 from Russ, 4-13 from Dennis, and 1-7 from TFerg is a pretty unique accomplishment.

4. Sometimes you have a good win and sometimes you have a good non-loss. This was an example of the latter. Tonight was good because they didn’t lose, period. They played hard, hunkered down on D, and got it done. Lakers were short handed and the Thunder get out with the W. Hopefully they got a clunker out of their system because that will almost certainly not cut it at Portland on Friday night. Thunder really struggled with the Blazers last year; would be nice to see a little reversal in their first meeting this year.

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Ed Kleese