The Oklahoma City Thunder only had one game this past week, a 109-81 destruction of the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. As the preseason slowly creeps along, the Thunder are 3-0 and look very good in the process. Let’s look deeper into this victory.
What Went Down
Thunder 109, Nuggets 81 – Tuesday, Oct. 15
Know Thy Enemy
- With starters Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler out for extended periods of time, the Nuggets played quite the wacky starting lineup. Any lineup with J.J. Hickson, Anthony Randolph and JaVale McGee on the floor at the same time is guaranteed silliness.
- The always-entertaining Nate Robinson signed with the Nuggets this offseason and will provide a spark off the bench. It’s a shame that people don’t talk anymore about his performance in the first round of the playoffs last year. He was bananas and the Bulls’ 3OT victory in Game 4 was one of the most exciting games of last year. Nate rules.
Kevin Durant played a mere 23 minutes, but still managed to put up ridiculous numbers. He dropped 36 points on 13-for-20 shooting and looked unstoppable. Then again, Anthony Randolph was guarding him, but he still put on a clinic. He was able to get to the line and did his best to involve his teammates to get their shots going.
However, everyone didn’t have the same success offensively. Jeremy Lamb continued his struggles this preseason, going 3-for-12 from the floor. It was a tough night all around for Jeremy. He had a stretch in the second quarter where he was ice cold and couldn’t find the touch around the rim. Denver played him very physically down low and he just wasn’t hitting his floaters with the contact. He’s now a gruesome 3-for-13 from beyond the arc through these three games.
Lamb had an equally fascinating defensive game as well on Tuesday. He used every inch of his 6’11” wingspan to disrupt passing lanes, nabbing three steals. He’s been very effective using his hands on defense throughout the preseason, with eight steals and four blocks through three games. But there was a stretch where Andre Miller made him look foolish. Miller has been abusing young, inexperienced guards for years now and Lamb was his most recent victim. From 6:11 to 5:35 in the second quarter, Miller drew three fouls on Lamb, putting up five points in that span. Lamb won’t be guarding players as cerebral as Miller each night, but that was an especially ugly stretch.
But don’t you dare panic about Jeremy Lamb just yet. It’s the preseason. He’s in a position to succeed and hopefully will cut down on the mental errors once the season begins. Neither Lamb nor coach Scott Brooks seem concerned about Lamb’s struggles, so no need to worry yet.
There were plenty of other positives in the game, especially from the frontcourt. Serge Ibaka looked great, contributing 13 points and nine rebounds, as well as five assists, which would be a career high. He was excellent at distributing and continued to look polished offensively. Hasheem Thabeet got the start last night, as Kendrick Perkins sat out with an injured finger, and wasn’t half bad. He was active on the offensive boards, played with a nice energy and contributed one of the night’s highlights:
He also looked great jumping rope, which has been captured in Vine form. Isn’t technology amazing?
Steven Adams played the way I expect him to play for the entire season. He added a nice five points and six rebounds, forming a fearsome rebounding duo with Ibaka down low. But he also had six fouls (and a defensive three seconds) in only 18 minutes. He’s remarkably raw, but the potential is there for him to provide help off the bench this year.
Rookie Andre Roberson has done one thing really well throughout his basketball career: rebound. Rebounding is generally seen as the easiest skill to to translate from college to the pros and Roberson’s nine boards in 17 minutes were icing on the victory cake. If he can do that with reasonable consistency during the season, that will be huge for OKC.
GIF of the Week
Anthony Randolph is not known for his defense. He was in charge of guarding Kevin Durant. This is just a sample of how Tuesday night went for him.
The preseason picks up for the OKC Thunder, as they travel to travel to Tulsa on Thursday night to face off against the Pelicans. They head back home for a Sunday night affair with the Utah Jazz, then head to Phoenix for their penultimate preseason match. See you next Wednesday.