Oklahoma City Thunder Weekly: Failing the First Real Test


Welcome to the third installment of the Oklahoma City Thunder regular season weekly recap! Boy, this season is just flying by already. The Thunder had quite the fascinating week, playing some of the best and worst teams in the association. Let’s check out what happened.

What Went Down

Thunder 119, Pistons 110 – Friday, Nov. 8

Kevin Durant is really good at basketball. He scored 37 points on 9-for-15 shooting in the Thunder’s victory over the Pistons. That’s disgustingly efficient. Just look at Rudy Gay‘s effort on Monday against the Rockets. He attempted 37 shots!!! That’s disgustingly inefficient. Scoring efforts like these don’t come around often. Treasure the majesty of Kevin Durant while you can.

The other real story outside of Durant is the juxtaposition of Steven Adams and Kendrick Perkins. Adams showed out against the newly dominant and exciting Detroit frontcourt. He put up 17 and 10 in 31 huge minutes, and held Andre Drummond (who I previously compared Adams with) to only four points and three rebounds. On the other hand, Perkins did not look as sharp. He played 17 scoreless minutes, but contributed  four sloppy-looking fouls. Adams played the vast majority of the fourth quarter, and reasonably so. Scott Brooks smartly played the hot hand down the stretch, and it worked out. This dynamic will be key to observe in the future. Perkins did recently tweet that it might be “time for a change,” but immediately deleted it and explained that it was unrelated to basketball. The veracity of that is unknown. But he can’t enjoy seeing his minutes go down like this.

Russell Westbrook proved that he still has plenty of room to grow in his return this year. He looked rusty in a 5-for-19 effort from the field, but it’s nice to see him attack the rim and draw fouls. The shooting will take longer to come back, but his athleticism has not left. That’s a very good sign for the future of this team.

Thunder 106, Wizards 105 – Sunday, Nov. 10

Photo Credit: JoeGlo Photography, Flickr.com

Well, this was a weird game. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 34 points and Russell Westbrook was ejected with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter, but in the end, the Thunder pulled out another victory at home on Sunday.

Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka led the charge to victory, both playing 46 minutes. Durant continued to drop ridiculous scoring numbers, with 33 points and 13 rebounds on the side. Ibaka also had a double-double of his own, and held his own against Marcin Gortat and Nene, two very challenging defensive matchups.

Russell Westbrook continued his poor statistical effort from the field, with a 4-for-16 scoring line. But his real contribution came late in the game, where he and Nene got caught up in a little skirmish.

These are the moments where I just adore Russell. He’s so raw and primal and always angry and it’s awesome. It’s times like these were you can’t worry about his shooting percentages. He’s going to do everything in his power to will the Thunder to victory.

Thabo Sefolosha, his backcourt partner, had an equally strange game. He looked consistent on the offensive end, with eight points, eight rebounds and only a single turnover. But he just got obliterated by Bradley Beal. That dude is a baller. And at least Beal made his free throws, unlike some other members of the Wizards. If the Wizards hit their free ones down the stretch, they would have won this game. But good teams win games they aren’t supposed to. The Thunder proved that on Sunday.

Clippers 111, Thunder 103 – Wednesday, Nov. 13

The Thunder’s 4 game winning streak came to an end last night at the Staples Center. It was a messy game, but the Clippers wound up on top. Both teams committed 22 turnovers and the pace of the game seemed way too frantic for comfort at certain points. And right before the first half, another little brawl broke out. This fight resulted in ejections for Serge Ibaka and Matt Barnes. While Barnes didn’t add much to the game, Ibaka’s ejection had a huge ripple effect. He was a perfect 6-for-6 for 13 points from the field and you could see how much the Thunder missed him in the second half.

Kendrick Perkins did not attend the game due to family issues, further harming the depth of the frontcourt. Because of that, the Clippers were able to run in transition without fearing a physical presence down low. Blake Griffin looked excellent, almost putting up a triple-double. Defensively, the Clippers look very vulnerable down low. But because the Thunder were without their starting 4 and 5, they couldn’t exploit their weaknesses.

Kevin Durant had another 30-plus point game and spread the ball around with 10 assists. These two teams will surely meet in the future, and will have some epic battles. Two halves of Serge Ibaka would have been really nice for the Thunder, but last night, the Clippers took the victory.

GIF of the Week

John Wall had the chance to steal the game in OT from the Thunder, but his layup was just a biiit off. Tough break, John.

Looking Forward

The Oklahoma City Thunder continue on their road trip, making stops in Oakland and Milwaukee before heading home for a Monday night affair against the Nuggets. All three of those games will be fast-paced and dominated by big offense. Just the type of games in which Kevin Durant thrives.

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