Sometimes great numbers don’t mean a thing. Both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant had great nights for the Oklahoma City Thunder. What you don’t play defense, it doesn’t really matter.
Kevin Durant finished with 27 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 11-17 from the field; Russell Westbrook had the kind of game, offensively at least, that makes you forget about every bad thing ever said and written about him, finishing with 26 points, 10 assists while shooting 11-19 from the field. Serge Ibaka contributed in double figures, so did Kevin Martin. What went wrong?
Maybe it’s better to begin with the end. Some teams aren’t used to losing, and the Oklahoma City Thudner, at least this season, have lost less than anyone else. When it does happen, especially home, it’s a tad more frustrating than with other teams, “used” to the feeling. Kevin Durant didn’t like the calls against him, against his teammates, but what he probably didn’t like was how easy they made it for the Brooklyn Nets to score again and again, finishing with 42 points, 50% overall from the field and 25-29 from the line.
Kevin Durant got ejected near the end, when the Nets made their second breakaway from the Thunder. Durant didn’t think he did something to merit his first ejection in his six-year NBA career.
I said, ‘It’s a bad call.’ That’s it. They’ve got a quick trigger now. I think I’m allowed to be frustrated, especially in this league. With the ups and downs, the players are allowed to be frustrated. It is what it is, move on from it.
Offense – shooting 49.3% from the field and their two superstars taking good shots and making good decisions throughout the game, didn’t lose this one for the Thunder. Defense did. Deron Williams had his way with Westbrook, Joe Johnson had his way with anyone that got near him. When everything falls on Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka to stop, it becomes a little bit difficult to execute the Thunder’s best kept secret – their defensive schemes and ability to handle many kinds of offenses, as long as their players are up for doing some guarding on the day.
Joe Johnson, with 33 points, found himself open again and again. Deron Williams moved the ball excellently, and created so much room every time he drove to the paint. Once again, Russell Westrbook not doing his job pushed more men out of their position, always leaving someone with an open shot. Brook Lopez found himself in comfortable paint situations quite often, finishing with 25 points.
Every time a successful team loses, it’s going to make some noise. The level of energy isn’t going to be at its highest, even for one of the youngest teams in the NBA. It was still somewhat surprising to see the Thunder, at home, giving up such a big lead right from the start, fighting two quarters to get back in the game before letting their defensive laziness to get to them.
For the millionth time – only a regular season game, but everyone of them has a lesson hidden inside it, win or lose. The good teams, which the Thunder are usually among, learn from their mistakes. It becomes a problem you know will hurt you in the future, like Russell Westbrook and even Kevin Durant slacking off on defense, if it doesn’t change for the better eventually.