No one thought it would be this easy, even if there’s a good chance that the Oklahoma City Thunder, like most of the NBA, signaled this game as a definite W when they took an early glance at the schedule for the 2012-2013 NBA season.
Wins of 45 points do happen in the NBA, although they shouldn’t. The Charlotte Bobcats are supposed to be a bit better than this; they are 7-6 this season, entering the game against OKC with a 2-2 road record. But it was a disaster from the first second of play.
The Thunder were up by 16 in the first quarter; 40 by half time. Good night. Russell Westbrook got the crowd excited with a few dunks and eventually the kind of reaction you expect to pump up the fans. Still, how pumped up can you get when your started play between 18-26 minutes? Yes it was that easy of a night.
How easy? Hasheem Thabeet, given another chance to show he’s worthy of an NBA career, got to play 27 minutes, and finish with his first career triple double, notching 13 points and 10 rebounds. A lot of weird things were happening, as the Bobcats just lay on the floor and let the Thunder, 11-4 and 7-2 at home after their 114-69 demolition, giving the Thunder a much needed morale boost for the rest of the season.
Kevin Durant finished with 4 blocks. He finished with an impressive line of 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and four rejections. Even more impressive? He took more shots than Russell Westbrook. It’s easy to share when theren’s not an ounce of suspense in a game, with the Bobcats missing Tyrus Thomas, Gerald Henderson and Bismack Biyombo.
Westbrook was the personification of a point guard. Don’t expect him to play this way too often: He took only 8 shots (making 4 of them) and dished out 11 assists. Yes, 11. The Bobcats, at some point of the game (very early on), gave up on trying to guard anyone or anything. It felt like the Thunder were having shooting practice, and someone like Thabo Sefolosha got to take more field goal attempts than anyone else on the team with 9. It was that crazy of night. Well, not that crazy; Kevin Martin didn’t finish with a single assist. You can’t expect everyone to change.
As a head coach, you’d love these games to mean something down the road, but they don’t. Not when it’s against a depleted Bobcats team who probably lost the game before they stepped outside of the locker rooms. Westbrook’s sharing was probably a one time thing, and Hasheem Thabeet isn’t going to be the answer to the Thunder’s second unit problems all of a sudden. Easy games only create illusions; maybe give confidence to players who need it. It’s not something to build a projection of a season on, or base change upon.
The Thunder are among a few teams challenging for the title: Best in the West. While they have questions regarding their point guard play, bench and defending at times, they do have one player that’s better than anyone else in the conference. Whether the rest of those around him will catch up and follow in time to make up for their other disadvantages won’t be demonstrated in games like these, that are stat fillers for bench players, nothing more.