The most memorable thing from the preseason game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets? Timofey Mozgov blocking Kevin Durant in a slightly humiliating way, and the Nuggets winning 114-101.
Ability matters more than the actual result in these games, so the Thudner won’t be too worried about losing their preseason opener. Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Perry Jones weren’t playing, so it’s safe to say it wasn’t difficult scoring points on the Thunder in the paint. Mozgov scored 20 points on 8-of-8 from the field, but his best came when rejecting the NBA’s MVP.
Durant had a very good outing besides that rejection from Mozgov. He was on the floor for just 12 minutes and managed to score 11 points. We’re not going to see anything different from him as the continues to try and conquer the platform as the best player in the league, and we should expect ridiculous scoring numbers once again.
Russell Westbrook was less than pleasing, with 1-of-5 from the field, scoring four points. He did however have four steals and the Thunder were actually winning by 15 points when he was on the floor, spending only 13 minutes on the court. Andre Roberson, Sebastian Telfair and Reggie Jackson, who is in line for a contract extension the Thunder are probably going to give him spent most of the time playing point guard.
Steven Adams started for the Thunder and had a good game with 15 points on 7-of-8 from the field. Will this be the season he takes over for Kendrick Perkins in the starting lineup? Scott Brooks isn’t exactly flexible or someone who loves experimenting and trying new things, but at some point the uselessness of Perkins on the floor will be impossible to ignore at some point. There’s also Mitch McGary with 14 points on his debut for the team that will be looking to get some minutes this season and will find it quite difficult on a team that doesn’t usually give rookies the benefit of the doubt.
For the Nuggets, besides Mozgov, there were plenty of absentees as well. Danilo Gallinari didn’t play, and JaVale McGee and J.J. Hickson were out of action as well. Kenneth Faried, who has a lot to prove after a strong showing with Team USA during the summer, had 8 points in his 23 minutes. Ty Lawson was the engine as usual with 12 points and 7 assists.
The Thunder are aiming at a championship, but was this another season in which they possibly slightly regressed? An interesting outlook on the matter was given by Grantland. In short? The Thunder continue to rely on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to shoulder most of the workload, hoping that their natural improvement, along with that of Ibaka’s, is enough to make up for a bench that hasn’t been upgraded and other needs not taken care of.