The best team in the NBA isn’t stopping, as the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled for a fifth consecutive win, while Kevin Durant left center stage and let his point-loving point guard, Russell Westbrook, take over in a good way for once.
Yes, the Thunder are doing so well right now that Kevin Durant needed to take only 12 shots and still the team won by 20 points after a huge first half and big day of outside shooting: 9-19 from beyond the arc, 51.8% from the field.
It was a no-effort game from the Nuggets, who were simply overwhelmed by the energy and speed of the Thunder right off the bat. Oklahoma City grabbed an offensive rebound on nine of its first 16 missed shots. They scored 67 first half points, one point shy of their season best during the first 24 minutes of basketball.
Above all, this time, stood Russell Westbrook, who has taken a step back in his selfishness on the court, but the Nuggets struggled to handle his mid-range jumper and his pick n’ pop plays off of Kendrick Perkins there was no reason no to shoot and shoot and shoot. Westbrook scored 32 points on a rare above .500 shooting night from him, making 12-20 from the field, completing it with 8-9 from the line. Yes, there wasn’t even any need for him to hit three pointers, taking just the one.
He’s shooting the jump shot. If you pressure him, then he goes to the rim. It’s like a nightmare when he’s making that jump shot. So, hopefully he continues to keep making it. These last few games, he’s been really good at scoring the basketball and taking the pressure off everybody else.
Kevin Durant? A quiet night for the MVP candidate. “Only” 24 points, finishing with 7-12 from the field. The Thunder allowed themselves to lose the turnover battle (19 to 14) and not gain any significant edge in rebounding throughout the game because it was so easy making shots against the Nuggets, who are a team that can usually run very well with anyone, but that happens more during their home games than away.
Kevin Martin had a big night off the bench as well, scoring 20 points (8-12 from the field), as Scott Brooks was able to give his starters a rest, with no one playing more than 29 minutes and giving guys like Reggie Jackson (8 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists) and DeAndre Liggins 20-19 minutes of basketball, something they don’t see too often.
This is the Thunder at their best: Hungry right from the start, and so explosive in more than one way that visitors and anyone that stand in their way is left standing and stunned by their speed and ability. Rough moments will be arriving, but a focused Durant and Westbrook on defense means a very troubling matter for anyone who faces them.
A bad bit of news from the night was Nick Collison, sprained his right ankle in the first half and did not return. Collison is averaging 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds this season, but his importance stretches well beyond that of points and numbers, being the leader, at least on defense, and in charge of hustle for the second unit.