Game Notes: Foul Trouble Dooms Toronto

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GAME NOTES

* Washington tried sticking a bigger defender in Trevor Ariza on DeMar DeRozan which meant Bradley Beal was stuck guarding Terrence Ross. It worked well in slowing down DeRozan (two points in the first quarter) but Ross had a field day shooting 3’s over top of Beal (2-4 from beyond the arc and a game-high six points). Washington got Martell Webster into the game for Beal but it didn’t cool down Ross as he quickly popped a three in the eye of Webster. Ross finished the first quarter going 3-5 from beyond the arc.

* Toronto went an impressive 5-9 from beyond the arc in the first quarter. However, 45% of their field goal attempts (9-19) were from beyond the arc. They only attempted two free throws.

* Amir Johnson, Kyle Lowry and Patrick Patterson fouled out of the game. This forced Dwane Casey to give Jonas Valanciunas minutes after he sat him for most of the second overtime and it didn’t work out well. Marcin Gortat swatted two of his shots and Valanciunas looked lost defensively. Tyler Hansbrough was quickly brought into the game to replace Valanciunas.

* Andre Miller has given Washington’s bench a huge upgrade. Miller had 11 points and he helped Singleton have one of his best games so far in the NBA (13 points and nine boards). Singleton isn’t going to give away his minutes to Drew Gooden without a fight.

* Terrence Ross has moments where he looks lost or has mental lapses (like most young players), but watching John Salmons start the second half shows just how much Toronto relies on Ross as a defensive presence as Toronto’s top wing defender. Salmons just wasn’t up to the challenge and was repeatedly beat off the dribble.

* Loved the leg kick from Greivis Vasquez in the fourth quarter after his 3-pointer tied the game at 85. Vasquez was feeling it in the second half and finished the game with 26 points. Easily the best game he has had as a Raptor.

* Amir Johnson sent the ACC into a frenzy with his windmill dunk late in the fourth quarter.

* Kyle Lowry hit the deck hard at the end of regulation. He was slowing getting to his feet and even slower hobbling to the Raptors’ bench. Somehow he returned for overtime and had a big impact on Toronto winning the game. After in the locker room he was limping and grimacing.

* Jonas Valanciunas and Austin Daye had an elaborate pre-game dance/handshake. With Daye being traded to San Antonio, tonight Amir Johnson stepped in for Daye. The best I can do to explain it is to say it involves running, toe taps, finger snaps and jumping.  Yes, it looks as funny as it sounds.

* I don’t think either team was happy with the referees tonight…

* It was tough to stifle a laugh when I saw Andre Miller’s legs wrapped up in towels in Washington’s locker room. It reminded me of an old granny in a rocking chair keeping her legs warms with blankets.

* Amir Johnson was rocking some pretty sweet Superman Jordans after the game.

THEY SAID WHAT?

“John Salmons in a very quiet leader. He’s like E.F. Hutton. When he speaks people listen because he rarely speaks but when he does it’s profound.”
Dwane Casey

“I’m not happy because I scored (26 points) or I hit a couple three’s, I’d rather win. I’d trade all the personal stuff for a win.”
Greivis Vasquez

“Your body hurts a little bit more when you lose a game like this.”
Amir Johnson

“The hardest thing to do is develop (young players) and win at the same time. Luckily we’ve got some wins and these guys are developing at the same time. It’s tough to do because a lot of time those guys are in there when they don’t really deserve to.”
Dwane Casey

“I feel really sad. We’ve got to learn from mistakes. I feel really bad right now.”
Jonas Valanciunas

“We go out there every single night to win. We don’t go out there and compete and say, ‘oh, we gave it out best shot.’ We go out there and try to win every single game.”
Kyle Lowry

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Game Notes: Raptors Saved By Another Second Half Rally

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GAME NOTES

* There’s no doubt Jameer Nelson is the heart, voice and leader in Orlando’s locker room. His voice was constantly booming through the locker room during pre-game media availability and he appears to be highly respected by all of his teammates. Great example of what a veteran should look and sound like on a young team.

* Greivis Vasquez wrote on his shoes tonight to draw attention to the political unrest in Venezuela.

* It was a small crowd when the nationals anthems were being sung but the fans that were here were loud and feeling patriotic. There were a bunch of whoops and hollars during the Canadian national anthem tonight due the mens national hockey team winning a gold medal this morning. Something else that caught my attention is there were nearly twice as many fans wearing Canada gear than Raptors’ stuff.

* Tobias Harris was on fire in the first half! Toronto tried Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson on him to no avail. Harris started the game shooting 6-7 from the field and had a game-high 14 points at halftime. He finished with a team-high 28 points.

* In the first quarter DeMar DeRozan saw a lot of different looks from Orlando. They had Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and even Jameer Nelson spend time guarding him. DeRozan had seven points at halftime while going 2-6 from the field. In the third quarter he did a better job coming off screens and attacking the rim off the dribble which helped him go 4-4 from the field while scoring nine points. He finished with 24 points.

* Toronto started the third quarter on a 23-10 run which helped them open up a 64-51 advantage. During that stretch they went 9-11 from the field and went 12-14 overall in the quarter. Thanks to a dagger from Kyle Lowry at the end of the quarter Toronto had a 36-24 advantage in the third quarter.

* Amir Johnson limped to the training room at the 5:41 mark of the third quarter with a sprained right ankle. He didn’t return to the game and is listed as day-to-day. He was limping around the locker room after the game but seemed to be in good spirits. I’m not a doctor, but I’m assuming he won’t play in Cleveland.

* On a night where Amir Johnson left with an injury and DeMar DeRozan had a slow start, Kyle Lowry put the team on his back. He was the emotional leader for Toronto (once again) and stuffed the stat sheet with a game-high 28 points, six assists and four dimes. He also earned the love and adoration of fans for scoring the 100th point of the game and ensuring they would get free pizza tomorrow.

* DeMar DeRozan doesn’t lack confidence. I tried talking with him about adjusting to having a taller defender on him and he quickly shot that idea down by boasting: “They didn’t slow me down. I just missed easy shots.”

* The air horn that’s now playing after every made three-pointer by Toronto is annoying. Yes, I realize I sound like an old man. No, I don’t care.

*Kyle O’Quinn is playing himself into a nice contract this summer. He’s an unrestricted free agent and as a 6’10 energy guy who plays with a lot of toughness he’ll be in demand. Tonight he stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, three fouls and a steal.

* Amir Johnson loves wearing Roots sweats because “it’s like wearing pajamas.”

LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS

3 – Heading into the game DeMar DeRozan needed three assists to tie his career high (204) which he set last season. He dished out four assists tonight.

7 – DeRozan is one of seven players in the NBA averaging more than 25 points per game this month (he’s averaging 25.1).

9 – Nine players on Orlando’s current roster were born after the franchise played it’s first game on October 13, 1989. Those nine players are; Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, E’Twaun Moore, Andrew Nicholson, Victor Oladipo, Kyle O’Quinn and Nikola Vucevic.

11 – Toronto has 11 home wins so far since January 1.

24 – Kyle Lowry scored 24 of his 28 points in the second half.

91 – Toronto has outscored their opponents in the second half in 13 straight games. They have a +91 scoring margin (672-581) in those games.

2010 – The last time Toronto was six games above .500 was February 24, 2010.

THEY SAID WHAT?

“The only issue I would have is if he could play defence and box out.”
Dwane Casey on coaching a player who is gay

“I thought we started setting better screens in the second half. I thought he was more assertive in the second half coming off of the pick-and-rolls attacking. In the first half I thought we took one dribble and kind of settled and then gave it up instead of being aggressive. I thought it was an adjustment we made at halftime to come off (a screen) with two or three dribbles instead of making a decision after one dribble. I thought that adjustment DeMar made was huge for him and Kyle (Lowry).”  
Dwane Casey on adjustment that helped DeMar DeRozan have a better second half

“They didn’t slow me down. I just missed easy shots. I don’t look at it as nobody slowing me down or make tougher shots. I just missed shots and I couldn’t really get into a rhythm because I got those three quick fouls.”
DeMar DeRozan when I asked him about adjusting in the second half to having a bigger defender in Maurice Harkless guarding him

“We need to come out with more energy and not ease ourselves into games. We’re not that good of a team to ease ourselves into games. We’ve got to come out and play hard-nosed and with intensity from the start.”
Kyle Lowry on how to fix the slow starts currently plaguing the team

“I think we set basketball back 15 years with how we played in the first half.”
Dwane Casey

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Audio from Dwane Casey, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

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Game Notes: Toronto Ends Cleveland’s Winning Streak

 

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GAME NOTES

* Dwight Buyucks was on the court nearly three hours before the opening tip working with Jama Mahlalela. Impressive work ethic. Dwane Casey is always stressing the importance of being ready to go even when it doesn’t look like there will be minutes and Buyucks is doing just that.

* It’s always kind of weird when an NBA player eats dinner in the media room. They are obviously welcome, but since it’s such a rare occurrence, it always catches me off guard (like when I was a kid and saw a teacher anywhere outside of school). Tonight Carrick Felix dug into a big plate of pasta across the table from me while I was doing my pre-game research.

* There was a big debate in the Cavaliers locker room before the game was if it’s a three, five or ten second rule when you drop food. The Aussie, Matthew Delladova, found that it depends on what country you’re from. North Americans were unanimous that it’s a five second rule but the players felt even that’s too long.

* Toronto got off to a rough start shooting 22% from the field (5-22) in the first quarter. They had almost no dribble-penetration and only a few entry passes into the post. Instead, Toronto heaved a lot of ill-advised deep jumpers or three’s. Five of Toronto’s 22 first field attempts in the first quarter came beyond the arc and they only scored four points in the paint in the entire quarter. All four of those points came from Tyler Hansbrough off of dunks.

* Attempting more three’s (seven) than free throws (four) is always a recipe for disaster. That’s how Toronto started the game in the first quarter and things didn’t get much better in the second quarter as they failed to shoot a free throw but launched four more 3-pointers. Going into the half attempting 11 three’s but only four free throws is horrible.

* Kyle Lowry sat on the bench late in the first quarter grimacing and grabbing his right leg/thigh. The team trainer rushed over to check on him and Lowry quickly sent him away. Lowry returned to the game early in the second quarter and looked fine.

* Why do the Raptors continue to pout and complain after not getting a foul call? It just shows up the refs and prevents them from getting the benefit of the doubt next time. Plus, when Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas are demonstrative they will get hit with technicals like Valanciunas got in the third quarter. Refs ain’t got time for that.

* Great halftime ceremony by Canada Basketball Hall of Fame to honour Andrea Blackwell (played 17 years with Team Canada from 1979-96), Candace Clarkson (Bronze Medal at World Championships in 1979 and Olympian in 1984) and Bill Coulthard (Gold Medal at Senior Canadian Championships in 1952 and Olympian in 1952).

* After halftime, Steve Novak doesn’t sit down on the bench until he makes a three-pointer. Needless to say it doesn’t take him long to drain a three.

* Toronto started the third quarter being aggressive trying to score in the paint. 18 of Toronto’s first 25 points in the third quarter were scored in the paint. When Patrick Patterson decided to switch it up and drain a three, Mike Brown had seen enough and called a timeout. By then Toronto had opened up a 71-58 lead.

* Anthony Bennett nearly climbed the back of Patrick Patterson as he soared for a dunk attempt late in the third quarter. Would have made for a filthy dunk and a great poster.

* Greivis Vasquez gave Toronto a big spark off the bench today. He lead Toronto’s bench in +/- with a +8 and seemed to be playing with a bounce in his step that he has been missing. Maybe it was the three that he hit early in the game that helped boost his confidence.

* I’m impressed with Amir Johnson’s hockey knowledge. He was talking with a couple of us media grunts after the game and seemed genuinely excited about Canada playing for a gold medal on Sunday.

LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS

1 – Toronto only played played hard for one half and still won the game. They stunk it up in the first half (39 points while shooting 32% from the field) but found a way to steal this game thanks to an impressive third quarter.

3 – Tyler Zeller had three blocks in the first half.

4 – Cleveland will get their chance for revenge in four days when these two teams play again in Cleveland.

12 – Number of made field goals by Cleveland (12) before DeMar DeRozan (0-5) or Kyle Lowry (0-4) made a shot from the field.

16 – Toronto only scored 16 points in the first quarter and then had 16 points in the paint in the third quarter. The fact Toronto decided to play a little nasty while being physical and trying to score in the paint is the reason this game turned around.

37 – Toronto scored 37 points in the third quarter after scoring 39 points the entire first half.

78 – It took 78 games last season for Toronto to get their 30th win. This season it only took 55. Progress!

THEY SAID WHAT?

“I still have nightmares about it.”
Dwane Casey talking about Kyrie Irving’s buzzer beating shot last season

“They’ve got some nice talent. The big kid, (Patrick) Patterson, is good. He’s an inside-out player. He’s played well enough to move Amir Johnson to the bench. They’ve also got Tyler Hansbrough who is a tough son of a gun. Their bigs are really good and then they’ve got Kyle Lowry. I can’t praise him enough and I think the team takes on the character of Kyle. They’ve got some length and athleticism. DeMar DeRozan is talented. Dwane Casey is doing a nice job and these guys are trying to do it defensively first.”
Mike Brown on the Toronto Raptors

“We had to give our bigs a wake-up call in the second half. And they did. You’re going to have nights like that. It wasn’t from a lack of trying or lack of effort. They’d touch a rebound and fumble it out of their hands. Miss a rebound here. Miss a put-back there. All at once they allow the offence to dictate how they’re playing and how they’re feeling about themselves. So they turned it around in the second half. We reminded them that there’s more to the game than the offensive end.”
Dwane Casey

“He was very intense. He played tough and showed growth. He’s going to have ups and downs but tonight he was just really intense. He really kind of lead us with his intensity.”
Kyle Lowry on Jonas Valanciunas

“Give Toronto credit, I thought they came out in the second half and played extremely hard. I thought the big kid (Jonas) Valanciunas was a big difference in the second half. For us to give up 37 points and expect to win on the road in the third quarter was tough. I thought the was we came out was flat in the third quarter, but then to our guy’s credit they stayed with it. We missed some free throws and some shots that we normally make. We tried to make a little run getting our defence betting going into the fourth quarter to give us a chance but Toronto had built too big of a lead.”
Mike Brown

“He’s been working on his right and left hand. I really don’t know what one he is. I don’t know if he knows.”
Dwane Casey on Tristan Thompson

PODCAP

Audio from Dwane Casey, Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson.

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Nets Snap Thunder’s Home Winning Streak

Brooklyn Nets – 110, Oklahoma City Thunder – 93

The Oklahoma City Thunder suffered its third home loss of the season at the hands of the revitalized Brooklyn Nets Wednesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Nets jumped out to an early first quarter advantage and eventually saw their lead grow to 23 points late in the first half. However, the Thunder battled back in the third quarter and tied the game off a Kevin Martin three with 7:11 left in the contest.

Brooklyn didn’t let up and went on a 24-6 run to close out their 17th win of the season.

GAME NOTES

  • The Nets shot nearly 70% from the floor in the first period with Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson combining for 22 of their first 33 points. Johnson torched Oklahoma City going 5-6 in the period including 2-3 from long range. The Thunder looked lackadaisical defensively and at times in the period it seemed Thabo Sefolosha was playing defense by himself.
  • Brook Lopez had his way with Thunder frontcourt. He scored 10 of his 25 points in the first quarter, setting the tone for the entire game. The Nets outscored the Thunder in the paint 42-36 and outrebounded them 38-34. Lopez proved to be a tough matchup for Kendrick Perkins with his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper and play outside the paint.
  • The Nets lost to San Antonio Monday thanks to an atrocious third quarter in which they were outscore 30-5. It was more of the same against Oklahoma City. The Thunder cut Brooklyn’s 16-point, halftime lead to four going into the final 12 minutes. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 20 points in the third and the Thunder outscored the Nets 27-15. Brooklyn came out of the locker room and mirrored Oklahoma City’s lethargic first quarter play.
  • Johnson continued to carry the Nets down the stretch with 13 of his game-high 33 points coming in the second half. A lot has been made of Johnson’s contract and he’s been called a paper-giant on more than one occasion. However, Johnson proved he could play up to his salary against the Thunder. He was easily the MVP of the game.
  • Deron Williams and Westbrook consistently went after each other throughout the game. Williams has been criticized for his perimeter defense, but he gave Westbrook everything he wanted. Westbrook finished with 26 points and 10 assists, but turned it over six times. It wasn’t until the third period that he finally got into a groove and Williams proved to be his biggest problem.
  • The Thunder resorted to isolation offense down the stretch. It was partly out of frustration and partly due to Brooklyn’s feisty defense. The frustration mounted to the point Durant couldn’t take it anymore and fell victim to a double-technical ejection, the first of his career. Durant had choice words for referee Danny Crawford as he walked off the court after a Perkins offensive foul.

PLAYER OF THE NIGHT

  • Joe Johnson: 33 POINTS / 11-19 (5-10 3PT) / 5 REBOUNDS

STAT OF THE NIGHT

  • OKC: 19 TURNOVERS (30 POINTS)

OBSERVATIONS

  • It’s hard to see why Brooklyn is just two games over .500 after thumping Oklahoma City. They have a nice mix of talent and a true point guard in Deron Williams. They also have great size with Brook Lopez and a decent bench led by Kris Humphries. Plus, Joe Johnson has the ability to go for 30 on any given night.
  • They are now 3-1 under Carlisimo who doesn’t seem nearly as laid back as former coach Avery Johnson. He could be the right guy for the job at the moment, even though two of their wins came against Charlotte and Cleveland in Brooklyn. I could see them righting the ship and becoming a dangerous team in the East, but they can’t hang with Miami. They could make a deep run in the playoffs if they get hot at the right time, but at the end of the day, there’s no competing with LeBron and the gang.

 

QUOTES

  • “We just played two of the best three offensive teams in the league. We didn’t play any defense against one and we defended this team about as well as you can defend them.” -P.J. Carlesimo
  • “I wasn’t worried about the third quarter. I was worried whether we could keep guys fresh enough. The guys off the bench did a great job for us.” -P.J. Carlesimo
  • “Gerald Wallace is a monster. You want to talk about something that wasn’t in San Antonio? Gerald Wallace.” -P.J. Carlesimo
  • “There is no need to panic. I think every time we lose around here everybody wants to go bananas.” Russell Westbrook
  • “We had 20 turnovers and gave up 30 points off of those 20 turnovers. It’s tough to win when you play a very good team that’s hot and give them extra possessions.” -Scott Brooks

 

Thunder Earns 11th Straight Victory

The Oklahoma City Thunder evened its series with the San Antonio Spurs with a 107-93 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena Monday. Serge Ibaka led all scorers with 25 and led all rebounders with 17.

GAME NOTES

-Serge Ibaka scored 25 points and pulled down 17 boards. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook didn’t have their best scoring performances. Instead, OKC relied on Ibaka who took three more shots than Durant.

-OKC’s defense stepped up in the third period. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan combined for just 11 points in the second half and Parker had just one assist.

-Serge Ibaka was asked after the game if he played better because he was motivated by Stephen Jackson’s tweets earlier this month. His response: “I respect your job, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

-Russell Westbrook was asked the same question about Ibaka. Westbrook’s response: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

-Gregg Popovich sat his starters in the fourth quarter after OKC opened an 18-point lead. Manu Ginobili didn’t play either due to a left quad contusion.

-The Thunder moved to a league-best 20-4 while San Antonio dropped to 19-7. The two teams are heading in opposite directions as OKC has won 11-straight and the Spurs have dropped four of their last six.

 

QUOTES

-“It’s hard,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after the game. “I tell people this all the time, I couldn’t do what he’s (Ibaka) done-go to this country and produce like he’s producing here. It’s a credit to him and the organization.”

-“He’s (Ibaka) gifted,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “You have a four-man who can spread the court and shoot it like that, it makes it tougher on everybody. That’s why there’s so many shooting four’s in the league.”

-“I didn’t want to play him (Stephen Jackson) that many minutes, but he’s a hard guy to get off the floor,” Popovich said. “He likes to be out there, but we finally convinced him to get off the floor. After all this time off, 18 was plenty, probably a little too much.”

 

STATS

-Serge Ibaka: 25 points / 17 rebounds / 3 blocks

-Kevin Martin: 20 points (7-10 shooting)

-Thunder: 49 rebounds, Spurs: 37 rebounds

-Thunder starters: 77 points, Spurs starters: 49 points

 

Why the Spurs Lost:

-It might have had something to do with the absence of Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, but the main reason they lost is because they stopped scoring in the third quarter. They only scored 16 in the third while Oklahoma City poured in 29.

Why the Thunder Won:

-Serge Ibaka. If it weren’t for Ibaka, the Thunder could’ve very easily lost to San Antonio for the second time this season. Durant and Westbrook didn’t have it going, but Ibaka stepped up and carried the team. He led the way the entire game and was the most intense player on the court during his 38 minutes.

Thunder Cruise To 45-point Win

REACTION: OKC: 114 / BOBCATS: 69

Box Score

-The Thunder handed Charlotte a 45-point loss at the Chesapeake Arena Monday in Oklahoma City. OKC led by 54 at one point in the second half thanks to six players scoring in double-digits including a combined 32 points from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

GAME NOTES:

-Charlotte opened with Jeff Taylor guarding Durant. It didn’t work out too well. Durant scored six points on 3-4 shooting with Taylor guarding him the majority of the quarter. Durant might’ve scored more early had he not been shocked by Mike Dunlap’s decision.

-Thabo Sefolosha nailed two three’s early in the first quarter when it seemed like OKC was still asleep. He actually jacked up six of OKC’s eight three’s in the first 12 minutes. Let’s just say Charlotte’s team defense was a little lackluster because all eight shots were completely uncontested.

-Let’s face it, OKC’s starters could’ve taken the night off and the team still might’ve pulled out a win, but it was nice to see Durant and Sefolosha’s activity on defense early in the game. Thabo made a great defensive play when he picked a driving Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s pocket as the rookie tried to drive on him. Durant moved well on defense early as well and finished the first period with two blocks.

-Durant played with the second team early in the second quarter and they had success passing the ball. It was one of those unfamiliar occasions when the ball hardly bounced off the Chesapeake Arena floor. It was open shot after open shot with KD, Eric Maynor, Kevin Martin, Collison and Thabeet sharing the rock better than the team has all season.

-Maynor and Thabeet scored eight of OKC’s 13 bench points in the second quarter. Each player would probably start for Charlotte. OK, Kemba Walker might keep Maynor on the bench, but Thabeet seriously might be better than Brendan Haywood. Haywood scored two points and pulled down six rebounds in the period while Thabeet scored four and pulled down four boards in half the time.

-Westbrook threw down a massive slam at the end of the second quarter that gave OKC a 40-point lead going into halftime.  Check it out. 

-It started to get ugly in the third quarter. Eventually, OKC extended their lead to 54 points and had the Bobcats on pace to break the record for least amount of points in a game (49: 1999 Chicago Bulls). Scott Brooks pulled the starters with nearly seven minutes left in the quarter and finished the game with a rotation of Thabeet, Maynor, Martin, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb.

-There’s not much to say about the rest of the game. Let’s call it what it really was: garbage time. The Thunder will go on its way and the Bobcats will go on their’s as well. Plus, we all know what Wednesday brings. The return of the beard.

 

REPORT CARD

-OFFENSE: A : Can’t argue with shooting over 50% and a +15 turnover/assist ratio.

-DEFENSE: A+ : Charlotte shot 29% and OKC pulled down 45 defensive rebounds.

-STARTERS: A+ : That +198 statistic is a little describing.

-BENCH: A : The bench played well, especially when Durant was with them in the rotation.

-FANS: B : The fans were loud at points in the game, but who can blame them after that game.

 

STATISTIC-ULAR FORTITUDE

-The Thunder’s 45-point win is the largest win since moving to Oklahoma City.

-OKC’s starters were a combined +198 in the +/-

-Charlotte shot 29.1% (23-79) from the floor including 27.3% (6-22) from three-point range.

-Kemba Walker: 0-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 0-2 FT, 2 TO, -31

 

PLAYER OF THE GAME: THABO SEFOLOSHA 

-Sefolosha finished with 14 points and went 4-8 from long range. His +/- was a game-high +45 in just over 21 minutes. He also pulled down four rebounds, dished out three assists and had one steal.

PLAYED A TERRIBLE GAME: KEMBA WALKER

-See Statistic-ular Fortitude above. 

ROOKIE WATCH: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

-I really wasn’t impressed with Kidd-Gilchrist, but then again, there wasn’t anything to be impressed with the Bobcats anyway. He finished the game with just eight points in 22 minutes and pulled down three boards. He got Serge Ibaka off his feet with a great head-fake on one play early, but other than that he was average offensively. He wasn’t allowed to guard KD in the first quarter, which tells me Mike Dunlap doesn’t have much faith in his defense yet. He has only played 12 games, but his first trip to OKC was still well below average. GRADE: D

 

SCOTT BROOKS QUOTES

-Open: “They had a bad night. Let’s face it, this team has been playing good basketball to start the season. We will all go through a game like this. It happens.”

-On Thabeet’s development: “When we signed him over the summer we had to work on a few things in order for him to have success. One was conditioning and getting in better shape. He’s done that. It’s a credit to our staff.”

-On mixed rotations: “I’m looking for lineups that get steps and also match-ups. Certain guys play better against certain players and I have a luxury with Kevin (Durant) because I can put him at the two, three or four.

 

NEXT GAME: Wednesday vs. Houston Rockets (6-7) 7:00 PM CT

 

Grizzlies Handle Thunder 107-97

THUNDER REACTION

GAME 9 vs. Memphis Grizzlies:  L (107-97)

The Grizzlies became the first team to hang 100 points on the Thunder while handing them their third loss of the season Wednesday at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City.

 

1st QUARTER GAME NOTES

The Thunder looked like they were in cruise control once again after the first quarter. They jumped out to a 10-point lead with Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha droppin eight apiece in the first 12 minutes. Memphis got off to a horrible start offensively and shot 32% to start the game including 2-9 from Tony Allen and Mark Gasol.

 

2nd QUARTER GAME NOTES

Memphis turned the game around in the second period, outscoring the Thunder 36-15. The difference ended up coming down to bench play. The Grizzlies’ bench outscored Oklahoma City’s 18-6 in the second period while Quincy Pondexter knocked down three three’s. Jarryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington combined for seven points as well.

 

3rd QUARTER GAME NOTES

OKC did its best to climb back into it after the half; however, Memphis continued to play well offensively. Rudy Gay scored nine of his 18 second half-points in the third quarter and Zach Randolph got going with eight. OKC shot over 56% from the field, but couldn’t stop anybody defensively. Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka combined to hit every shot for OKC in the third period.

 

4th QUARTER GAME NOTES

Once again the Thunder played well in the fourth period, but once again the Grizzlies played well also and held off OKC to earn their sixth victory of the year. Rudy Gay caught fire in the third and continued his hot shooting in the fourth. He scored nine points and scored on three straight possessions with Durant in his face. Bayless turned in nine points in the fourth as well with Randolph and Gasol combining for four.

 

SCOTT BROOKS ON: What went wrong in the 2nd quarter.

“Ellington came in and hit three tough shots and they picked the intensity up. We gave them a lot of looks around the basket, but 21 points on us, I don’t think that will happen again all season.”

 

SCOTT BROOKS ON: Kevin Martin’s first game in single digits.

“It’s something that we definitely need to look at because we need his offense. For whatever reason, four shots is not good enough. It was a combination of the team, myself and Kevin (Marin). I didn’t do a good job and he didn’t do a good job, but we will figure that out.”

 

 

MY RANDOM NOTES

 

  • This was a very physical and intense game. It had a playoff feel to it and you could tell the players felt the same way when Randolph and Kendrick Perkins got ejected in the fourth quarter. I thought the Clippers/Grizzlies rivalry was brewing, but the Thunder/Grizzlies is boiling as well.

 

  • When Westbrook gets off to a slow start, he usually has a terrible offensive game. Not tonight. He had his worst shooting game of the season, but had his best facilitating game of the season (13 assists). He always finds a way to make you shake your head, but this is a growing step. He’s still so young and has a so much to learn. Sometimes it’s nice to see the learning process in action.

 

  • Kevin Martin only took four shots and OKC lost. Something tells me that the team needs him to take control more or they won’t win very many games. He had a tough time against Memphis’ strong defense and sort of zoned out. I hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come for Martin against good defensive teams.

 

  • The Grizzlies’ bench could be the best in the league. Quincy Pondexter, Jerryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington make up a solid core for their second team. Memphis scares me if I’m a Thunder fan. They have size, the can score from anywhere on the court and they dominate defensively. Could Memphis eliminate OKC if they meet in the playoffs? I think they can.

 

  • I’ve heard some other guys talking about the crowds OKC has had this season. They’ve said the noise level hasn’t come close to what it was last year and after tonight, I agree. It’s almost as if the fans are bored with the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and others. If it’s not the Heat or Lakers, it’s going to be an average crowd. Let’s all hope that mentality doesn’t catch on.

 

PLAYERS OF THE NIGHT

-Kevin Durant: 34 Points / 10 Rebounds / 5 Assists

-Russell Westbrook: 17 Points / 13 Assists / 6 Rebounds

-Serge Ibaka: 17 Points / 8 Rebounds / 4 Blocks

 

-Rudy Gay: 28 Points / 6 Rebounds / 5 Assists (POG)

-Zach Randolph: 20 Points / 11 Rebounds / 2 Steals

-Marc Gasol: 14 Points / 6 Rebounds / 2 Blocks

 

NEXT GAME: Nov. 16 at New Orleans (3-3)

Durant and Westbrook Carry Thunder Past the Cavs

THUNDER REACTION

GAME 7 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:  W (106-91)

The Oklahoma City Thunder earned their fourth straight victory with a 106-91 win over the Cleveland Cavs at the Chesapeake Arena Sunday. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 53 points while Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin scored in double figures as well.

1st QUARTER GAME NOTES

The Cavs jumped out to a quick start hitting eight of their first 10 shots. However, Oklahoma City’s defense stiffened and the Thunder went on a 20-4 run to end the period with a 27-21 lead. Russell Westbrook led OKC with seven points, but turned the ball over three times. Deion Waiters and Kyrie Irving combined for 13 points for Cleveland.

2nd QUARTER GAME NOTES

OKC extended their lead in the second quarter thanks mostly to Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin. The “big 3” combined for 16 points in the second, Westbrook leading the way with six. OKC’s defense held Waiters and Irving to just five after they scored 13 in the opening period.

3rd QUARTER GAME NOTES

Cleveland pulled to within six points after the third quarter thanks to Kyrie Irving’s 10 points and two assists. KD and Westbrook combined for 16 points including a half-court, buzzer beating three from Westbrook. OKC ended the quarter shooting 55% from the field for the first 36 minutes.

4th QUARTER GAME NOTES

Westbrook opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run after hitting a buzzer-beater three at the end of the third quarter. Westbrook, Martin and Durant combined for 19 points in the period as they put the Cavs away. Cleveland never stood a chance with Irving on the bench to start the fourth. The Thunder ran away down the stretch and earned its fifth victory while handing the Cavs their fifth loss.

 

SCOTT BROOKS ON: What other things think about defense.

“I don’t know what other teams are focusing on, but I know that we’re playing our best basketball when we’re thinking defensive thoughts.”

SCOTT BROOKS ON: Getting to know Kevin Martin.

“His last two teams were rebuilding teams and he was their scorer. The rest of the league looks at players like that and think that they don’t play defense. He’s come in and played defense. I think it’s solid. He’s making players work and he gets his hands on a lot of basketballs. His defense is much better than his reputation.”

SCOTT BROOKS ON: Perkins playing better.

“He didn’t play any basketball this summer. He had two surgeries that prevented him from playing and he played just occasionally during training camp. A lot of it was non-contact and by himself. He’s still getting the feel, but it’s not about stats with him. We need his toughness.”

 

MY RANDOM NOTES

 

  • I feel like Westbrook is trying this season to be more of a facilitator. He is making better passes and running the offense better, but he’s still turning the ball over too much. If he could ever figure out the turnover issue there’s no telling what he could do to this league.  

 

  • K-Mart is a straight scorer. Byron Scott said before the game that he helps OKC because he’s a better scorer than James Harden, who he (Scott) claims to be a better “overall” player. I think Martin is perfect for the Thunder. He creates offense off the ball, which is huge because Westbrook and KD have to have the ball in their hands for the offense to work.

 

  • I’m noticing a ton of head fakes from OKC this year, especially Thabo Sefolosha. He’s gotten more and more confident in his shot over the last few seasons, but he’s still smart enough to know a little pump-fake can lead to better shot-selection.

 

  • Scott Brooks has favored the small lineups so far this season. Against Cleveland, KD ran the four with Collison at the five and Perk at the five. Brooks’ first substitution of the second half came when K-Mart entered the game for Serge with about four minutes left in the third.

 

  • Kyrie Irving is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the league. He can score with any point guard in the league including Westbrook. He’s quietly becoming one of the NBA’s youngest superstars after winning Rookie of the Year last season and once Cleveland builds around him, they will be a force in the East.

 

  • I still can’t figure out where Deion Waiters went after the first quarter. He scored seven points in the first seven minutes, but was stranded for the rest of the game. Cleveland has a bright future with their young backcourt, but it is obvious Waiters still has a thing or two to learn.

 

PLAYERS OF THE NIGHT

-RUSEELL WESTBROOK: 27 Points / 10 Assists / 6 Rebounds (POG)

-KEVIN DURANT: 26 Points / 8 Rebounds / 2 Assists

-KEVIN MARTIN: 16 Points / 5 Rebounds / 6-9 Shooting

 

-KYRIE IRVING: 20 Points / 5 Assists / 4 Rebounds

-ALONZO GEE: 18 Points / 2 Steals

-DANIEL GIBSON: 16 Points / 5 Rebounds / 1 Steal

NEXT GAME: Nov. 12 at DETROIT (0-7) 

Live Blog: Miami – Dallas

I’ll be covering the Miami Heat – Dallas Mavericks game for Score Mobile. If you’re stuck somewhere without a television or just want more stats and a chance to add your own thoughts on the game, you can join me as I provide play-by-play coverage of the game.

You can follow my game coverage on your cell phone via Score Mobile or on your computer by using the application at the bottom of this post.

My coverage of the game will begin at 8:00 PM EST this evening.

And, if you’ve got a little extra cash kicking around, here’s a link to the best online sportsbooks. However, I don’t want you chirping at me if you lose a mortgage payment.

Live Blog: Rockets – Mavs

I’ll be covering the Houston Rockets – Dallas Mavericks game for Score Mobile. If you’re stuck somewhere without a television or just want more stats and a chance to add your own thoughts on the game, you can join me as I provide play-by-play coverage of the game.

You can follow my game coverage on your cell phone via Score Mobile or on your computer by using the application at the bottom of this post.

My coverage of the game will begin at 8:30 PM EST this evening.

And, if you’ve got a little extra cash kicking around, here’s a link to the best online sportsbooks. However, I don’t want you chirping at me if you lose a mortgage payment.

March Madness Live Blog: Ohio State – Syracuse

I’ll be covering the Ohio State – Syracuse game for Score Mobile. If you’re stuck somewhere without a television or just want more stats and a chance to add your own thoughts on the game, you can join me as I provide play-by-play coverage of the game.

You can follow my game coverage on your cell phone via Score Mobile or on your computer by using the application at the bottom of this post.

My coverage of the game will begin at 7:00 PM EST this evening.

March Madness Live Blog: Michigan State – Louisville

I’ll be covering the Michigan State – Louisville game for Score Mobile. If you’re stuck somewhere without a television or just want more stats and a chance to add your own thoughts on the game, you can join me as I provide play-by-play coverage of the game.

You can follow my game coverage on your cell phone via Score Mobile or on your computer by using the application at the bottom of this post.

My coverage of the game will begin at 7:40 PM EST this evening.

Raptors “Tank” On Canadian Forces Night

In a beautiful sense of irony, Toronto’s season in which they find clever ways to “tank” games to garner more lottery balls was a rousing success during Canadian Forces night.

With Toronto wearing their camouflage jerseys on Canadian Forces Night – and some players wearing equally horrible camo kicks – the Raptors showed an inability to battle through adversity in the fourth quarter and lost to the Chicago Bulls 94-83.

DeMar DeRozan exploded out of the gate scoring the first five points of the game for Toronto. He then added nine of Toronto’s first 15 points while going an impressive 4-6 from the field.

Things continued to roll early in the second quarter as DeRozan had 15 of Toronto’s first 31 points. He did this while shooting an efficient 7-13 from the field.

DeRozan finished the game with 23 points after being slowed down by a creative Bulls defence.

“They kept on switching up the match-ups,” Casey explained to me. “(Luol) Deng was on him some. Ronnie Brewer was on him some. Kyle Korver, who is a great lock-and-go guy was on him some. They started switching out onto their big guys onto the pin downs that we have for DeMar and that was effective.

“That’s what you’ve got to have someone else step up and take things over. I thought DeMar did have it going and we were trying to go to him in those situations, but again, Chicago is not chopped liver. Again, we competed for I’d say three and a half quarters of the game.”

Things were going smoothly for Toronto until the fourth quarter hit. With a 69-62 lead heading into the final quarter, Toronto collapsed.

Sorry, let me rephrase that: it was an epic collapse.

Chicago opened the quarter on a 22-3 run fueled by the strong play of John Lucas (12 points) and Kyle Korver (10 points).

What’s ironic is that all of the points Lucas and Korver scored were the only points either played score during the course of the entire game.

Toronto wasn’t able to regroup from this late surge from Chicago as they were held to a 13 points in the fourth quarter. Just shy off the season-low they scored against Chicago earlier this season.

Ouch.

“They came down and made tough shots,” Casey told the media when asked about Korver and Lucas. “I thought (Kyle) Korver got going. He and John Lucas did a heck of a job of making their shots. In those situations where you know a championship team is turning up the screws you have to make every play.”

Besides Korver and Lucas, the failure to hold onto the lead in the fourth quarter comes down to Toronto’s inability to execute during key stretches.

“They had a 15-3 run at the nine minute mark that changed the game,” a frustrated Dwane Casey lamented to the media after the loss. “They are one of the best defensive teams in the league and I thought we went toe-to-toe with them until that mark. That’s when they turned it up. We didn’t execute and I thought we had some good looks in those situations but we didn’t knock ‘em down.”

Sure, this loss is one of the tougher ones for Raptor fans to swallow, but at least they can take solace that it helped the team earn some more lottery balls.

It’s just a shame Toronto didn’t show more fight on a Canadian Forces Night.

Live Blog: New Mexico – Louisville

Are you ready for March Madness? If you’re stuck at a wedding or some other event, I’m going to help you out by providing you with a Live Blog of the New Mexico – Louisville game this evening.

I’ll be covering the game for Score Mobile. If you’re stuck somewhere without a television or just want more stats and a chance to add your own thoughts on the game, you can join me as I provide play-by-play coverage of the game.

You can follow my game coverage on your cell phone via Score Mobile or on your computer by using the application at the bottom of this post.

My coverage of the game will begin at 9:40 PM EST this evening.