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

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Live Blog: Rockets – Mavs

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March Madness Live Blog: Ohio State – Syracuse

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March Madness Live Blog: Michigan State – Louisville

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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

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Live Blog: Saint Louis – Memphis

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Live Blog: North Carolina State – San Diego State

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Live Blog: Harvard – Vanderbilt

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Live Blog: Colorado State – Murray State

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