Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thunder vs. Timberwolves: Reaction

This is what we all have waited for. It's amazing to think about where we are at. Thousands of us sat in front of a television tonight and watched a professional sports franchise that had "Oklahoma City" across the front and we didn't have to worry about them leaving. Try and imagine this happening four years ago. You can't. Why? Because there was no shot, no chance, no hope for little OKC to get a pro sports team.

But at 8 p.m. Wednesday night, we were all witnesses to the birth of Oklahoma City Thunder basketball. Just awesome. They lost 88-82 to Minnesota but who cares? We were watching our own team play pro basketball. (Highlights)

Anyway, enough of that. A few observations from the game:
  • KSBI's production was, to put it nicely, lacking. The picture looked like I was watching a replay of the 1985 Orange Bowl. It wasn't clear and the camera work was weak. The graphics were poor and the music sounded like it got ripped right off Tecmo NBA Basketball for regular Nintendo. I swear the Cox High School Game of the Week looks better than that. I understand that the lighting in that high school gym or whatever it was probably had some effect, but not THAT much.
  • And for basically the entire first quarter, some bar with a transparent gray screen kept flashing up about every 15 seconds just about giving me a seizure. Another issue was the scoreboard took up too much screen. It hung too low and too often were players' faces cut in half because they were in the scoreboard.
  • The announcers need work. First off, there were two Seattle/Sonics slip ups. That's just bad. You can't call the Thunder the Sonics by accident. Especially if you're the team's announcers. And Brian Davis talks way too much and his pretend/forced announcer voice isn't helping anything.
  • Russell Westbrook is reason for hope. Seriously, this guy is the real deal. I know it was just 20 minutes in a preseason game but the guy is a one-man fast break from hell. And boy, is he ever athletic. That swooping layup he had in the second quarter was a thing of beauty as he avoided the charge and finger-rolled it home. Very nice. He also showed some serious flashes of being a solid quarterback. He made a couple of nice dishes most notably the one to Chris Wilcox after he almost threw it away. Westbrook has the tools to be a star. He just has to put it together night in and night out for 82 games.
  • On a related note: I haven't watched a ton of Earl Watson but he has backup point guard written all over him. He just doesn't have the look or the game of a floor general. It seemed like the offense was stagnant and everyone stood still while Watson was running the show. I'm thinking within the first 15 games, Westbrook has taken over the starting spot and Watson is playing off the bench.
  • Turnovers, turnover, turnovers. Geez. You would've thought you were watching an OU women's basketball game with all the turning that was going on. Minnesota dropped it 25 times and OKC turned it 23 times. Holy crap. That's bad. Westbrook had six and Watson had five. It was the first time the team's have bounced a ball competitively in months and it showed. I don't know if it was good Thunder defense that forced the 25 turns or bad, bad T-Wolves offense. Either way, it could get ugly at times.
  • Quick hits: free throw shooting wasn't bad, but not great (20-28). Kyle Weaver, John Lucas, Robert Swift, D.J. White, Mo Sene and Joe Smith all didn't play - which hurt because the team basically had to rotate three big men. Kevin Durant did not shoot the ball well (3-13, 10 points). At times, the team had major trouble scoring, including just 15 first quarter points and a seven minute drought within that. And P.J. got teed in a preseason game! Awesome.
But keep in mind one thing - this was the preseason. This game didn't count for anything and doesn't mean anything. The starters didn't play for virtually an entire quarter at a point. But there are a lot of good things and bad, bad things to take from it. And now we get ready for Sacramento.

Earl Watson, PG281-70-10-01452
Kevin Durant, SF273-130-04-472310
Jeff Green, PF171-70-12-45144
Chris Wilcox, PF306-100-05-830217
Nick Collison, PF312-70-00-06204
Desmond Mason, SF81-20-02-22314
Russell Westbrook, PG85-90-13-433613
Damien Wilkins, SG167-121-24-650219
Johan Petro, C72-20-00-07124



(Preseason stats are far from accurate by the way, especially the minutes played. Westbrook actually played almost 20 minutes in the game, not eight.)

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