Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Grizzlies vs. Thunder: Don't just play harder, play better

vs.

Memphis Grizzlies (6-15) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-20)
Wednesday, December 10
Ford Center
Oklahoma City, OK
7:00 CST

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)

I'll you one thing, I'm sick of this "We've got to play harder" stuff. For a full month, that's been the soundbite from this team. I've watched this group play for a solid two months and "playing hard" is not the problem. That's just an excuse for what's actually the issue, or should I say issues.

A total lack of execution. Poor fundamentals. A misunderstanding of roles. Terrible chemistry. No rhythm or flow to the offense. Awful defense. Bad shooting. Bad rebounding. Bad ball control. Bad talent. Bad players. Bad team.

Playing hard has nothing to do with it. As far as I'm concerned, they are playing hard. But this isn't college basketball. You don't really squeeze wins away in the NBA because you outhustled the other team. Maybe in a match of two even squads, that's a difference maker. But when the talent gap is as big as it is when OKC plays, "playing hard" doesn't mean that much. You have to combine playing hard with all the intangibles that actually make up a decent basketball team. I don't care you dove on the floor 28 times if you shot only 22 percent from the field.

I really haven't watched a game yet where I thought, "Boy, they just aren't trying." I've watched games where it was clear the Thunder were flat or lacked intensity, but it wasn't like they weren't trying.

And as clear as its been that OKC has played better under Scott Brooks, there was a big step back Monday night against the Warriors. Most of the players chalked it up to "not playing hard." When in reality, the Thunder turned it over 20 times (15 in the first half) shot 60 percent from the free throw line, missed easy shots in the lane, played horrible defense, got dominated in the paint and didn't execute outside of giving the ball to Kevin Durant and watching him shoot. Is that "not playing hard?" Sounds to me that's "not playing good."

That brings us to tonight's game against Memphis. Somehow, the Thunder beat the Grizz on the road two and a half weeks ago. How? Because they didn't just "play hard." They executed, made shots, rebounded and made free throws. OKC trailed by 11 at the half but remained focused and stayed within itself. The did get to loose balls and secure rebounds - but that should just be part of it. Those things are completely within your control. Nobody should have to tell you to go get a rebound. You're a basketball player. You're supposed to just know and do that.

I don't know what to expect tonight. I would hope that after Monday's letdown against the Warriors, the Thunder would come out on fire and play its best game of the season. The Grizzlies are a terrible road team (1-10 on the road, 5-5 at home). This is winnable. People are expecting a win. It looks like another losing streak is building and this is a good chance to nip it before it starts rolling again and weighing on their minds. But with this group, who knows.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait, I don't get it. I thought the glorious sold-out Ford Center fans were supposed to energize the team? How can they not be "playing hard" with a loud, packed house cheering them on every night?

Royce said...

Read again. They ARE playing hard. That's not the problem.

Anonymous said...

OK Royce, I guess I'll take your word over that of the players.

By the way, I am a little confused. It seems like you are more disturbed by the fact that the team is not executing than you are by their lack of effort. If I was still a fan of that craptastic team, I would be willing to let them slide for their frequent lapses in execution. AFter all, they are young and still learning the ropes. But if I heard them repeatedly say that they weren't playing hard enough, it would piss me off to no end. You seem to have it backwards.

Royce said...

What I'm trying to say is the "not playing hard" thing is just an empty excuse. It's easy to chalk that up to the reason you're losing, but we all know that's not why.

You really think the Thunder are 2-20 because they didn't play hard enough? We all know there's other, bigger, more obvious reasons but the fact the team keeps saying, "We've just got to play harder" is getting frustrating to hear.

AD said...

Where's the "we've got to play better, smarter, more effective, more decisive, and more together"...

You're right Royce... It's more than effort thats the problem... much more.

Does that speak to Brooks as coach?... meaning is that all he has to offer... playing hard... because if all he has is to play hard and see what happens... that wont last...

Anonymous said...

That's weird - usually a team is very reluctant to admit that it is not playing hard. They'll usually FIRST try to pin it on stupid mental lapses, failure to execute, etc. Failure to put forth maximum effort is the cardinal sin of a professional sports team; I'm surprised the Thunder are so readily offering that as an excuse.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who watches this team can see they do not play hard enough. These players do not care if they win or lose and I'm tired of paying pro team prices to watch a bunch of overpaid babies give 50% effort.

I'm quickly losing interest in the Thunder, the NBA, and this entire bill of goods. All of this happened to fast, Clay took advantage of our desire to seem big league.

I give this franchise 5 more years and they will be gone, Oklahomans expect more effort and results. Sorry but it's true.

Steve H said...

Would it absolutely kill you losers to identify yourselves as something other than anonymous? If you are just here to do the spewing regional hate thing, I guess it really doesn't matter, but if you are looking for any sort of back and forth I'll tell you, its just about impossible to address your douche bag comments if we have to sort out "Anonymous #1" from "Anonymous #5". I think the team's main problem is pretty obviously a lack of mature talent. We have a core of two 2nd year players and a Rookie, one center that is worth a damn that is out with injuries 90% of the time, and a batch of expiring contracts that have been passed around the league to balance out NBA trade ledgers. Durant is going to be great. Westbrook is going to be really good, if not great. Green is going to be a great 6th man off the bench. The troll legions writing the franchise off as dead just a bunch of bitter losers with a regional axe to grind and computer access. Get lives gentlemen. Go talk to a girl- they're not as icky as the guys at your Warcraft chat room say they are. Trust me on this one.

Steve H is a D-Bag said...

You happy now?

Steve H is a D-Bag said...

It has nothing to do with regional hate. It is hatred for Aubrey, Clay and the spineless fans who supported them. I have no problem with OKC as a city or for any of its residents who happen to have a conscience.

Anonymous said...

Steve H, It's painfully clear that Clay destroyed the roster to get out of Seattle. The problem is that he got here too soon. I bought season tickets like everyone else and now I feel screwed. I do not enjoy the "game atmosphere" and for what I paid I believe I deserve more. More what? Effort. Oklahomans are not going to continue to line Clay's pockets as long as he puts this kind of team on the floor. We are an NBA embarrassment. Clay didn't deliver, our team is not made up of pros and that is not my fault, it's Clay's fault. It is my fault that I was sold on this bullshit. I will not renew my tickets next year and I know a lot of other fans in my section that are not going to renew either.

I'm taking a beating trying to sell the tickets I do not use, it is impossible to give them away. Clay should do the honorable thing and refund our money. He is already getting my tax dollars.

I'm not a bitter Seattle Sonics fan, I'm a guy that bought tickets to support my city and I'm realizing that it wasn't worth it.

Steve H is a D-Bag said...

I suspect the previous poster is a bitter Sonics fan. Although there are surely thousands of real OKC fans who share his sentiments. I can't wait to see what the season ticket renewal rate is next year (esp. if they don't get Griffin).

Anonymous said...

I am a proud Oklahoman who also suspects that this team is wearing out their welcome quickly.

I agree with some above comments - it's not the poor play, it's the lack of effort.

I don't think these guys want to have "OKLAHOMA CITY" on their chests. And I don't care anymore. Screw them.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you aren't a real Oklahoman - there are no grammatical errors in your post.

Anonymous said...

They don't want to be here and I'm starting to want them to leave. I am not going to the game tonight, I could not sell my tickets and I couldn't give them away at work. Maybe Steve H or Royce will buy them off of me.

I know I'm setting myself up with this question but screw it. Anyone else tired of the Thunder? Anyone else care if we are major league or not? Anyone else here planning on NOT renewing their season tickets?

I'll answer for myself.

I was happy to get a team but I'm not blind, these guys do not like it here and I'm sure we will lose them when they can go. I seriously doubt we can convince Kobe, LeBron, or any real superstars to come here. I feel like I was cheated on my tickets, I paid way to much since I can buy the same basic tickets for 1/32th the price at Craigslist.

Next season I will just wait and purchase tickets from Craigslist or better yet wait for some sap like myself to just give them away because the original buyer is fed up.

Steve H said...

Steve H is a D-bag, yes, actually, you made me laugh with that one. For what it is worth, I've got some animosity of my own for the Thunder ownership group's prior bullshit political activities- but the Team is here now. I was happy to get an NBA team in my hometown, and since no orphans were raped or puppies killed in the process, I plan to go to games and support them. That is how the world works. Colts fans were pissed when they moved out of Baltimore in the middle of the night- but that doesn't make the people of Indianapolis who supported them "spineless" or anything else for that matter. If it makes you feel better, that story ended with Baltimore stealing Cleveland's team, and then Cleveland wound up starting a new one from scratch that really, really stinks. See how this real world stuff works? Did you honestly think the people in OKC would boycott the Thunder because Sonics fans were unhappy with the Owners' conduct? Do you honestly think that because we support the local sports franchise that makes us worthy of contempt? Steve is a D-Bag, if that is your real name, can't we all just get along?
Oh, and Anonymous #2- Everybody knew the team would be bad this year- though maybe not last monday night bad. The Sonics were not going to get better with Allen and that Wildly over-paid dude that went to Orlando. Every year we would have finished just out, or just into the playoffs, without going beyond that. No money to buy big name free agents- no picks high enough to seriously improve through the draft. We sucked bad last year, and we suck bad this year- but NEXT year....

Steve H is a D-Bag said...

Steve H, I love you too. Let's do our best Thunder impression and hug it out.

Anonymous said...

If anyone thinks the Thunder are going to turn all of this around and be good within 5 to 10 years is a grade A idiot. I'm sure the franchise will try to get better but it's not going to happen overnight and there is no way in hell any star players are going to come here.

I really wish we wouldn't have run our mouths for 4 years because we look like morons.

Steve H said...

Anonymous troll claiming to be from OKC- You obviously don't know shit about basketball. Players first and foremost want to get paid. Yes, winning is an equal priority for multi-multi millionaire's like the Kobes and Lebrons of the league, but there are quite a few Boozers and Boshs, Michael Redds and Joe Johnsons that would play in Amarillo if they offered them more than the other teams are willing/able to pay- and the Thunder are going to be further under the cap than any other team. Portland has made a remarkably quick turnaround working primarily through the draft. The Thunder has done as well as anyone draft wise these last two years- are positioned to do the same for the next two- and have mad money to throw around on top of that. Thanks for your entirely unsupported opinion- could you elaborate on WHY lots of top picks and a ton of cash won't let you rebuild fast? And as a follow up question proffessor- please tell us what WOULD do the trick- relocating to Paris?

Steve H is a D-Bag said...

Ouch guys, tough loss. But just think - you would have lost this by 35 if PJ was still around. All hail Coach Scotty!!

Anonymous said...

Steve H it's not regional hate it's Oklahoma City hate. You guys earned it. Why didn't the crowd cheer the team on to victory tonight? Thats what you guys used to do before the Blunder got there.

Doug Loadonback said...

OKC isn't that bad if you drink a lot.

Anonymous said...

I laugh my ass off at the Thunder losing all these heartbreakers at home. I remember last year whenever the Hornets would drop a game in New Orleans all the Okies would say how that never used to happen in OKC.

LOL what a bunch of ignorant hicks.

AD said...

We'll be allright Royce...

It'll just take some time... I know thats been said over and over but its true...

Durant, Green, and Westbrook are young and worth building around...

Hard work endures all...

The Seattle guys will thin out in time... I dont really blame them... I'd be pissed too

Brian from Seattle(notahater) said...

The big question is whether they can get good enough fast enough to hold interest and players. If they win say 10 games this year then what is their best hope next year,20? Durant is going to be eyeing bigger markets soon. He had his first year ruined by ownership, his second and third year destroyed by the lack of veterans, then suddenly he is supposed to extend in the smallest media market in the league just on the hope that an ownership group made up of liars who have lost a lot of their fortune will overspend to bring free agents to a small town with a terrible team? it is a really, really tough sell for a free agent. There are few situations where 1 team can offer so much more than the next best offer. In most cases it leads to dramatic overpayment and that does not result in wins (Larry Hughes was the best Cleveland could get to play next to LeBron and they basically paid him the max)

Durant is 2 season in. Next year will be 3. After that he's 1 year frmo undistricted free agency and the questions start arising. Can they pay Green, Durant, and Westbrook all big deals when they are all 3rd and 4th year players who are not winning? Very tough sell.

I never imagined it would go this bad. I don't wish bad upon your team but it is tough to figure out how it can get back on track at this point.