Monday, December 29, 2008

Phoenix burns Oklahoma City a second time

A fast start, a slow finish. Oklahoma City scored as many points in the fourth quarter (15) as Russell Westbrook did in the first. Kevin Durant shot horribly (5-17). The Thunder rebounded terribly (37-28 in favor of Phoenix). And OKC shot poorly from the line (67 percent). All in all, it added up to just what we expected - another loss.

I wish I could figure out why only two parts of the three part group of Westbrook, Jeff Green and Durant seem to click on a night-to-night basis. Tonight Westbrook was fantastic scoring the ball, netting a career-high 31 on 12-16 shooting with 3-4 from downtown. He also dished five assists, but turned it over six times. Green had 22 and 11 and played a whopping 45 minutes. He did a yeoman's job on Amare Stoudemire, holding him to just 14 points and kept him in foul trouble all night. But Durant. He did have 18 points - most of it coming from the line - but shot just 5-17 from the floor and 0-5 from three. As much praise as he's received from his three-point shooting this month lately, he's gone 2-15 from moneyland the past three games. It doesn't seem like he's taking those threes in rhythm anymore and looks like he's forcing some. I'm not complaining about the guy because everybody deserves an off night, especially after his recent 10 game tear. It's just extremely clear that in order for OKC to actually win, all three parts have to be clicking because the supporting cast isn't going to get the job done.

But there was a huge moment in tonight's game - for the first time in a while, Earl Watson impressed me. Not his overall game because per usual, he had little impact on the game, but his over-the-shoulder, no-look to Robert Swift was really sweet. Other than that, he just frustrated me.

It's clear how weak the Thunder are in the post. Swift got the start, but Shaq just dominated. It appeared as if he could score every possession. He had 28 and 12, but was just dominant in the paint. The Thunder hung tough and led for a about two thirds of the game, but once Phoenix took a 7-10 point lead, it just felt like OKC was hanging on by a thread. At any moment it felt like the Suns could blow this thing open. Of course, a lot of the reason why it never happened was because Steve Nash headed to the locker room early in the first half with back spasms.

It all started to really fall apart late in the third when Phoenix got in the bonus with about five minutes left in the period. But then the Thunder got the bonus too. Which made for a painful final four minutes as basically the teams would play 15 seconds, a whistle would blow and somebody would shoot two freebies. Start the clock and repeat.

The Suns have become a pretty good looking half court team and they run pretty clean sets. Most of it goes through Stoudemire and Shaq, but why wouldn't it? They've got good three-point guys and they've got a good slasher/jump shooter (Jason Richardson). They could be a lot tougher down the road than people are giving them credit for. They're 17-12 and while the Thunder played them tough, the second half never felt to be in doubt. The Suns had control and OKC was scrambling to stay close. Phoenix could probably use another body or two off the bench, especially in the post (Joe Smith could flourish there picking and popping all night long).

Kyle Weaver got quite a bit of burn again and he was relatively productive. But you can see that the NBA game is a little overwhelming for him. At one point he fouled Shaq and gave him an and-one and Scott Brooks called him over and wrapped his arms around Weaver and said, "Wrap him up." Weaver nodded with the kind of look that said, "I think I know I was supposed to do that, but it never occurred to me to actually do it." Maybe he's getting more floor time because Sam Presti is trying to see if he can serve as a decent back-up point guard in order to move Watson. The trade rumors are blowing like the wind in OKC and some moves are likely coming.

I've said it before but I'm sure every OKC feels it every night - we all know what the outcome will likely be each night, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating to watch. If you could really go back and flip about four or five plays in the Thunder's favor, these games might go their way. But that really sums up the difference between good, average and bad teams. The toss up plays never go in the Thunder's favor and as a result, we're looking at a 3-29 record. (Sigh.) It's bad to be that bad, but at least the team is competitive on a nightly basis.

A day off and then back to the Ford to play 9-23 Golden State Wednesday night. I'm not saying anything about it being winnable. Nope. Not gonna say it.

12 comments:

Royce is the Smartest Man in OKC said...

Royce, how much do you charge for writing lessons? I'm thinking about starting a fucking terrible blog of my own.

Anonymous said...

Well the Thunder played well in spurts tonite but when it mattered, they sucked harder than a Seattle dude on a Saturday nite.

Gay Jokes Are Your Only Weapon? said...

Stay classy, Oklahoma.

Clay Bennett said...

Keep losing, Seattle. So....New Years Eve, we have the Thunder playing in the Ford Center with the Flaming Lips putting on their annual New Years party at the Cox Center across the street and over 50 thousand people partying outside in the streets of downtown OKC. Then we all take off for Miami, to bask on the beach and then cheer on the greatest college football team of all time as they play for ANOTHER national championship. What's going on in Seattle sports?

Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds like a great time. Here in Seattle, we will all stay in on New Year's Eve and mourn the loss of the Sonics and hope for better years for the M's, Seahawks, Huskies, and Cougars. Oh wait a second - nevermind. Unlike OKC, Seattle's sense of self-worth doesn't depend entirely on its sports scene.

Anonymous said...

Great loss tonight. We have the patent on being losers. Glad to see the team is representing us retarded Oklahomans in an appropriate manner.

Royce = Gestapo said...

HAHAHA see end of comments section from Royce's previous post. Royce really exposes what an illiterate degenerate he is. And he calls himself a journalist. I guess that's what happens when you grow up thinking Darnell Mayberry is something to aspire to.

Earl Watson said...

Damn, the homophobia and gay bashing in these comments lately is getting over the top. You going to do something about it, Royce?

Of course you won't. 'Cause you're a racist, homophobic okie. Unless the blaeks can dribble or catch, you guys want nothing to do with 'em. If Mason came out of the closet tomorrow, you'd run him out of town. And you know what I'm saying is true.

Other than that, nice post. But try to be more upbeat about the Supes. There's always a next game...

hagen said...

I can't decide if being the smartest guy in OKC is being like:

A. The last guy to get shot in a firing squad execution.

B. The person with the least serious disease in the hospital.

C. The wealthiest bum at the rescue mission.

I'm leaning towards "C."

Anonymous said...

The Thud-ner's winning percentage is less than 10%. That's almost the same percentage that Royce has at being a good writer someday. Spooky!

Anonymous said...

Since royce is going to block our comments in the near future, I'd like to part by saying....

FUCK YOU ROYCE YOU IGNORANT DEER-KILLING YOKEL. MAY YOUR TEAM GO UNDER .100 FOR THE YEAR AND MAY THE THUNDER NEVER PLAY A PLAYOFF GAME BEFORE RELOCATING.

Anonymous said...

"Deer Killing Yokel"

LOL

The Thunder suck donkey balls, Clay really sold you guys a bill of goods.