Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oklahoma City forgets to get off the bus in a 129-87 loss to Minnesota

Ever stay up waaaay too late on a Tuesday night, just sitting there on the couch mindlessly flipping channels, catching a cool episode of I Shouldn't Be Alive and then watching the same SportsCenter like four times? Then you wake up the next morning and you're a zombie until quitting time and all you can think about is, "Why in the heck didn't I go to bed at a reasonable time? I should have known I had business to take care of tomorrow." That was the Thunder tonight. Instead of finishing off the Knicks last night and cruising into tonight's game, they stayed up way later than they should have and they paid for it tonight.

What is there to say? Really, what is there to analyze, breakdown or write about after a 42 point (FORTY. TWO.) loss?

It was evident from the tip, the Thunder left their legs in Oklahoma City. Jumpshots were short. They were slow on the defensive end. Loose balls went to Minnesota every time. Perimeter defense was atrocious. I swear I saw a couple guys yawn while the ball was in play. Just bad all the way around. And you know what I have to say about it? It happens. Especially when you're not all that good and you're average age is 24. It's just bound to happen.

Under Brooks, this type of game hasn't occurred since the beat down in Cleveland in his second game at the helm. So almost two months of the team being competitive night in and night out is pretty good and like I said, it was just time for it again. Everything set up for it when the stretch of games, the tough on the night before, the road game in front of about 45 people and five degree weather outside.

Once the game was out of hand in the second half, there wasn't any effort to plug away and get back in it. And that was probably a wise decision by Scott Brooks. Tonight's game turned more into an elevated scrimmage than a competitive NBA game. Kevin Durant played just 22 minutes. Jeff Green played 19. Twelve guys played total. Including Nenad Krstic, who was clearly rusty, but clearly has ability. Hard to really gauge him in a laugher like this, but it's nice to see him in the rotation. Also nice to see Russell Westbrook continue to play well -- he was a bright spot as he went for 16 and 12 assists. And good to see Nick Collison back and he played well (17 and 10). Bummer the team was about as focused as me in Intellectual History of the 19th Century last semester, but there's no reason to flip over tables and curse the TV. As happy and encouraged we've been over the last week or so, we need to keep in mind this is still a 5-31 team that's not real good. Tonight was a pretty solid reminder.

But it just kept piling up and getting worse. It was 42-24 after one (with the Wolves shooting 75 percent in the quarter). It was 72-43 at half. 98-66 after three. And a horrible 129-87 in the end. Some will look at this and think, "Boy, just when I thought we were making up ground. What a step in the wrong direction." In my mind, this isn't really a step backward. Unless the Thunder lets this affect them and they fall into a funk as a result, tonight just wasn't them. Perfect stat to prove it: OKC was outrebounded 57-38. That just doesn't happen when they're focused and giving 100 percent. They may be a bad team, but they don't get outworked like that. We all know they're better than their record and we all know they're better than they showed tonight. And in the end, a 42 point loss counts for the same about of losses as the two-point one Minny handed to OKC over a month ago. (And hey, at least it's not as bad as Sacramento's 108-63 loss two weeks ago.)

(Quick note on today's trade: We all know what it was for and there's not much too it. Since signing Nads, there really wasn't room for 14 centers on the bench. Somebody had to go. Quite honestly, this is an excellent deal for the Thunder because Johan Petro was basically going to be seven feet of waste the rest of the way. I assume Sam Presti is shuffling here -- get Chucky Atkins and his expiring deal and now you have a backup point guard so you can move Earl Watson at the deadline (Watson has two years left). You also get the Nuggs first round pick, but I sense that pick will be a throw-in to somebody during a deadline deal. Good move by OKC.)

No overreaction here. Of course it's fairly disconcerting that the team lost by 42, but OKC is in a stretch of four games in five days and had to travel after a grueler last night. Now if something similar happens Friday night and the Thunder are flatter than a wall and don't show the same hustle and heart they have over the past three weeks, then I'll be upset. Granted, the next game is at home against a playoff team in Houston, but I fully expect OKC to bounce back and at least be competitive for 48.

4 comments:

AD said...

Ouch...

this stings alittle bit...

Sam said...

"We all know they're better than their record."

Don't speak for me - especially after a 42 point loss to the 2nd worst team in basketball.

Kelly said...

Royce, what were you doing in Intellectual History? Sounds terrible!

CaptainKD said...

I don't like Chucky and his low Basketball IQ...Though he has a good skill of 3pt shooting which will help us on perimeter offense.

OK, one of my friend who is a lakers fan told me that Chucky was one of the worst PG ever in laker history...worse than Smush Parker...OK anyway I give him my wishes...