Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rockets do their work at the charity stripe to down Thunder

I went and saw Gran Torino tonight (which was excellent, by the way) and didn't watch the game. So sue me.

Evidently, I missed a good one. I'm just doing a box score drive-by and here's a few quick ruminations:

1. No Chris Wilcox, no Damien Wilkins. Woo and woo. I like Joe's theory at Thunderguru -- holding Wilcox out so not to risk injury seems very plausible. Holding Wilkins out because OKC would be better off letting me hoist stupid jumpers seems very smart.

2. I listened to the first quarter on the radio, but one thing was pretty eye... er, ear-catching. The Rockets didn't make a field goal until three minutes left in the first quarter. Yet the most they ever trailed in that quarter was by seven. Incredible.

3. What's the deal with Robert Swift? Obviously, he's just a token starter. He's been in the first five the past six games, but the most minutes he's played has been 21. Tonight he played just 10. Are they trying to slowly -- and I mean slowly -- work him back into game shape? Or are they trying to keep him somewhat happy so that they can make a decision on whether to bring him back next year? Or is he just biding time until Krispy Nads is ready to take over full-time? I think I found my answer.

4. Speaking of Krispy, judging by the box score, it looks like he's adjusting decently back to the NBA game. But on the radio in the first quarter, I heard him make a major mental boo-boo. The Thunder had the ball with two seconds on the 24 and the ball went in two Krstic and he was totally clueless and swung the ball to Russell Westbrook. I'll just cut him some slack and chalk it up to being rusty, even though you could not play basketball in 45 years and have enough court awareness to look at the shot clock, especially when there's two seconds on it. But hey guys, come on... he's new.

5. Twenty-two turnovers? Seven by Kevin Durant? Geez.

6. I really wasn't aware Earl Watson was rehabbing a bum thumb for the first two months of the season and since he's been "healthy" he has been better. I'll give him that. But I only feel about .001 percent bad for all the ragging on him I've done. He's shooting better but he still takes too many "No, no, no, NO, NOOO!!!" jumpshots. And I think I like Kyle Weaver as Russell's backup more anyway.

7. When I have about two hours that I need to completely flush, I'll do research on this, but how many games has Oklahoma City lost this year while outshooting its opponents? I feel like this has happened a decent amount under Scott Brooks. Tonight, the Thunder shot 48 percent from the field while Houston shot 46. And on top of it, OKC took seven more shots! The difference was at the free throw line where Houston took 15 more and made 11 more than the Thunder.

8. Seriously, you look at that stat line and you've got to think OKC won. 44-31 in rebounds. 48-46 in field goal percentage. OKC made four threes, Houston made five. OKC had six steals, Houston had... oh, I see. Houston had 14 steals. And 21 points off 22 Thunder turnovers.

9. Nice lines though by Westbrook and Durant though. KD continues to be one of the best scorers in the league, notching 27, but his game is becoming full. Six rebounds and five assists to go with the points is nice. Westbrook put up 15, six and six. Is it just me or does anyone think that's going to be his consistent line for pretty much the rest of his career? He just screams 15, six and six to me.

10. I'm not really a moral victories kind of guy, but I don't really have a problem with some of these losses. The team is playing contenders extremely well, but there's just clearly one or two little, tiny things missing or these would be wins. And I fully expect that to be corrected by next year. So imagine all these under six-point losses Scott Brooks has piled up and make them wins. We'd be looking at a 13-24 record just on that alone instead of 5-32. Tack on more experience for the youngsters, more skills developing and maybe an added piece here or there and I think at this point next year we could see a 20-17 record. Is that crazy? Yeah, probably.


Joe said...

I am fine with the close losses too; what I don't want however, is the team to begin to "accept" losing; the players I mean. I don't want them to begin to accept a culture of losing.

Slade said...

Obviously turnovers killed us in this game, especially in the first half. As the young guys get older and more mature, we should see a lot of improvement in this area.

It looks like Krispy is going to be a good addition and I expect to see him starting soon.

I'm still looking forward to reading your thoughts on the Petro trade, Royce.

MartzMimic said...

I agree with you, Royce, about not minding a close loss. Yes, I want to see them win as much as anyone, but at least they're competitive most nights.

Can you believe that Yao didn't have a field goal until late in the third? Krstic didn't do much in the way of rebounds, but there were several times he tipped them out to our other guys.

Royce said...

It was kind of buried in my Minny recap and I don't know why anyone would read that anyway, but here's my initial thoughts on the Petro trade:

"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."

I just want to reiterate that this trade was NOT made for Chucky Atkins. OKC doesn't want him in any way. One of three things are going to come out of it:

A. It gives OKC leverage to deal Earl Watson and his two year contract and keep Chucky at a backup. So Earl gets dealt and the Thunder has a veteran backup for Russell.

B. OKC also picked up ANOTHER first rounder out of it. So more than likely Presti was trying to dump Petro and pick up more trade leverage in the end. So maybe in a Wilcox/Watson deal, Presti tosses in the Nuggs first rounder to sweeten the pot.

C. OKC keeps Atkins and Earl but leaves Atkins on the bench for the rest of the year and the trade was simply to free up room for Krstic. Or maybe Atkins gets moved again with Wilcox or Joe Smith. Kyle Weaver is the role player of the future but you can't rely on him yet to back up Russell. You have to have either Earl or Chucky for that.

Your thoughts?

Slade said...

I think your right on money. As you said, Petro was dead weight at the end of the bench. When rumors surfaced last week that Denver was talking To OKC about a big, the speculation was Weezy, Smith or Collison.

Presti turns a huge draft mistake in to another 1st round pick and a veteran back-up point guard that will free the Thunder to now move Watson.

I still expect to see Smith, Watson and most likely Weezy gone by the trade deadline.

On another note, Your troll free board is a 100% improvement.

Bob said...

Atkins won't be movable as part of a package before the trade deadline and I highly doubt he as value alone.

Just a way to start clearing the logjam inside (someone who is actually playing ie Wilcox, Collison or Joe Smith still must go) while getting a little veteran insurance at the point if Presti wants to move Watson. Is the Nuggets pick lottery protected ? I guess it is and it makes the early second rounder for a late 1st swap questionable IMO.

Do you really gain much value moving from the 31th to the 20-25th this year ? I don't think so you could even lose some. If you actually use the pick for a player the guy will be locked for several years and you clearly have less flexibility (because of the Rookie contracts) if you choose to pick a guy playing in Europe.

One of the late firsts has to go.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work.