Thursday, January 1, 2009

A very nice way to bring in 2009

On a wild night in downtown Oklahoma City, with events going on all around Bricktown and beyond, the best show to be seen was in the Ford Center. Granted, I'm not really a Flaming Lips fan, but still. The Thunder really looked like a basketball team. A team that wasn't scrambling and searching for a way to just hang close. They looked like a team that knew what it was doing.

The offense executed in crucial situations. The defense stepped up and got stops when they needed it. They actually rebounded when they got said stop (45-35 advantage). They hit free throws (22-27). They played with intelligence and took care of the ball. It was really something.

Tonight's 107-100 win over Golden State makes Oklahoma City 4-29. There's been a lot of talk about the 1972-73 Sixers and the whole worst team ever thing. When that Philly team got its fourth win, it was 4-58. Hey, 4-29 ain't looking so bad.

Really three key moments stick out in tonight's win:

A. Jeff Green's buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter to make it 78-70 heading into the fourth with all the momentum in OKC's favor. That capped off a 27-15 quarter in favor of the Thunder in which they took control of the game. Green was unstoppable in the frame and his jumper carried much need mo into the fourth. With OKC up four with about a minute left in the third, I told my wife that the Thunder needed to be up eight to have a chance to win. And Green found my magic number. Then OKC kicked off the fourth with back-to-back buckets to take a 12 point advantage.

B. Russell Westbrook checking back in with 7:00 minutes to go. The Thunder had a nice lead, but it was being whittled away by the Warriors. Golden State was getting to the line and had a 12 point OKC lead down to three at 87-84. The defense was struggling, there was no intensity and it seemed everything was slipping away. But Westbrook checked back in, taking Damien Wilkins empty spot and immediately made a defensive impact grabbing a couple boards, deflecting some passes and picking up a steal. He got the offense moving again but more importantly, helped the defense regain itself.

C. Or the wildcard, when Dick Bavetta grabbed fellow ref Sean Wright and kissed him on the cheek when put on "Kiss Cam". Weird to everyone? Yes. Potentially rattling for the Warriors? Absolutely. But those type of things are expected when Bavetta is in play.

OKC dominated the paint, outscoring the Warriors 60-36 in the lane. A lot of that had to do with Chris Wilcox's biggest game of the year. In 36 minutes off the pine, Wilcox had 23 and nine and was solid defensively. His block on Marco Belinelli snuffed out a potential bucket and game changing play. Earl Watson finally played a nice game, scoring 11 and dishing six assists. (For the most part) he took smart shots and managed the offense well. Just eight players played, but other than the non-existent ghost that plays shooting guard, everybody was productive.

One troubling thing I've been noticing about Kevin Durant is his poor entry passes. He holds the ball too long, pumps it too much and throws it away too often. Against the Warriors, he turned it over four times and three of those were on terrible post entry passes. But other than that, he was really good. This was probably the best he's taken the ball to the rim this season. He handled the ball well, controlled it and got in the lane and finished. He was selective again on three pointers and took what was given to him. A Kevin Durant that uses tonight's repertoire along with his deadly smooth jumper could be a Kevin Durant that is a perennial All-Star and unstoppable scorer. And with Green playing well beside him, there's really something exciting brewing. The two combined for 51 points and if that can become a nightly trend, there's reason to be excited about the future.

Got to give it up to Oklahoma native Kelenna Azubuike though. He had 24 (23 in the second half) off the Warriors bench and hit back-to-back treys that tightened things up. I've always liked him.

Unlike the first game between these two squads, the Thunder wasn't playing from behind all night. The Warriors held the lead for most of the first half, but OKC was right there. There was incredible balance offensively with three Thunder players scoring over 20. As mentioned, Green was very awesome, Durant was excellent and Wilcox played his best game of the year. OKC was dominant on the glass and gave itself second chances with 14 offensive boards. The Thunder turned 20 Warrior giveaways into 24 points.

Two sequences can kind of sum up the effort of the two teams. On one possession early in the third, Stephen Jackson went to the rim and thought he was hacked. He sat on his butt at his own end with his elbows on his knees as OKC took off and had a full possession 5 on 4. The Thunder scored and Jackson finally got up. Late in the fourth, Wilcox didn't give up on a play after feeling he was fouled and streaked into the lane and tossed Belinelli's runner into Loud City. As Tom Ziller said, you can't accuse the Thunder of quitting. They played hard. They're trying to win. And maybe they're figuring out how.

The best part about tonight's win is that it wasn't against a team that was quitting. This was a team riding a two game winning streak with one of those against maybe the best team in the league. They were playing with confidence and most likely were focused to get a third straight win against the consensus worst team. But OKC stepped up. This game ended just a five game losing steak. That's an improvement from the previous two wins ending 14 and eight game losing streaks. So maybe next it will just be three in a row before a win. Then two. Then one. And then maybe a winning streak.

The Thunder will get an (unlikely) chance for two in a row Friday night against the very tough Nuggets. But after a good night like this, I think the page is turning a bit. Wins like this can help you to start shaking the "We're going to lose every game" feeling. OKC is no pushover. Winning is a long shot, but it's becoming a more realistic possibility on a night-to-night basis.

A nice way to kick off the Ron Adams/Nenad Krstic era. And an even nicer way to put 2008 in the books and head to 2009 (let's just ignore the fact that the team won only four times in 2008). Maybe this is a good sign for the team heading into the new year. New year, new coach, new player and a win to boot. Hopefully, this is a symbolic way to turn the page and make 2009 better than 2008.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

On CNN last night they showed NY, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Seattle ring in the New Year. Where was OKC? Does CNN not know about OKC's new status?

Anonymous said...

And you know what wasn't on TV? A Seattle Supersonics basketball game!

Anonymous said...

They should put a big turd on one of the downtown buildings and let it drop on Bricktown at the strike of midnight.

Clay Bennett said...

I had a blast at the Ford Center last night. The crowd was fantastic and it was so loud that my ears are still ringing this morning. There were some guys in the mens room wearing sonics jerseys trying to give everybody headjobs, which was a little wierd but other than that, a great time was had by all.

Frank Chopp said...

Seattle doesn't need the NBA, the NBA needs Seattle. We are the 12th largest market and the gateway to Asia. If the NBA wants an arena, they can build it themselves.

Anonymous said...

Clay I didn't know you still owned a Sonics jersey. Drink a little more moonshine and it will get that taste out of your mouth.

Anonymous said...

the thunder won without kristic. too bad he doesn't know he will be living in hell. say your prayers nenad! you will need them. look forward to the offseason when you can go home or look forward to road games.

Concerned Thunder Fan said...

Hey Clay, it was wierd how those guys in the sonics jerseys were trying to give everyone head. It doesn't make me gay if I let them, does it? They said that it was a sonics tradition and part of the "game experience" in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, how is Tuba Man doing? I heard the kind people of Seattle treated him really well at a local bus stop. God, Seattle is such a nice place!

Anonymous said...

"Seattle doesn't need the NBA, the NBA needs Seattle. We are the 12th largest market and the gateway to Asia. If the NBA wants an arena, they can build it themselves."

Being a "big" market and an "asian" market doesn't make you a GOOD market... case and point: NO MORE SONICS!!! BOOO HOOO!!!




Oh and you're never getting a team back.

Frank Chopp said...

The NBA will come crawling back to Seattle begging us to take them back and they are not going to be allowed back in until they do. There is nothing wrong with Key arena, it has the best sight lines in the NBA and there's not a bad seat in the house.

Anonymous said...

I think the gay Sonics tradition of blowjobs in the bathrooms needs to stay in Seattle. I don't want some Seattle sissy slobbering my knob when I go to take a wizz. I heard that it's how those SOS guys used to raise funds to fly banners all over the place.

Anonymous said...

"Not a bad seat in the house" or "not a used seat in the house"?

Sorry, sorry, Kemp played a 3 on 3 game in front of a couple of people I heard!

Anonymous said...

More childish gay jokes from the hick okies....just another example of how backwards they are. A head job is not "having sex" and getting a header from a buddy does not make you gay...stupid homophobes.

Anonymous said...

Being a dude and getting a blowjob from a dude isn't a gay activity in Seattle? You guys really are forward thinking.

Anonymous said...

I understand why you Okies are confused. Sex is something you have with your mom or the farm animals.

Anonymous said...

You troll unoficial internet fan blogs of OTHER TEAMS on a constant basis spewing hateful shit... i doubt you've had or will have sex with the opposite gender quite sometime...

Tuba Man R.I.P. said...

"They actually rebounded when they got said stop."

I just keep reading it, and reading it, and reading it,... The mind boggles.

And why has this blog developed a gay fetish? It's obviously just one Okie, but still. I'm looking forward to Royce's new comments policies so we can get back to making fun of his writing style and end the gay bashing. Besides, I'm positive the gay-bash troll wouldn't have a problem with two hot chicks getting it on.

Seriously, doesn't Royce write like a preteen girl writing in her diary?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what's worse: Oklahoma fans' pathetic attempts on bashing Seattle by using only homosexual remarks or the fact that Seattle fans are so bitter about losing a team they didn't support (towards the end) that they come here to make fun of "Okies" and the author.

All of you, go back to watching the Sooners and the Seahawks and shut up. Both sides are a complete disgrace to your state.

Anonymous said...

You homophobes are sick. Trying to turn someting very natural into something dirty. We have a very proud gay community in Seattle and one of the largest gay pride celebrations in the country. You idiots that want to make fun of males performing oral sex on each other are the ones with the problem.

Clay Bennett said...

OUCH! Did I hit a nerve or something? You Seattle guys sure get "bitchy" when you get your panties in a bunch. Chill out and enjoy the Storm.

Anonymous said...

That's true, the Storm are even a playoff team. Great night on the town for Sonic trolls and their boyfriends!

Anonymous said...

Seattle is still Seattle, NBA or not.

New Orleans is still New Orleans, NBA or not.

You really can't say the same thing about OKC.

Anonymous said...

Look how tough the okies are at okcnbafans, it's easy to run your mouth when you don't allow anyone else at the party.

Rudy Gay said...

Does anyone else get the feeling all the gay shit, bashing or defending, is being written by the same person? I mean, it's the exact same tone and style.

Royce, get going with the promised new comment policy. It's 2009 already, for chrissakes.

Or better yet, does anyone here know of a better blog about the Supes than this one? Anyone?

Slade the gay blade said...

Yea Royce, Rudy wants it where the Seattle sissys can come here and bash your blog/OKC/The Thunder in peace and not have to tolerate Seattle bashing.

Of course, a person doesn't have to make things up or exaggerate about Seattle. The truth is funny enough....from first winless team in 119 years...to over 400,000 at the gay rights celebration when you couldn't get 400 to show up to "save the sonics"...and now when the state has this session alone to allocate funds for an arena or Clay gets to keep his 30 million dollars, the state is facing a 5 BILLION dollar budget deficit....You can't write comedy like that....It's ironic how the more they wish bad for us, the more things turn to shit for them.

Anonymous said...

OKC could only get less than 30% of the population to vote for MAPS for Millionaires.

Clunk Monkey said...

Okies are racist and homophobic I guess.

Anonymous said...

How'd the vote go on Seattles arena?

Anonymous said...

Went well. We sent the redneck packing and now you guys have an inflated sense of self worth. Good luck getting the NFL and MLB.

Maybe Miami will get hit by hurricane and you can help them out. A city can dream.

Gary Payton said...

That's funny....we got your team and you got Bennetts cock up your ass...it's just a matter of time until you lose the M's and 'hawks too...like a punk ass sissy who gets his lunch money taken away.

Anonymous said...

Gee, well thought out Gary. Keep them coming. I get to wake up in a world class city, you wake up scared someone will bust up your meth lab.

You do get to cheer for the Thunder so I suppose I should be jealous. I'm not, but if it makes you feel better you can think I do.

Bob Stoops said...

World class cold dreary days, traffic jams, cost of living, budget deficits and gay rights parades aren't going to make many people envy you.

I'll be in a true world class city next week partying and watching my team play for the National Championship. No one on South Beach will wish they were in Seattle...LOL

Anonymous said...

If only you knew what people in Miami thought of OKC. LOL

Samuel said...

I love how this d-bag makes fun of Seattle's high cost of living. You know WHY Seattle has a high cost of living? Because people actually want to live there!

Anonymous said...

Must be a heavy flow this month up in Seattle. I'd go with the Pearl Ultra....

Samuel said...

As always, highly mature and witty insults coming from the OKC side.

Anonymous said...

Because dropping a big turd in bricktown or incest jokes are higly mature and witty insults. God you northwestern anus pounders are self righteous.

bigots said...

You know what? I am gay. And I love basketball. Do you have a problem with me?

SonicFan said...

Bigots, 98% of the readers of this blog have no problem with that. Don't let the 2% bring you down, I'm sure they're miserable people in real life.

Anonymous said...

to over 400,000 at the gay rights celebration when you couldn't get 400 to show up to "save the sonics"...

sounds like if a city supports human rights over nba extortion, it has its priorities in order. so sad that you have to say something like this to think you are proving a point....

ps: you still have to live in oklahoma city.

Clay Bennett said...

A gay Sonics fan...wow, that's a real shocker...Hey Bigots, I support you. Put on a Sonics jerseys and hang out in the bathroom at the Ford Center tonight and I'll let you suck me off when I come in to take a piss. Do you swallow? Bonus points if you do. Do you have a plump ass? My buddys might be interested in pounding your sissy bottom while I'm face fucking you, if you're down.

bigots said...

You are going straight to hell.

Clay Bennett said...

Actually, the bible says pretty clearly that you are, Bigots. Does that mean your interested?

hagen said...

"to over 400,000 at the gay rights celebration when you couldn't get 400 to show up to "save the sonics"..."

We had 2000-3000 show up at the Sonics rally, douchebag! And 400,000??? That is roughly 2/3 of Seattle's population! Who outside of Oklahoma do you expect to believe such bullshit?

And LOL at the dense Okies talking tough after their 4th win. What is wrong with you people? Seattle has a lot of losers, but I'm convinced that the entire population of OKC is fucked up in the head.

Anonymous said...

Okie incest.

Anonymous said...

that's arkansas