What a game in Oklahoma City last night between the Thunder and the Blazers. It was a battle that had playoff intensity, physicality and atmosphere, great individual performances, and we saw the young core of a burgeoning NBA juggernaut take a formative step forward in their development. When it got down to winning time, the Thunder’s offense resorted to a two-man game focusing on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook running pick-and-pops and taking turns on isos and clearouts. Westbrook (28 points) ended up as the closer, burying three monster treys down the stretch to give OKC the 99-90 win … This season, it absolutely feels like the Thunder are starting to belong to KD and Russ (have you seen Russel’s kicks?), as opposed to just being Kevin Durant and a bunch of sidekicks. Everyone can feel it, including those two. Case in point, with under three minutes to go in the game, with the Thunder up four, Westbrook brought the ball up and completely ignored a wide open Durant who was standing about 15 feet away and calling for the ball. Westbrook dribbled for the entire possession, only to get picked by Wes Matthews as he went to make his move towards the end of the shot clock. Would any of the Lakers do that to Kobe? Would any of the Cavs have done it to LeBron last season? Would Russ have done that to KD even a few months ago?? … Last night’s game was the first time we felt like we got a glimpse of what this new Thunder lineup can be, with two All-Stars in Durant and Westbrook and two monsters on the front line in Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. While the first two put up the majority of the points, the other two really won the game in the trenches. Boards, blocks (including one by each on one clutch possession down the stretch) and they kept LaMarcus Aldrige in check … One guy who was not kept in check was Gerald Wallace. He was an animal last night, going for 40 and badgering (and beating up) Kevin Durant, forcing him into a 5-18 shooting performance … If you are playing the Miami Heat and you let LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh all go for 30 or more points in the same game, you literally have zero chance of winning – don’t even bother showing up. You sort of expect that two of them are going to get theirs heading into the game, but getting blitzed by all three is the doomsday scenario for an opposing team and coach. And to be honest, without that many shots to go around, you have to work hard to let the Big 3 all get 30. So congrats Houston, it’s not easy to get manhandled like you did last night, giving up 33 to James, 31 to Bosh and 30 to Wade (who sat out a while with a bone bruise), in a 125-119 loss to the Heat. Each one of those three guys each pulled down at least 10 boards. It’s been 50 years since an NBA team has had three guys go for 30 and 10. Oscar Robertson‘s 1961 Cincinnati Royals were the last team to get it done … What’s crazy is that the Rockets almost had three guys do the same thing. Kevin Martin had 29, Luis Scola had 28 and Kyle Lowry 25, so Miami was almost equally atrocious on defense … Read More: The Lakers smack a potential playoff opponent, the Marcus Thornton Monster is still rolling and parties in the streets of Richmond…
Smack / Mar 28, 2011 / 2:00 am
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