You really couldn't have asked for more tonight, in the Thunder home finale at the Ford Center tonight. We had a very entertaining, physical, ballgame that came down to a final shot. We had three Thunder players with double-double's and we had the crowd more into the game tonight than they've been in a while down the stretch. It as the 8th consecutive sellout, and the 18th overall for the season. Oh, and the Thunder got the win and sent the Bobcats right out of the playoff hunt. Both teams were out there getting after it all game long, and the fans were right there every step of the way, cheering the team on, booing calls going the Bobcats way, and in general, they were Loud and Proud all night long. Its hard to think of a better way to send the fans home for the summer than a game like this.
The Thunder defense really came to play tonight, and they can 100% attribute this win to that tremendous effort. I was astonished when the Bobcats finished the first quarter shooting under 30%, and even though the Bobcats only lost by 3, they finished the game with just 33% shooting from the field, compared to 47% for the Thunder. When you take a look at the box score, its plain to see just how well the Thunder played defense tonight. They outrebounded the Bobcats by 11 (50-39), they blocked an astonishing 10 shots, and had 10 steals to go along with that. For a team that has struggled throughout the year defensively, it was a site to see. It was a good thing they had that kind of effort defensively as well, because if they hadn't, they probably wouldn't have been able to overcome 24 turnovers. If they can somehow find a way to play with that kind of defensive intensity and effort on an everyday basis, this team will be tough to beat in the years to come.
Kevin Durant was the teams leading scorer, although it was more of a team effort than is usually the case when Durant leads the team in scoring. KD had 20 points, followed closely by Nenad Krstic who had a great game with 19 points, and 9 rebounds. He was just 1 rebound shy of giving the Thunder 4 players with a double double for the night. The three who did were Kevin Durant (20 points, 10 rebounds), Jeff Green (10 points, 11 rebounds), and Russell Westbrook (10 points, 11 assists). Another notable on the stat sheet tonight was rookie Kyle Weaver, who looked anything but tonight, scoring 9 points, blocking 3 shots, grabbing 4 steals, and taking down 5 rebounds. He really picked up the slack defensively after Thabo Sefolosha left the game with a dislocated finger after scrambling on the floor in an attempt to recover a loose ball. It was definitely a total team effort, offensively, and defensively tonight.
For the Bobcats it was Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin who did the damage scoring finishing with 19 and 20 points respectively. Felton, Rad, and Wallace all contributed on offense as well, combining for 31 points. Gerald Wallace was a force on the boards (14 rebounds) and was a big scoring threat early in the game, and had a couple of highlight reel quality slams, but didn't contribute much in the points department after the first period. Emeka Okafor also contributed on the boards and pulled in 9 for the game.
One negative tonight was the absense of Nick Collison who took the night off with a hip injury according to head coach Scott Brooks. It would have been nice to see Collison in the mix as the Thunder closed out the season at home, especially considering that this was exactly his type of game. It was physical, gritty, and the garbage man would have had a lot of fun out there tonight had he not been sidelined. I'm sure it killed him to not be in there at many different points throughout the game.
The Thunder definitely sent Thunder fans out of the arena on a high note, and with a memorable game that will be in the back of the fans minds all summer, as they anticipate the home opener next season. Tough loss for the Bobcats as well since this loss officially puts them out of the playoffs. What a game it was, if you missed it, I surely hope you DVR'd it, because if you didn't see it, you definitely missed out.
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