Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Quick recap: the Thunder rediscovered their mojo for one night, ripping up the Hornets in the 1st half on their way to a 110-95 win.
The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New Orleans Hornets, 110-95. Playing on the road, the Thunder wasted little time in getting over their home loss to the Grizzlies.
From the opening tip, the game was never in doubt as the Thunder doubled up the Hornets in the 1st quarter, 36-18, and followed it up with a 30-19 2nd quarter. The over-matched Hornets could not contend with the physical play and strong shooting performance by OKC. As a team, OKC shot 54.1% from the floor and 14-29 from 3-point range. The Thunder held the Hornets to 42.3% shooting on the night.
The Thunder were led by Kevin Durant, who scored an efficient 27 points on 9-12 shooting, including 4-5 from 3-point range. He added 9 rebounds on the night to go along with 5 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Durant got great bench help from Kevin Martin, who overcame his poor offensive night against Memphis by scoring 27 points, which included 6-11 from 3-point range.
The Hornets were led by Ryan Anderson, who scored 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Rookie and #1 overall pick Anthony Davis had a rough night, as the Thunder's Serge Ibaka went to work on him in the post. Davis finished with 8 points on 4-14 shooting, but did grab 11 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
With respect to the struggling Hornets, it sure is nice to have an easy win for a change. To be sure the Thunder have played a number of sub-mediocre teams, but the difference was not in the competition, but in how OKC played. The Thunder took a staunch defensive approach from the get-go and never let the Hornets get any breathing room.
Truth be told there will be a number of games like this one throughout the rest of the season, where OKC should be a dominant team. The formula remains - as long as they can play strong defense, avoid giving up offensive rebounds, and share the ball, they will be able to have more blowout wins like this one tonight.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
The Thunder are the more talented team and they played up to their potential in the 1st half. In particular, OKC used tight defense from the onset, never allowing the Hornets to get quality shots and build any sort of momentum. Serge Ibaka in particular was active in the paint, showing rookie Anthony Davis how a big man is supposed to play in the NBA. Ibaka finished with 3 blocks on the night, but the tone he set in guarding the paint was even more instrumental in holding New Orleans to only 37 1st half points.
After halftime, the Thunder reeled things in a bit and allowed the Hornets offense to breathe, but at that point the outcome was academic.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
The Thunder shot 14-29 from 3-point range. Lest that be an actual excuse for the dominant performance, it is necessary to note that the high shooting percentage was directly influenced by the Thunder's ability to swing the ball around the perimeter and in and out of the post, which led to wide open shots.
The 3-point shooting has to be coupled with the Thunder's season high 31 team assists on the night. Led by Russell Westbrook, who had 12 of those assists by himself, OKC assisted on 31 of their 40 made baskets, an assist rate of 77.5%. Westbrook is still struggling to find his shooting range, but he once again roped in his propensity for high shooting volume and instead consistently worked to find his open teammates. His teammate Kevin Martin was a huge recipient, finding himself alone at the 3-point line all night. Westbrook's starting backcourt-mate Thabo Sefolosha also found success as a scoring target, scoring 11 points on 3-6 shooting from the 3-point line.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
The Thunder avoided a let-down game after losing on their home court to the Grizzlies two nights ago, and hopefully OKC is putting that loss permanently behind them as they have several huge games coming up, including the Clippers next Wednesday.
The hot shooting is great to see, but what we really want to take away from this game is:
1) The OKC offense continues to evolve and improve as they attempt to become an offensive system instead of a 2-man ball dominant team;
2) The defense continues its great run at setting the tone for how the game is to be played.
|Final - 11.16.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||36||30||28||16||110|
|New Orleans Hornets||18||19||30||28||95|
Be sure to read Rohan's quick recap At the Hive, because I'd like to get your feedback. Rohan writes:
It's worth noting: we saw a side of Kevin Durant tonight that I personally had never seen before. Durant spent much of the second and third quarters of this game laughing at and taunting various Hornets players. After a missed Vasquez free throw in the third, Durant could be seen laughing in his face, proclaiming he "got the next one." After a made three to put OKC up 30, he held a hand up in the air, struck a pose, and mugged his way back to the other end. Monty Williams was apparently among those unimpressed with Durant's actions, walking over to him at halftime, jabbing a finger in his face, and letting him know what he thought. Durant seemed genuinely taken aback at the time but was back at it in the second half.
I personally missed this interaction, but if you happened to catch it and have some thoughts, please share below in the comments.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 27 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, 15 points on 7-9 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks
Thunder Blunder: Scott Brooks, who should have worked his young bench players into the game much sooner for some valuable experience.
Thunder Plunderer: Ryan Anderson, 15 points, 7 rebounds
Next game: vs Golden State Warriors on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 6PM CDT
If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.