Last week was a week the Thunder would quickly like to forget. Tough losses mixed with strange ejections made for a few interesting topics to look back at in this week's edition of Beyond The Arc. So lets jump right in shall we?
Mortal Kombat Award - Serge Ibaka
Much was discussed and cussed when it came to Serge Ibaka and the circumstances surrounding his ejection vs. the Clippers last week. The actual dust up with Blake Griffin that got Ibaka ejected from the game was pretty weak sauce and did not warrant an ejection. But Ibaka did not help things with his standing and cocking back his arm and fist like he was ready and eager to start swinging. All I could think about the entire time this was going on was that Ibaka looked like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. I kept waiting for him to yell "GET OVER HERE!" right before shooting his spear rope at Blake Griffin. Seeing that took me back to the days of my youth and riding my bike up to the 7-11 near my house and playing the arcade version of that game for many many hours. Thank you Serge Ibaka for giving me that.
I mean, was there a bigger kick to the groin than that game? The night before the Thunder dominated the first half vs. the Clippers. Then Ibaka gets tossed and the script gets flipped on the Thunder. They take a plane ride up the coast to play the Warriors the next evening, are down by double-digits in the 4th quarter to fight back and take a one point lead on a ridiculous three point shot. What happens next? This happened next
I mean, just wow. They looked dead in that game, fought back, and actually took the lead. Then they had that happen to them. Those kind of losses can stick with a team for a while and spiral into more losses. Thankfully the Thunder are a pretty mentally strong team and those two losses did not turn into a losing streak.
I call them the Mickey Mouse Club because they are the young and bright future stars for the Thunder franchise. At least that is what the Thunder are hoping. I have been very bullish on Steven Adams mainly because him and Jeremy Lamb are the two pieces left from the James Harden trade. I was very impressed with how all three of these players played in the win vs. the Nuggets on Monday. The Thunder were down 11 in the second quarter at home to a so-so Denver Nuggets team and the comeback was lead by these three young players. Adams was doing his best Nick Collison impression working the two man screen game with Jeremy Lamb who cut to the basket for a lay-up. Jackson was running the team and getting the ball to the proper play makers and scoring when he need to do so. It was a welcome site to see.
Holy Crap Did That Just Happen?!? Award - Andre Drummond's Dunk
I mean seriously...Did you see his dunk vs. the Lakers?
I have watched that dunk about 20 times. Thankfully Drummond was not fouled on the dunk or else we will would have had to see attempt to shoot a free throw.
Honest Reaction Award - Rajon Rondo
If you did not see Rajon Rondo's reaction after he was handed a stat sheet during the blow out loss to the Rockets the other night, then you missed one of the more refreshing and God honest reactions to something you will ever see.
His reaction got me thinking of what other things could happen to Rondo to force this kind of honest reaction. Here are a few things that came to mind:
- He just saw the 'surprise' twist at the end of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village
- He lost a game of Connect Four to Big Baby Davis
- He saw Spock talking to Spock Prime in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek film
- He watched the ending of Star Trek Into Darkness y J.J. Abrams
- He watched the series finale of LOST (You might be noticing a theme)
- He is baffled by any scene of Homeland that has Dana Brody in it.
- He saw this Volvo commercial
And finally, Rondo noticed that Avery Bradley went 5-22 in 27 mins and post a plus/minus of -36.
Danger Zone Award - Russell Westbrook
Not only did Mr. Westbrook hit an insane 30 foot three to give the Thunder the lead (briefly) with 2.8 second left
He also stepped up big in with his stat line as well averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 boards, and 6.2 dimes to go along with 1.4 steals. I was really impressed with his play on Saturday vs. the Bucks in the 4th quarter. The Thunder had some trouble shaking the Bucks all night and looked to create some separation to end the 3rd quarter and to start the 4th by stretching the lead to 9 points. Bucks were able to get the lead down to 4 points then Westbrook hits an 18 foot jumper and then assisted on Ibaka's made jumper to get the lead back to 8 points.
Westbrook followed up his performance vs. the Bucks with a very strong game vs. the Nuggets where he was able to put J.J. Hickson on ice skates to hit a very clutch layup to extended the lead to 4 points with 22.3 second left.
Very dangerous week for Russell Westbrook.
Walter White Empire Scale: 5 (Last week 7)
I feel like a 5 is being really generous. They lost back to back games vs. two teams that they are going to challenge with for the top four spots in the Western Conference. Not to mention they let the Bucks hang around a little too long for my comfort and they did get down double-digits to a very average Nuggets team at home. They were able to avenge one of those losses vs. the Clippers last night so that is an encouraging sign.
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note - Scorpion head image via Sakis25 at DeviantArt