Well, what is there to say about this game?
After the second quarter, this game was over. Sure, the game might have still been statistically in reach, but it wasn't realistically in reach. The Thunder couldn't hit a 3 pointer if their life depended on it, and 39% from the field doesn't exactly cut it either. It just reminded us of the painful fact that we have no shooters, and that almost all of our scoring come from right next to the basket and from the line.
Below: Analysis, Awards (I promise, they're lengthy!)
First, let me just say that defensively, we did everything right. We limited them to 40% from the field and 29% from the 3 Point line. Heck, we even equaled them in total rebounding. So, what was the problem, you may ask? Well, it all comes down to turnovers and free throws. They had 9 more attempts than us at the line (totaling up to 5 more points), and they had 3 less turnovers. The second quarter collapse didn't help either. You can play with a team for three quarters if you want, but you can't completely collapse against them in one and expect to win. This game was almost like the Cleveland loss, except the collapse here came in the 2nd, rather than in the 4th.
Yet again, the Thunder Wonder for this game is Kevin Durant. 32 Points, 10 Rebounds, and a better performance than Carmelo Anthony is all that I have to say. The Thunder Down Under is Nick Collison, who really battled down low and helped us stay in this game. He was a big part of the first and fourth quarter runs. 14 Points, 5 Rebounds, and a whole lot of ammo for the cannons that declare him as the starter for this team. There might be something I'm missing, but Nenad Krstic has proved to be totally worthless against anything but immobile or European Centers offensively, and he doesn't provide much in the way of defense or rebounds. Sure, he can clear the lane and set picks all day, but couldn't Nick Collison do that while also providing something offensively and defensively? Look, I used to sit next to Krstic's friends, great people, and Krstic is a great guy. In fact, he'd probably be the guy who's jersey I'd be out to get next. But until he can prove that he can perform better than Nick Collison on a consistent basis, it's my recommendation that this 15 million dollar man sits on the bench.
The Thunder Blunder, however, is not Nenad Krstic. Rather, I'm turning to the Point Guard situation and Russell Westbrook. It's games like these that make me really miss Kevin Ollie. Now, before the fingers of hate start pointing at me, let me just say that I'm not in the Jim Traber camp which claims that Russell Westbrook will never be a "true" point guard. But, I'm also not in the camp of "Russell Westbrook is the greatest Point Guard Ever, let's put him in the All-Star Game". I'm somewhere in-between. I think that he's learning. Some nights, he'll be one of the most unselfish players on the court, throwing out 10 assists while hardly scoring at all. Some nights, he'll score really well, while dishing out few assists. Then, there's nights like these, where his scoring will be mediocre, and his assists will be below par. It's on nights like these we lose, and it's also on nights like these where I miss Kevin Ollie. I mean, how many times to I have to see Russell Westbrook just dribble down to the post and brick a layup? He's starting to look like Kyle Weaver offensively. And I know he had 14, but 5 of his points were in complete garbage time at the very end of the game. I'm not saying Kevin Ollie is better than Russell Westbrook by any means, I'm just saying that he brings stability to the offense in the middle of the game. He only shoots it if he knows he's open, and he triggers excellent ball movement amongst the team. Shaun Livingston will just go out there and copy Russell Westbrook's game. But I think it's helpful to have both Ollie and Westbrook, and I think Westbrook will have less of these games as time goes on. Unfortunately, for now, he's the Thunder Blunder.
And finally, on the Nuggets side of things, it was business as usual. Though Aaron Affalo and Kenyon Martin were shut down by Thabo Sefolosha and Jeff Green respectively, they still got a huge surge of scoring off of the bench via Chris "The Birdman" Andersen and J.R. Smith, who both combined for 34 points. Talk about former Hornets coming back to bite you. But the best performance of the day, and the Thunder Plunderer Award, is reserved for Carmelo Anthony, who had 31 Points, 5 Rebounds, and 2 Assists, all while shooting over 50%.
Next Game: Vs the Mavericks, Wednesday, December 16th, 7:00 PM Central Standard Time.