In the end it'll go down as just another notch into the loss column, but there were positives out there tonight. First and foremost, the lack of effort we've seen from this Thunder team recently was absolutely absent. Oklahoma City was mixing it up with the Nuggets all night long. From the opening tip-off these teams battled back and forth, and neither team ever really pulled out to a sizable lead. That back and forth action lasted nearly all night long until late in the middle of the 4th when the Nuggets turned it up a notch. Once the Nuggets hit that next level, they extended the lead gradually as the clock ticked its way down to all zeroes.
The first positive for the Thunder is Russell Westbrook hitting double digit assists for the game. Its crucial for his development at point guard to learn how to distribute the ball and create for his teamates. We've seen flashes of that througout the season and we saw some more of that tonight against a very good opponent. The one negative thing you could complain about his assists tonight was that most of them occured during the first half, and it would be nice to see him getting the offense running a little better as the game progressed. Had he been able to have as big an impact with assists during the second half as he did the first, well, the Thunder might have faired a little better in the final score category. He also scored 14 points, grabbed 6 boards, and had one steal. The big negative for RW0 is still the turnover stat, and tonight that total hit 5 for Russ.
Other Thunder players having a good game tonight were Kevin Durant and Jeff Green offensively pulling in 31 and 24 points respectively. Nenad Krstic also got in on the scoring action and had a much better shooting night than he's seen in a bit, hitting 7-10 for 17 points. Kevin Durant led the team in rebounding with 7, but when you look up and down the box score, everybody is bunched together with 4-6 rebounds on the night. Its unusual to see everyone pretty much bunched together with near the same number of boards, but maybe that's the reason why they got out rebounded, nobody stepped up and dominated the boards from our team.
Doing the damage against us were all the usual suspects for the Nuggets, and there were a bunch of them. Carmelo had 31 points, Nene 23, and Billups had 18. Off the bench for the Nuggets, J.R. Smith had a big night with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, and seemed unstoppable for a short period during the game. I remember at one point he just blew right by Thabo and I was like, damn, that was Sefolosha he just blew by, what else can we do? Even Kleiza contributed 17 points off the bench, not bad for a guy having a down year. The most impressive stat of the night though belongs to Chris "Birdman" Andersen who had 7 blocked shots, yes SEVEN BLOCKED SHOTS. I don't even think I need to say anything else, pure insanity Birdman, pure insanity.
It seems like every time these two teams meet they go at each other for 48 minutes, and its whoever is left standing at the end who wins. Unfortunately for the Thunder, its been the Nuggets all four times this season, thanks to two buzzer beater game winners by Carmelo Anthony earlier in the season. When this series rolls back around to the Ford Center next season, make sure you schedule your plans around getting to that game because when these teams play each other, you know it will be a great show. With an improved team heading into next year, its only going to get better.
And I'm sure everyone is sick of my HD snobbish attitude and incessant complaining about Thunder away games (as well as KSBI games) not being in HD, but I'm going to go with another rant right about now. Reason being is because this game was listed on the Thunder schedule as being broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma HD, and it wasn't. The game in Denver earlier this year was on Fox Sports Oklahoma HD, so why wasn't this one? I don't know if it was in Oklahoma City or not, but in Tulsa, it was not broadcast in HD, and I personally am pissed. Its so unbelievably hard to watch games in standard def that I find myself more listening to the game and playing on the computer than actually watching like I would if it were in HD. Please for the love of god, if there is anybody with power out there listening, err, reading this, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET EACH AND EVERY THUNDER GAME BROADCAST IN HIGH DEFINITION NEXT SEASON! [/rant]
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Day off tomorrow, but you can expect some new content as usual on WTLC most likely in the evening sometime before Thunder gameday on Friday in preparation for our last home game of the season.