It was close for a while, but, in the end, the Thunder closed this one like they should. At first glance, it's not clear how much control the Thunder had over this game. The Pacers were missing shots left an right all game, and they played very little defense. Whenever they made a run, it was mostly due to silly things for the thunder offensively, like missed threes, bad passes, bad turnovers, and missed freethrows. Nevertheless, one really can't call this game a bad performance, per se. We still shot the ball responsibly, had great bench production, and Jeff Green was the only real big failure of the night. When push came to shove, and the Thunder were only up by 1 with 5 minutes to go, KD hit a huge three, and the Pacers didn't score for the next two minutes. they got it within two again, but KD immediately responded with a jumper, and the game was all over. Another successful day at work.
Below: Analysis, Awards
The most surprising thing about this game has to be the performance of Earl Watson. He outdid Russell Westbrook, and he was a real team player out there. He initiated ball movement, and actually hit some of his jumpers, something he wasn't fond of doing in Oklahoma City. Granted, Russell Westbrook had more rebounds and was a better scorer, but he also had 5 turnovers and fouled out. Not a bad game by any means,m but worse than Watson's in my book. And Thus, Earl claims the Thunder Plunderer award.
As far as the rest of the Pacers, Troy Murphy scored 8 in a row in the fourth quarter, making for 15 Points and 15 Rebounds, and Danny Granger bricked shots left and right, leaving him with 25 Points, 6 Rebounds, and 4 Steals. AJ Price also did spectacularly off of the bench. Not because he was a good point guard, but simply because he found ways to score.
On the Thunder side of things, there's one clear Thunder Wonder, and that's Kevin Durant. He had an amazing game, with 40 Points and 12 Rebounds, not to mention putting the team on his back and carrying the team into victory late in the game. The Thunder Down Under Award goes to two guys who did their job off of the bench, Nick Collison and James Harden. James Harden scored well, having 13 Points with 3-4 3 Points Shooting, 2 Rebounds, and 3 Assists in 26 minutes. He still charges at the basket too much, but this was a solid performance nonetheless. Nick Collison had 8 Points, 7 Rebounds, and 3 Blocks in 23 Minutes, and did a good job of limiting Roy Hibbert.
Most would expect Green or Sefolosha to get reprimanded here for their poor offensive performances, but not this time. They both did a great job of locking down their respective players, with Sefolosha on Head and rush, and Green on Granger and Dunleavy. I'd really like to see them not hurt as much on the offensive end, but given their complete shut down of these players and the fact that the Thunder won by a good margin, no one can incriminate them for tonight's performance. In fact, nobody had a Thunder blunder worthy performance, so I'm just going to leave the award unused for tonight. Excellent job, guys, it's the first time ever!
Also of note was the debut of B.J. Mullens. It was nice to see him for once, but he didn't have a huge effect one way or the other. 4 Points, 2-2 Shooting, 3 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Turnovers, and 2 Fouls. Kind of a meh performance, but he's definitely someone to keep tabs on moving forward.
Next Game: Versus the Knicks, Monday, January 11th, 7 PM Central Standard Time
I'm feeling pretty confident about that matchup. Heh. Heh.