There was some bad strategy and some bad play at times, but all that matters is that we got out of there with the W. And oh, how sweet this win feels. Both teams were down a man, and even though Jeff Green is less essential to the Thunder than Igoudala is to the 76ers, it was still nice to see the Thunder lead the game most of the way.
The first quarter was mostly inside-oriented. It started off with both teams heavily attacking the middle with their guards, and then it evolved into Hawes, Brand, and Ibaka all getting their turn scoring over their opponent. It was like a big man scorefest where nobody wanted to play defense. Eventually, the Thunder started gaining some steam on a Harden three and an awesome Eric Maynor layup.
That steam continued in the second, as after two Philly scores, the Thunder went on a 8-1 run which included four different players. The game continued into a mid-quarter lull, which featured way too many freethrows. The crowd was practically asleep, if they weren't screaming at the refs. Many took early exits.It never really got exciting, but the 76ers did pull to within two before the Thunder pulled back out ahead with more free throws.
Below: The Fourth, Individual Player Analysis, Team Analysis, Awards!
The game finally showed signed of life in the third. 20 Points were scored in the first 4:02, and no free throws were shot. Both teams had shut down the paint and were tired of their previous strategies, so they relied more so on jumpers. After some more back and forth, the Thunder pulled even further ahead with a couple of and one plays by Durant and Westbrook, resulting in a 13 Point lead, the highest of the game. The rest of the quarter had a lot of missed shots, and the Thunder were up by 11 going into the fourth.
The Thunder began the fourth by promptly blowing their lead. With Krstic in the game and Sefolosha playing defacto Power Forward, the Sixers were able to easily slither in the paint and score, cutting the lead to 5. Westbrook made a layup and Krstic scored 4 points, but all they could do was stem the tide. Jodie Meeks decided he wanted to be a part of the game and went on a 10 point splurge in 3 minutes and 47 seconds. The thunder were trying to match, but with the defensive deficiency, the Thunder were essentially trading two possessions for one. With 2:32 to go, the Sixers were only behind one possession, 96-99.
But, the Thunder woke up and saved the day. Westbrook had a killer shot, and the Thunder finally decided to pick up their defensive tenacity in the paint. Another and one from Durant essentially sealed the deal. After some more fouling and free throws, the Thunder had won, 109 to 103.
Statistically, everybody had their ups and downs. Leading the way in ups is Kevin Durant (Thunder Wonder) who had 31 Points, 7 Rebounds, 2 Assists, and 3 Steals. But, he did have his downs, in that he only shot 1 of 5 from three point territory, and he got killed by Andres Nocioni at least on four occasions. You see, Kevin Durant would miss something offensively, and then Nocioni would cherry pick and beat Durant down the floor for an easy score. It wasn't a game killer, but 8 Points is 8 Points. Russell Westbrook also scored 31 Points, along with getting 12 Assists and 1 Steal. Unfortunately, he also had 7 Turnovers.
Thabo Sefolosha continued to fill the stat sheet and scored 10 Points. Ibaka (Thunder Down Under) had 12 Points, 7 Rebounds, and 4 Blocks. Nenad Krstic (Thunder Blunder) had 8 Points, 4 Rebounds, 1 Block, and a whole lot of bad defense. Harden scored 9 but missed two threes late in the game, Maynor had 3 nice looking layups, Aldrich turned the ball over and fouled a lot, and Daequan Cook managed to score on freethrows, but also managed to miss another three.
When it's all said and done, we're really missing Collison and Green. Ibaka and Krstic is a decent front line, but we really didn't have anyone else to help us out in the post. Durant was too short and offensively oriented. Aldrich was borderline useless. And White and Mullens have yet to see minutes. We can beat the Trailblazers without and inside presence, but having some depth there would definitely give us a leg up on them.
As for the Sixers, you might say they have a long road ahead of them, but this season isn't over just yet. It's not the NFL, where teams are done after 4 or 5 losses. Igoudala should be back for the next game, so they should continue to be competitive with about 85% of the league's teams. And they're in the East, so anything is possible playoff-wise. But I don't think anyone should be worried about this team going anywhere beyond a first round knockout. After all, they're the same old 76ers.
Oh, and Jodie Meeks gets the Thunder Plunderer Award for his 10 Point Splurge. The Sixers had three other players score over 15.
Next Game: Versus the Trailblazers, Friday, November 12th, 8:30 PM Central Standard Time.