So much for turning a new leaf. Even with the return of Reggie Jackson, the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder were no match for the Brooklyn Nets Monday night as they got blown out, 116-85
It was back to the problems that plagued the KD/Westbrook-less Thunder in the first two games of the season. The shooting was ugly, the defense was uglier, and the Nets basically had their way with the Thunder B-team.
Even worse, Jackson's return meant, of course, another Thunder player had to get hurt to keep the injury list full. Andre Roberson went down hard in the first quarter after getting fouled on a layup opportunity and did not return. The official team report is a foot strain, but he will be reevaluated tomorrow. The injury left the Thunder with just eight guys once again, including Jackson and Sebastian Telfair as the only two guards.
The team showed brief flashes of brilliance on occasion, but not nearly enough to make the game even remotely competitive. Fortunately for the Thunder, it's a quick turnaround with a game in Toronto tomorrow night.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
At first it was all, "Cool, Reggie is back." But by the second quarter it was back to, "Oh shoot, this is going to be a long couple months." Look, the Thunder is doing all they can, and if they do everything exactly right, they can hang in with other teams. But when shots aren't falling, and the defense is just a step too slow, those mistakes get magnified and it's really tough to overcome.
Now, for what it's worth, Jackson did look mostly healthy and had some genuinely promising drives to the hoop. He still finished just 7-19 shooting and a team-worst -28, though. Whether or not it was rust or something more, as someone looking to prove he should be a starter in this league, he has a lot more to show.
Jackson aside, it was the usual cast of bench-warmers filling in as best they could. Kendrick Perkins came back down to earth, Telfair continued his relentless quest to jack up more 3-point bricks than anyone in the league, and no one really stood out.
One exception is Serge Ibaka, who looks to have added even more weapons to his growing arsenal. He hit another 3-pointer, and the confidence with which he is shooting is something that will hopefully carry over once the team gets back to full strength. He's far and away the team's best player right now, and his energy on both sides of the ball is one reason for optimism. Hopefully it will be enough to hold them over.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder lost?
They're just undermanned. It's so weird to be back at a point with the Thunder where we have to say things like "they just weren't good enough," but here we are. There is still no real identity to the offense, with a lot of just running around and trying to create something out of nothing. That's really hard to do when you don't have superstars running the show.
Numbers-wise, they got crushed in just about every facet. 39 percent shooting compared to 52 percent for Brooklyn. 35 percent to 48 percent in 3-point percentage. 14 assists to 25 assists. And 17 turnovers to just 8 for the Nets.
The Denver win was all about effort and execution. I wouldn't go so far as to say there was a lack of effort, but there were certainly less sense of urgency than there was on Saturday. As for execution? Well, this may just be how it goes with a rotating cast of guys for the next month.
Bad loss, even worse that they may be down yet another player in Roberson.
Thunder Wonder: Serge Ibaka: 15 points on 7-11 shooting, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks
Thunder Down Under: Sebastian Telfair: still shot too many 3s, but was 5-10 for 16 points, 6 assists and 5 boards and seemed genuinely more in control of the offense than Jackson at most times.
Thunder Blunder: Lance Thomas: 2 points on 1-10 shooting
Thunder Plunderer: Alan Anderson: 18 points on 7-8 shooting (4-4 3pt shooting)
Next game: Tomorrow, 11/4/14 @ Toronto Raptors, 6:30PM CDT