It wasn't pretty, but it was something Thunder fans may have to get used to over these next few injury-riddled weeks. The Brooklyn Nets routed the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder 116-85 Monday night.
The game marked the return of important players for both teams. For the Thunder, Reggie Jackson played in his first game of the season after missing the first three games with a sprained ankle. For the Nets, center Brook Lopez saw his minutes of the year after being held out with a sprained foot.
Jackson was set to bring much needed perimeter scoring to the Thunder with stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook out with injuries. However, Jackson looked out of sync and understandably rusty in his first game, but it simply wouldn't have mattered either way, as the Nets dismantled the Thunder in all facets of the game.
It was apparent from the tip that the Nets were in a groove. They constantly worked the ball around the peimeter and made the Thunder's defense pay for their lack of continuity because of all the injuries.
The Nets knocked down 5-of-7 3-pointers in the first half and Bojan Bogdanovic looked comfortable early knocking down two 3s in the first quarter.
We are all going to point to the Thunder's offensive woes with all the injuries, but the defense is just as concerning.
A big part of being a good defensive team is trust. You have to trust the guy next to you is going to make the correct rotaion, that you have help behind you, everyone is on page of correct pick and roll coverage. Trust isn't built overnight; it can often take years.
The Thunder don't have that trust right now and a crucial part is many of the guys Scott Brooks is packaging into lineups haven't played together much. Only one guy (Serge Ibaka) who started tonight was a consistent starter last season. It is going to be tough to be a good defensive team night in and night out with a lack of continuity. And when teams are clicking offensively on a specific night like the Nets were--you are going to get burned.
The Nets were completely comfortable on offense. Boasting an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 127, they also only committed eight turnovers and tallied 25 assists.
It was good to see Reggie Jackson back on the court, but he really struggled.
Jackson was forcing the issue all night, shooting 8-of-20 from the field and turning the ball over eight times. He scored 23 points, but his struggles went beyond mere shooting woes.
At some point, his teammates may have thought that as well. Multiple people tweeted during the third quarter that it appeared Thunder players were not passing the ball to Jackson on purpose ("freezing" him out).
Looks clear that there is some frustration and friction between Jackson and his teammates right now. They're almost freezing him out.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) November 4, 2014
I did not notice it, but it is something to take note of. While Jackson is the Thunder's best creator with Durant and Westbrook out, he also isn't Durant or Westbrook, and still has to buy in to team system and get everyone involved.
I actually thought backup point guard Sebastian Telfair was more effective in this game. He scored 16 points, had six assists, five rebounds and only three turnovers in over 34 minutes of action.
Injuries remained a theme in this game as well. Andre Roberson injured his ankle and left the game after playing a little over 11 minutes. He is ruled out for the Thunder's game Tuesday against the Raptors.
Perry Jones and Steven Adams also limped at some point during the game, but continued playing and appeared to be fine.
There are going to be a lot of ups and downs throughout this period without the Thunder's two best players. They are going to have tough, impressive wins like they had against Denver over the weekend and then get run off the floor against teams like the Nets did.
However, all you can ask for them is to play hard night in and night out. I think that is one thing we will continue to see from the Thunder. It was late in the fourth quarter and Adams among others was still diving for loose balls. That is what is going to matter late in the season when the Thunder get rolling.
Don't freeze the Thunder out quite yet.