The Oklahoma City Thunder have completed a thorough thrashing of Fenerbahce Ulker, 111-81. Dion Waiters led all scorers with 19 points, showcasing why he can lead the Thunder's offense when Durant and Westbrook hit the bench. Russell Westbrook was right behind with 16 points of his own. Westbrook was particularly impressive when posting up on the wing, and had a couple of ferocious drives to the basket as well.
Of course, we can't forget about Kevin Durant, who had an impressive live of 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Durant appeared to be in top form, doing the majority of his work from the high post. Another big Thunder performance came out of Andre Roberson. Andre grabbed four steals, which would have been good for a career high in the regular season.
Interior defense and forced turnovers help OKC
It might seem like Fenerbahce is a bad opponent. But Fenerbahce did just beat the Nets this Monday, so they are a capable basketball club. Really, I think this game comes down to two factors that made the Thunder superior: Interior D and forced live turnovers.
The interior D was particularly impressive during the second and fourth quarters. In the second, the Thunder limited Fenerbahce to 30% in the paint. In the fourth, Fenerbahce only attempted 4 shots in the paint total. The impression I got was that coach Donovan wanted to give Fenerbahce the mid-range twos they wanted. Generally Fenerbahce did a good job of finding the open man, but just couldn't hit shots consistently enough to be competitive. Gigi Datome had a particularly hard time converting, going just 2-8 from mid-range.
But really, OKC's ability to steal the ball blew things wide open. During the second quarter, this game was actually kind of competitive. Fenerbahce had the score within four, and the Thunder actually went through about four and a half minutes without a field goal. But OKC was able to end that drought by stealing or blocking the ball on five of six straight possessions. The steals resulted in a 7-0 run that put the Thunder ahead by 11, and they never really looked back.
The third quarter also saw another impressive streak of live ball turnovers. From about the 8 minute mark to the one minute mark, the Thunder went on a 27-8 run. The run was fueled by 3 blocks and 3 steals, and some particularly amazing transition play. Dunks galore for everyone in the arena.
A few things stand out to me about Billy Donovan's minute distribution. The biggest thing is that Dion Waiters isn't seeing much time alongside Durant and Westbrook. There were a few moments in the third where it happened, and it happened once in the first quarter of the Minnesota game as well. But by and large, Waiters has been expected to lead the bench as the primary scorer. And Dion seems to be taking to the role well. Sure, Waiters will still make mistakes. A bad pass to the post here, a shot taken with his foot on the three point line there. But there is improvement. I saw Waiters hit a catch and shoot three today. I saw him navigate the pick and roll, rather than just ISOing it. The jury's still out on Dion for sure, but early returns are excellent.
Enes Kanter seems to be more of a flexible option. Kanter has seen tons of time with both the starters and bench, and I could see him working well with both. Kanter is seen as a huge defensive liability, but I've seen him play with all types of power forwards. Really, I think Donovan is willing to work with Kanter's defensive limitations, but isn't comfortable trusting him with a full starting role. Today, Kanter was solid. I saw a few easy baskets given up in the paint, but Enes was just a reliable as ever near the rim. Interestingly, Kanter has not taken a single shot outside of the paint during this entire preseason.
D.J. Augustin seems to be firmly ahead of Cameron Payne on the depth chart. The two are splitting time during the second and fourth quarters, but Payne was the one who played with the training camp invitees. Payne definitely has potential. Cam hit a really nice floater, a good three around a screen, and had a perimeter steal on a pass. Right now, Payne could definitely be considered a better scorer than Augustin. But Payne's decision making needs work. Cam had 2 turnovers to 2 assists. Comparatively, Augustin had 4 assists and only 1 turnover. Augustin's decision making should see him through this season, but it's hard not to see Payne taking his spot at some point down the line.
- Josh Huestis is all over the map. He saw time with KD and Westbrook, but also the training camp guys. Glad to see him hit a three though.
- Steve Novak didn't play with KD and Westbrook today, but he did see time in the second quarter. I'm still clueless as to what kind of minutes he'll get.
- Anthony Morrow was 2 of 5 today, and missed an open three. With Fenerbahce spacing the floor defensively, it just wasn't a shooter's game.
- Nick Collison did not play due to "rest". In other words, he's old.
- Kyle Singler did not see the floor, but wasn't on the injury report. Curious....
- Talib Zanna, Dez Wells, and Julyan Stone all got time today. Zanna had a nice dunk off of a miss. None of them will make the roster, but it was really nice to see OKC's bench give them encouragement at the end of the game.
- On Fenerbahce's side of things, Jan Vesely looked like his usual self. OKC did a good job of keeping Vesely from the rim generally, but he hit a few shots in the lane. I was impressed with the ability of Sloukas and Kalinic to keep a solid performance under pressure, as they both shot reasonably well and didn't turn the ball over.
- I was a bit disappointed that Bogdan Bogdanovic didn't step up a bit more. He's a nice sharpshooter with some decent lane driving ability.
- Mitch McGary was amazing. His outside shot is still a work in progress, for sure. But Mitch hit a corner three and was amazingly athletic near the rim. He's gotta get some burn this season.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, because of his dunx!
Thunder Down Under: Dion Waiters, who shoots his free throws way to the right
Thunder Blunder: Cameron Payne, who shot 2-6 and had 2 TOs. Not a terrible night at all, but I always give out this award because I'm mean
Thunder Plunderer: Jan Vesely, one of the world's best shooters around the rim
Next Game: Versus the Dallas Mavericks in Tulsa, Monday, October 13th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!