Good day Thunder Nation!!!
Let’s not waste any time and get right into it.
Dakari Johnson Has Some Explaining to Do
Johnson’s mother is Makini Campbell. She kept Dakari and his younger brother Kamani safe and out of trouble. She did it alone. And she did it in Brooklyn, NY.
A former collegiate player at Long Island Univerisy, Makini stands 6’4” tall. She has done everything in her power to get Dakari where he is today, is totally invested in his career, and what does Dakari do when he learns he is about to start in his first NBA game? He forgot to call his Mom!!!
Youth leagues, practices, AAU, two High Schools, College, D-League.... Makini has been there and she found out her son had finally reached his lifelong goal the same way you and I did, because she happened to check online just before game time. No call, no text, no Tweet, NOTHING from Dakari who found out that morning he was starting for the injured Steven Adams!!!
DUDE!!! It’s your MOM!!!
Makini, to her credit, did like all good basketball Moms do, she encouraged and told Dakari to be vocal and stay ready on defense, but oh man!! Is he ever going to hear about it at the Thanksgiving table... and Christmas.... and next spring... and...
Another Game, Another Meltdown
For 12 minutes, or in the case of Friday’s game in San Antonio, 14 minutes, the Thunder may very well be the best team in the NBA. When Jerami Grant converted a lay-up off a Raymond Felton assist with 10 left in the 2nd quarter, the Thunder stood 23 points ahead of the Spurs. 41 -18.
I don’t care if they are down 2 key players, the Spurs are still sitting 4th in the Western Conference standings. That just doesn’t happen. Not against a Gregg Popovich team and at their house no less.
Then the inevitable happened. The same thing that has happened ever since the NBA started signing big TV deals. The refs swallow their whistle on one end and calling touch fouls on the other in hopes of tightening things up so viewers aren’t watching re-runs of Mike and Molly by halftime.
It’s the way of the world and what Adam Silver and the Oompah-Loompahs at NBA headquarters expect. Money talks and TV ratings are money. FoxSports Oklahoma’s Michael Cage alludes to it (because he would be out of a job if he said it outright) when he says the Thunder just have to play through it, the calls will eventually balance out.
J.A. Sherman and I counted at least 5 obvious no-calls on Thunder drives to the rim in the second quarter alone, but that is not what beat them. What beat them was throwing up their hands, again. What beat them was not moving, passing, and running plays. What beat them was not staying engaged on defense and only converting 66.7% of their free throws (55% in the second half)
Granted, with the help of Silver’s three blind mice, the Spurs lit the nets at a 52.6% clip in the second quarter, but, as Michael Cage has said time and time again, the calls balanced out. Unfortunately the Thunder’s defense didn’t and the Spurs shot 47% the rest of the way.
The Thunder opened the game like a well-oiled machine and converted 54.5% of their first quarter shots and completely shut Pop’s “Perpetual Scoring Machine” down defensively. A few calls don’t go their way and the offense began to stagnate and the shooting drops to 43.5% in the second quarter, then 40.9% in the third, and finally an abysmal 36.4% in the final period. The whistle doesn’t blow their way for a while and suddenly the human snail, Kyle Anderson, who barely got a sniff of the paint in the first quarter, is knocking down lay-ups in Neo Matrix slo-mo the rest of the way.
The Thunder had the Spurs down 23 at the AT&T Center, they had the hottest team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics, down by 18 at the Peake on November 3rd and pissed both those leads away in eerily similar fashion. This team doesn’t need chemistry, they don’t need a new coach. No, what they need is heart. No system on the planet will save you if you don’t have the cojones to fight through a little adversity.
Onward to the Big Easy. Hopefully some spicy Cajun cuisine will grow some hair on some shiny spanked hineys and light a fire under the Thunder’s collective arse.