I’m hijacking the Views from Grenham today because he’d rather watch Big East Tournament action rather than see an underperforming Thunder squad take on a 19 win lottery team. I mean, you call yourself a Thunder fan, Grenham? Jeez.
Anyway, we got a brief ray of sunshine following OKC’s dispiriting display over the previous two losses against the Trail Blazers and Rockets. Reality check - yes, the Suns are bad, and yes, there was no excuse for the last game vs the Suns being as close as it was. But what we can take away from this one is that OKC finally did the thing that they need to do, to be the thing they need to be.
Here’s the thing. It was a 28 point win, but it wasn’t because the Thunder offense was flying. They shot 53% from the floor and near 40% from three, but that’s not why they won. I wouldn’t even say their offense played all that well; it was kind of a mess through various stretches. In fact, through 24 minutes they were shooting 46% from the floor, 5-16 from three, had committed 11 turnovers, and Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were shooting a combined 5-14.
But OKC’s defense, the defense that has been a disaster since Andre Roberson got hurt, and was shredded by these same Suns a week ago, finally put their big boy pants on and actually tried to defend the perimeter. And when they do, the difference is staggering. Phoenix shot 28% from the floor in the 1st half, 4-20 from three, and were held to 38 points. Devin Booker, who had 39 the last time out, was being held to 15 on 5-11 shooting. Everything was different, simply because OKC’s defense tried to make every shot uncomfortable for Booker and the rest. The result was, even for wide open shots, the Suns misfired often and by mid-3rd, the game was in the bag.
And to Kid Booker’s credit, he did finish with 30, and he worked to get it. But again, he worked to get it. And that was all the difference.
1. Corey Brewer
Much was made about how Brewer was moved into the starting lineup ahead of Josh Huestis, only 3 games into his Thunder career. Maybe Corey isn’t the long-term solution, or even the solution for next week, but his energy was infectious and played a big part in OKC’s defense waking up early after falling behind in the 1st.
Yes, Brewer plays like an over-caffeinated greyhound. And yes he does resemble that 58 year old retired Army vet who is still in ridiculous shape because he runs marathons but has lost a bit of his hand-eye coordination and dexterity. And yes, he’s probably wearing his old gray sweatpants when he’s schooling 25 year olds at the YMCA (“Hey! That’s my job!” - Fats).
2. Steven Adams’ noggin
A scary moment occurred late in the 3rd when Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson inadvertently collided:
OKC Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson went down after getting hit in the head... He was able to walk off the court pic.twitter.com/GQdaWsmCLA— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) March 9, 2018
You can see that Ferguson looks like he was knocked out on his feet, and Adams immediately knew something was wrong (Adams was apparently unfazed). Ferguson walked off the court, but according to various sources, he has been admitted to the NBA concussion protocol.
3. Hair Jordan
You know what is one of the unequivocal joys about watching your team blow out other teams? It’s the celebratory moments where the seldom-used players do something cool and the rest of the bench erupts in sheer ecstasy. It is pure, unadulterated joy. And it happened twice.
Nobody loved that Nick Collison bucket more than Steven Adams pic.twitter.com/eI3yW6tqai— Jon Hamm (@JonMHamm) March 9, 2018
A look ahead
The Thunder take on the San Antonio Spurs in what will be a crucial matchup Saturday night. The Thunder are virtually tied with San Antonio in the standings, and a win could shift OKC back into the middle of the pack.
At some point we’re going to need to have a conversation about this shirt.