Can we hire Scott Brooks before every game?
Now that’s the way to take some positive feelings into the summer. The Thunder absolutely embarrassed the Clippers Wednesday night in the season finale by a season-high 41 points, 126-85, and did it with a certain flash and flair.
It was a high-flying, high-intensity all-out assault that was as much fun to watch as any game this season. I seriously think the Thunder may have had something like 40 dunks (actually it was 14). They were coming from everywhere. Shaun Livingston’s awesome oop from Earl Watson. D.J. White’s two-hand destruction barreling down the lane. Russell Westbrook’s double-clutch lob in the third that he followed with a soaring flush that he capped with a little airplane strut. Jeff Green’s aggressive follow-up flush. And on and on and on. Those were just the best ones. I’ve got a post all ready to go for Thursday with the top 10 Thunder moments of the season, but I may have to revise and just post the game film from this game.
I really expected the team to come out with great effort as a way to show unwavering support of Scott Brooks. Boy, they sure did. Backing your leader with a 41-point destruction is a pretty good statement. And it’s good momentum to carry into the offseason. Now the team goes into the next couple months with a direction, a purpose and the feeling that something good is happening.
But man, the Clippers. I’ve read Bill Simmons’ rants about this group, but geez. That was such a poor effort. It’s really hard to describe it unless you watched it. Now a lot of it had to do with the Thunder’s excellent focus, intensity and execution, but a lot of it also had to with the Clippers lack thereof. I had to check and see if P.J. Carlesimo was coaching them. I suppose Mike Dunleavy is in the same ballpark. If the Thunder were sticking up for Coach Scotty, I think the Clips were doing the opposite for their guy.
It was actually a little eye-opening to watch. We’ve watched OKC get walloped by 30 before, but never with that poor of an effort. I’ve been frustrated sometimes with OKC’s effort and intensity, but it’s never looked that bad. The Clippers were literally were standing and watching the Thunder fly by and rise for uncontested dunks. For a second I thought I was watching the Rookie/Sophomore game or pre-game warmups. Brian Davis put it pretty well: “This is sad. This is just sad.” And in a way, I felt sorry for the Clips. Especially a guy like Eric Gordon who has ridiculous talent that’s trapped in that mess.
- Nick Collison is maybe the most boring dunker on the planet. He goes straight up and just puts the ball in. It’s kind of a perfect summation of his game – no flash, no pizzazz, just getting the job done. He grabs the back of the rim so there’s no give and he never “rocks” it if you know what I mean. It obviously doesn’t matter because it all counts for the same amount, but I’ve been waiting all year to say that.
- Shaun Livingston played his first game back in the Staples Center since his horrific injury. And he played like he had something to prove. He got his first start and played extremely well – six points, seven rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes. And a hair-raising dunk to go with it.
- D.J. White everybody! He had 15 and 11 off the bench in 24 minutes and looked great doing it. He has a great little 12-foot jumpshot and can get inside and score. But the best part was the way he hit the glass hard and even blocked three shots. Remember, he’s only played a handful of games and now he’ll have a summer to work and improve and I think next year he could be a major part in this team’s success.
- That first half was awesome. OKC scored 60 points, shot 53 percent, outrebound LA by 10, had 25 dunks and just turned it over three times. And the second half was just as good with 66 points. The Thunder shot 54 percent for the game, outrebounded the Clips 49-32 and had 17 steals. Yeah, good game.
- Westbrook can shoot a high percentage when he’s dunking it all the time. But seriously, great closing game by Russ. He had 14 points, seven assists, five boards and just two turns. He brought wonderful energy early crashing the boards and flying all over the defensive end. He also played in all 82 games this season, the only Thunder-er to do so.
- Nice to KD return to KD-like form. 26 points (8-15, 2-3 from three), nine boards, three assists and four boards. And Jeff Green was back to form with 19 points and five rebounds. Though he did have two awful airballs. Forgiven.
- The Thunder bench was excellent tonight. Absolutely excellent. There was no relapse to the Nets or Wizards game where OKC blew a big lead and let a blowout get close. The Thunder had a monster lead and closed with a bigger one. Of course it helped they were playing five dead bodies, but still. Earl Watson had 14 points and 14 assists. D.J. with the 15 and 11. Nick Collison with 17 and six. Damien Wilkins even played productive minutes.
- Speaking of the bench, how about their assist on KD’s follow-up dunk off Earl Watson’s free throw miss. Desmond Mason and Malik Rose were jawing with Marcus Camby and Camby was totally distracted and uninterested letting Durant go by untouched for the follow slam. Kind of a perfect summary of the Los Angeles Clippers right there.
- I think we know who won the offensive efficiency war. 126 > 85. This was OKC’s most lopsided win of the season and the most points they’ve scored.
- While there’s a lot negative about the Clips, I really like Steve Novak. He’s a free agent this year and for the right price, I’d love to bring him aboard. He’s tall (6’7) and he’s a lethal outside shooter. He can get his shot off anytime and could bring a great bench shooter to the Thunder. He wouldn’t require big minutes but could be a deadly scorer off the bench.
- The Thunder avoided 60 losses and improved by three wins this year. And you know the best part about tonight? Memphis also won, so by OKC demolishing the Clippers and feeling great about themselves they didn’t lose any ping-pong balls. Win-win!
So as we put a lid on this inaugural season, I feel it necessary to say thanks. Seriously thanks Thunder for an incredibly fun season. Thanks to Mick Cornett for never giving up on the pro basketball dream. Thanks to Clay Bennett for making it happen. Thanks to Kevin Durant for representing our team and state so incredibly well. Really, thanks to each and every player for being here. Yes, even you Robert Swift. Thanks to Sam Presti for putting a roster we can be proud of and one that gives us hope. Thanks to Brian Davis and Grant Long for calling all 82 games with the same passion, optimism and enthusiam no matter if OKC was up 30 or down 30. While they have their drawbacks, they do their best and bring energy every night and that is much appreciated. Thanks to Matt Pinto for flying solo all year but still giving a solid radio call. Thanks to everybody that comes here to read and talk Thunder. Thanks, thanks, thanks to everybody. I can’t wait to do it again next year.