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Countdown to Camp: 10 best games from 2008-09: No. 9

No. 9: Carmelo breaks the Thunder’s heart a second time [click for game recap]

For a second straight time, Kevin Durant made a shot to put Oklahoma City up and Carmelo responded to take that lead away. This game wasn’t quite as intense as the previous one, but yet it was still a wonderfully played game. Both teams shot over 50 percent. The stars played well for both squads (Durant had 31, Jeff Green 24, Russell Westbrook 20, Melo 32, Nene 20). Both teams turned it over just 28 times total and it wasn’t a game dominated at the free throw line. It just came down to a final possession, and again Denver got the best of the Thunder.

One thing I really remember really sticking out to me was Westbrook’s passiveness on the final possession. I wrote:

But two possessions really stand out in this ballgame like Kevin James with his shirt off. The possession with the pathetic kick call on Russell Westbrook and the last play by OKC.
First, the last play. Everybody knew the ball was going to Kevin Durant. And why shouldn’t it? That’s who I would’ve drawn up the final shot for. But on the inbounds pass to Westbrook, Nene switched on him. So Russell Westbrook, one of the quickest, most explosive guards in the league, has a 6-foot-11, 250 pound monster on him with the lane cleared out. Instead of recognizing this, the young rookie ran the play he was supposed to. The play is designed for KD, so I’m going to pass it to KD. The result? A 40-foot fadeaway heave by Durant that clanked off the rim. I guess we’ll just snap our fingers and say darn because RW is a rookie learning the ropes, but dang. Freaking dang.

You live and hopefully learn. The Thunder had 70 points at the half and led by 11. But the Nuggets chipped away and took the lead in the fourth. A little back and forth ensued and in the end, Denver made the plays to win. It was one of those games where a young Thunder squad clearly just didn’t know how to finish. With another year and more experience, I’m thinking this game doesn’t get away from them this year.