There was a lot of talk in the offseason and going into tonight’s game centered around whether or not Thunder fans would be Rockets fans this season. Rooting for Russ to win a title is a common rallying cry in OKC. I think I speak for the majority of OKC fans when I say we want nothing but success for Russ. But as soon as that ball tipped, any thoughts I had that I’d root for a Thunder loss and a Russ-led Rockets win instantly vanished. And I’m Team Tank! This was still my beloved Thunder vs those filthy Rockets. I guess I’m a bad tankmate.
In the end, the Rockets overcame a 15 point Thunder lead behind a huge third quarter, a near triple double from Russ, and 21 made free throws on 22 attempts from James Harden. Ultimately it was probably the best result: another L in the hunt for elite talent at the top of the draft, but entertaining, competitive basketball from the Thunder.
2019-2020 Thunder: 112
2011-2012 Thunder: 116
- Through four games, one thing is clear: the Thunder are much better than people thought. That’s now a close road loss to the title contending Jazz, a close loss to the surprisingly feisty Wiz (this one still counts as a bad loss though), a supposedly playoff bound Warriors whipping, and a close road loss on the second night of a back to back to the title contending Rockets.
- Russ was two assists away from a triple double for most of the fourth quarter, and his teammates kept missing wide open shots he created. Tell me if you’ve heard this story before.
- I just can’t do it. I can’t cheer for the Rockets. James Harden and his free throw nonsense and the way he plays the game are just like nails on a chalkboard to my eyes. Go Russ and all, but nah.
- Just as everyone predicted, the best player in the first half of a game featuring Russ, Harden, Shai, CP3, Adams, Capela and Gallo was… Dennis Schroder.
- My man Michael Cage thought a call should’ve gone against the Thunder?? Okay forget OKC playing Russ, this is by far the most bizarre thing to happen tonight.
- I promised Jon Hamm that I would give him a shout out in my next game recap. So this one’s going out to Jon in Oklahoma City. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.
- The Thunder and 35 point quarters. Name a more iconic duo.
- Until the refs decided to muck it up, Terrance Ferguson, SGA and Hamidou Diallo played some nice defense against James Harden. They didn’t fall for all his crafty moves and jukes, stayed down, remained vertical, and did their best cutting off Harden’s driving lane. Encouraging defensive work from the young Thunder players on maybe the best current scorer in the NBA.
- Shai had his worst game of the season, and he still went for 22-9-4. It’s remarkable that we’re already at the point where he’s making a stat line like that look routine.
- In his “revenge game” against his former squad, Chris Paul put up a quiet 15-5-4. CP3 has been solid but unspectacular (outside his horrid Wizards game) this season. Paul has kind of faded into the background and become a role player, letting the young guys shine. This is truly a team-oriented squad. Nobody, not even Shai, is dominating the ball.
- OKC shot a better FG%, better 3PT%, took more shots, had more rebounds, more assists, more steals, and less turnovers than the Rockets. 99% of the time, that wins a team the ball game. The difference? Shocker: the free throw line. The Thunder made 17 of 24 from the line, and the Rockets made 28 of 33.
- This was supposed to be a stress free season where I actively rooted for OKC losses. So why was I complaining about refs and getting nervous in crunch time?
- Billy Donovan hasn’t used a coach’s challenge yet this season. He would’ve won about 5 or 6 of them in the second half. Billy is a better tankmate than I.