4 min read

Resting Thunder keep it close in Portland, 120-115


To the notes.


  • If you missed it, the Thunder rested Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson.
  • Hey, the Thunder actually kind of had a chance to win this one late. They got it to eight with about 90 seconds left, and Anthony Morrow had a clean look that could’ve made it five. For a lot of the game, the Blazers had their way and were coasting. But a strong push early in the fourth kept them in it, and with an Enes Kanter barrage, they trimmed it to single digits with a few minutes left. It was almost the perfect result (except for the, you know, winning part): They play reasonably well, have a chance, and a lot of the bench guys do positive things. Starting with…
  • Enes Kanter. The first 30-20 in Thunder history. And he did it in just 36 minutes. In total, 33 (13-18 shooting) points and 20 rebounds.
  • Kanter put together a full game in his first half with 17 and 10 in 18 minutes. Thing was, he had a whole other half to go. And for whatever reason, he didn’t start the second half. Seemed like Billy Donovan was maybe going to rest him too, but with the game getting completely out of hand, came back to him.
  • So allow me to heat up a take. Put Kanter on a bad team and he probably has this type of game fairly routinely. Not 30-20s, per se, but monster games of like 28 and 15 or something. Heck, he’s regularly putting up 18 and 12 in 22 minutes for OKC. We all know the perception of Kanter around the league, because narratives are hard to break, but what’s the common line of thinking if he’s in Phoenix averaging 24 and 12? Is he — you may want to sit down for this — all that different than DeMarcus Cousins? Cousins is a stat monster, and clearly a phenomenal player. But he’s the best player on a losing, bad team. The focus on Kanter’s flaws are there because he’s on a good team, plays on national TV a lot, and doesn’t have a cult following. Ask yourself: All things considered (character, ability, mental makeup), who do you take? Kanter or Cousins?
  • I already know how that point is going to be received. Cousins does a lot of things better than Kanter. He’s a better passer and defender. But the point remains. Is it really so crazy?
  • There have been four other 30-20 games this season: Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond. Now Kanter. The minutes in those other four: 43, 39, 45 and 54. Again, Kanter played 36.
  • One more thing: This game is a good example of something I’ve been saying when people talk about players on bad to very bad teams putting up numbers versus players on good to very good teams putting up less good numbers. Someone has to score the points. Someone has to get the rebounds. Someone has to get the assists. An NBA team is going to score at least 85-ish points. On a lot of nights, it’s going to be close to 100. Somebody on the roster has to fill the statsheet up to get there. Tonight, it was Kanter and Dion Waiters (25 points) and Anthony Morrow (19 points). So when you look around and see, say Ish Smith putting up stats in Philly, or D.J. Augustin in Denver, or whoever, stop and think about that.
  • Waiters did play a nice game. His 25 were efficiently done (10-19 shooting), and he mixed a good combination of attacking in with his jumpshooting. He was forced into a lot of ball-handling duties, and turned it over seven times to just one assist. That was the bad part.
  • Allen Crabbe is a weird looking dude.
  • Donovan’s starting five was Randy Foye, Dion Waiters, Anthony Morrow, Enes Kanter and Steven Adams. You’ll notice one name missing that would’ve been expected. Cameron Payne didn’t start at point guard. Randy Foye did.
  • I do not understand this. Well, I think I understand the logic. Payne is out of the playoff rotation, so in terms of prepping for the postseason, letting Foye run point guard is good practice for the games ahead. Sure. Okay. But Payne should’ve started. Let Foye run point guard in the second unit, which is, you know, what he would be doing.
  • I’m just saying, I’ve been telling people all year long that Josh Huestis looks decent. His mechanics are good, his athleticism is there and he’s obviously intelligent. I couldn’t ever get over it. Experience is an understandable missing thing, but there’s only one way to get that.
  • Huestis was active, hitting 2-2 from 3, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. He’s now 4-4 from 3 this season (100 percent). Kyle Singler is 25-91 (27 percent). Huestis had six rebounds in 21 minutes. Singler had four fouls in 14. Oh, and Singler hasn’t had six rebounds in any game this season.
  • Brian Davis Line of the Night: “To Singler and he scoresssssssssss…. except he does not.”
  • It’s probably too late to really give Huestis a realistic shot at cracking the rotation and taking Singler’s minutes. But it does make next training camp interesting. Even though Huestis is really more of a natural 3/4, I get a Danny Green vibe from him. Even down to the career path. Green, if you recall, was a second round guy that eventually got cut by the Cavs and spent time in the D-League before finally making it with the Spurs.
  • Payne certainly showed signs of rust and a lack of rhythm. He missed some shots, got caught in bad spots and didn’t run the offense especially well. But he still flashed plenty of his ability, with his feel, vision and playmaking remaining impressive.
  • Nick Collison came in and dished out four assists in nine minutes. Guy is a treasure.
  • Damian Lillard was weirdly nonexistent. Just 11 points on 2-13 shooting in 37 minutes.
  • It almost seems like a lock the Thunder will miss the Blazers in the opening round. Shame. Would’ve been a fun series. A potentially dangerous one, even though I think OKC would’ve averaged 120+ and got by in five, but a fun one.

Next up: At the Kings on Friday