The Oklahoma City Thunder tried their hardest to lose this game. With five minutes left in the game, the Thunder were up by 13 points. Easy peasy, right? Run the clock a little, score on a couple of possessions, make some free throws. Should be common place when you’re up by 13 with 5 minutes to play, right?
But c’mon. When have you known the Thunder to do anything easy? They’re like the high school senior who has a term paper due in two weeks. They don’t do their best work until the night before the paper is due. Like that high school senior, the Thunder don’t seem to play their best until the other team is breathing down their throat.
Well, they did a great job of allowing the Kings to breathe down their throat in the game’s closing moments. In the final five minutes, the Kings scored 24 points. As an aside, the Kings only scored 23 points in both quarters of the first half. DeMarcus Cousins got aggressive and the Thunder, for some reason, got stupid. They allowed a rebound on a free throw that turned into a Rudy Gay three. Then they channeled their inner Ibaka and fouled Cousins on a 3-point attempt. In the end though, the large lead and some timely free throws from Victor Oladipo and Alex Abrines allowed the Thunder to escape with a 4-point victory.
- In all of this, I forgot to mention that Russell Westbrook got another triple-double. That’s 20 on the season. They are becoming so commonplace that they only get mentioned in the notes. I kid, I kid. Westbrook finished with 36 points, 11 boards, and 10 assists, while also shooting 4/5 from deep.
- The Thunder medical staff will have run a little triage unit on their way to Los Angeles. Steven Adams bonked the back of his head in the 3rd quarter and never returned from the locker room. Andre Roberson looked like he got knocked around a little through the course of the game and sat out the last minute. And Victor Oladipo went down a couple of times tonight and came up grabbing his wrist.
- Game ball tonight goes to Enes Kanter, who finished with 29 points and 12 boards. He took it to Cousins on the inside and was good defensively. It’s night like this where I get bipolar on the Kanter issue: On the one hand, why would we trade a guy like this? But on the other hand, another team may look at Kanter as a franchise center and I’m like, “Sure, we’ll take one of your stud young’ins and a first round pick.”
- Andre Roberson struggled with everything on the offensive end tonight. Lay-ups were a battle, the 3-point jumper wasn’t there, and he was only 1-4 from the line.
- Alex Abrines came in and provided a nice little spark from the bench. All his points came either from the 3-point line (3/4 on the evening) or from the free throw line (4/5 from there).
- I’ve always said that Oladipo has a habit of being a one half player. And he was that tonight. But, man, was he good in the first half. He had 17 at the break and was being aggressive to the basket. He finished with 23 points on the night, but his first half set the Thunder up good for their eventual 2nd half swoon.
- Rudy Gay sure was hugging and dapping a lot of Thunder players after the game. The Thunder’s next scheduled game against the Kings isn’t until March, but could we be seeing Gay a lot sooner than that? Hmmmmm…
- DeMarcus Cousins is good, but I just don’t know if you can build a title contender around him. He’s just missing that certain “it” that the great ones have. I don’t know if it’s maturity issues or whether playing ball in Sacramento has broken him, but I would be very leery of trading for that guy.
- 1-0 in the second half of the season.
Next Up: Tomorrow night against the Clippers on the road at 9:30 pm CST.