Thunder fall to Nuggets in season finale
With the loss to Denver tonight, the Thunder finish the regular season with a record of 47-35.
It sort of felt like an All-Star game at times, even though Russell Westbrook was the only All-Star on the court. The defensive energy level, especially in the first half, was pretty low. There were several wide open three-pointers for both teams and a lot guys were getting easy dunks. This game had no real impact for the post-season for either team, so there was no reason for OKC to risk an injury before the first round.
OKC rested Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams in the second half, and that’s when the team struggled to score. Most of the rotational players saw limited minutes, and as a result OKC gave all 13 of their active players a good amount of playing time. Jerami Grant threw down a few highlight dunks and finished the night with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist a steal. Enes Kanter also had a pretty good night with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.
The Nuggets rested Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay, Roy Hibbert and Gary Harris. Denver only had seven active players tonight, but Nikola Jokic had a very solid game with 29 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal and 5 blocks. He’s made a great case for most improved player, and really came through tonight for Denver. Jamal Murray finished with 27 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 block.
- The best moment of the night was Oscar Robertson congratulating Russell Westbrook on breaking his single season triple-double record. Robertson gave his full endorsement of Russ being the MVP this season and it’s really cool to see an NBA legend recognize how great Russ has been.
- There’s a chance this might have been the last NBA game for Nick Collison. If it was, I really hope he stays with the Thunder organization in some capacity.
- Alex Abrines knocked down three shots from behind the arc in the first half and broke the Thunder record for made three-pointers by a rookie. James Harden held the record up until this point and played 683 more minutes than Abrines in his rookie year.
- Domantas Sabonis ended his rookie season in the most fitting way possible – he fouled out in 14 minutes.
- A Thunder fan hit a half court shot during half time. It was a pretty awesome moment when took off the Midfirst jersey to reveal his Westbrook jersey.
- Josh Huestis saw 24 minutes. Up until tonight, he was actually leading the league in points per 48 minutes from scoring 7 points in the 7 minutes of playing time he’s seen this season. I’m a big fan of Huestis and I think he has real NBA talent. He clearly has the athletic tools and I think he has a high basketball IQ. He finished the night with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks. Hopefully he won’t be another missed opportunity like Ish Smith or Lance Thomas.
- Only seven players for OKC remain on the roster from last year – three of those guys are Nick Collison, Kyle Singler and Josh Huestis. That leaves only four key rotational players from last year that are still on the team – Westbrook, Adams, Kanter and Andre Roberson. The Thunder have had a pretty massive amount of turnover in their roster and are still comfortably in the playoffs. Despite everything that happened in the off-season, Russell Westbrook and Sam Presti have both been phenomenal at keeping the Thunder franchise relevant in the NBA. That might be the biggest takeaway for the organization this season and I hope Thunder fans can fully appreciate Westbrook and Presti for all they’ve done for the team this year.
- Russell Westbrook is now a two-time NBA scoring champion. He has had an unbelievable regular season and is a very deserving MVP. He would definitely get my vote, for what it’s worth.
Next Up: Game 1 in Houston on Sunday at 8:00 PM CST