Thunder (16-12, 5-6 road) vs. Pelicans (10-20, 6-9 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 103.1 (19th), Pelicans – 100.6 (27th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.1 (11th), Pelicans – 104.2 (15th)
The saying goes, “A referee should not decide a game.” But the Oklahoma City Thunder have twice been the victim of games in which a call could have shifted the final outcome of said game. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, Nick Young hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 5 seconds left in the game. The only problem with that shot: he took about 5 steps in receiving the ball and getting up the shot. The refs swallowed their whistle and the Thunder went on to lose that game.
Against the Hawks, Russell Westbrook was egregiously fouled two times (maybe even three times) in the Thunder’s final possession of the game. The amount of contact he received on his initial drive was enough to warrant a whistle being blown. But the foul on the 3-point attempt with 2 seconds left was even more evident. Again, the Thunder went on to lose that game by 2 points.
And I know what some of you are saying: “Regardless of the final outcome, the Thunder still had their chances throughout the game.” While that may be true, the other way to look at that is the Thunder put themselves in a position to be close and have a chance at the end. The fact that the referees didn’t do their jobs is not the Thunder’s fault. Everyone on the court is a professional, be it a player or a referee. I understand they have a difficult job, but they are paid top dollars to make the right calls in those situations. And they haven’t been making them. Those ‘Final Two Minute’ reports may give us fans some concession, but it still does not change the Thunder’s win-loss record.
Season Series Recap
This is the second of four meetings between the Thunder and Pelicans this season. The Thunder won the first meeting, 101-92 behind a monster triple-double from Westbrook (28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists). Anthony Davis also did his superstar thing in that game, scoring 37 points to go along with 15 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The Pelicans come into this game with a 10-20 record, having lost 8 of their last 10 games. It still amazes me that a team with a top-10 player can be so inconsistent. For all the flaws the Thunder’s roster has, they still have a lot of good young players surrounding Westbrook. The Pelicans, on the other hand, have done a poor job of surrounding Anthony Davis with a steady supply of talent. In their defense though, a lot of that could be attributed to injuries. The Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson that are playing for the Houston Rockets now are completely different than the players who played for the Pelicans the past 4+ seasons. The main difference being they are actually playing.
Anthony Davis is a monstrous talent. It’s a shame he is mired in the situation he is in, because, if given the opportunity to play on a contender, I think he could live up to the Tim Duncan comparisons he had coming into the NBA. Just about the only players of any worth on the Pelicans, outside of Davis, are Tim Frazier and Jrue Holiday. And unfortunately for the Pelicans, they are both point guards. It’ll be interesting to see what the Pelicans do at the trade deadline with these two players.
- Cameron Payne (foot)
- Victor Oladipo (wrist)
3 Big Things1. Rebounding
One of the major advantages the Thunder have over the Pelicans as a team is rebounding. The Pelicans rank 30th in offensive rebound % and 27th in total rebound %. Conversely, the Thunder are top-10 in every rebounding category. The Thunder should be able to take advantage of this statistic throughout the night.2. Victor Oladipo
This is starting to become worrisome. That is 5 straight game since he decided to go “Weeeeeee!” over Jonas Jerebko’s shoulder. While I am thankful this is not an issue that will necessitate surgery, I do start wondering whether there is a hairline fracture of any sort involved.3. Tim Frazier
Funny story on Frazier: So last season, Frazier was an end of the bench player for the Portland Trailblazers. Portland came to Oklahoma City in December, and the Thunder proceeded to beat the breaks off of them. By the middle the fourth quarter, the Trailblazers were waving the white flag and putting in their ‘end of the benchers’. Now, mind you, while fun, blowouts can also be boring. So, me and my brother in law, decided to pick out an ‘end of the bencher’ from Portland and cheer the hell out of him. That ‘end of the bencher’ ended up being Tim Frazier. So we are hooting and hollering every time Frazier had the ball. We were calling him out by his whole name because Tim by itself isn’t that impressionable and Frazier by itself isn’t either. And, I think, a couple of times, he quizzically looked up in our general direction. By the end of the night, he had a couple points and we kind of adopted him as our player to watch for the rest of the season. Well, lo and behold, he’s kind of become something.