The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the teams it should (a romp over the Philadelphia 76ers, and a nail-biter over the Dallas Mavericks), but lost to the Houston Rockets for the third time this year in blowout fashion.
SIX THINGS FROM THE WEEK
Behind the Back Dish. While not as amazing as his nutmeg pass last week, this behind the back assist to Andre Roberson is still pretty darn sweet.
This pass was pretty good, too.
Mr. Thunder. After being a cornerstone for years with the Thunder, Collison has fallen completely out of the rotation for the first time in his career. After appearing in a career low 59 games last year, Collison has registered [57 prior to Mavs] DNP-CDs this season. Collison, however, made a memorable appearance against the 76ers. After getting a standing ovation as he checked in, Collison tied a season-high in points (7), a season high in rebounds (5), and added two assists and a block in just eight minutes of action. I guarantee that Collison will be the first Thunder player to have his jersey hang from the rafters at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
You jumped sides on me, now you ’bout to meet Westbrook. This past week, Kendrick Lamar released a brand new single, The Heart Part IV. In it, K-Dot (I totally knew this already), drops Westbrook’s name and takes an apparent shot at Kevin Durant. Maybe I’m reading far more into this than I should, but one of the biggest rappers in the world giving some major cred to Westbrook speaks volumes about how Westbrook’s decision to stay versus Durant’s decision to flee is perceived by the populace.
Tables turned, lesson learned, my best look
You jumped sides on me, now you ’bout to meet Westbrook
Go celebrate with your team and let victory vouch you
Just know, the next game played I might slap the s— out you
Rocket-rocked. In a showdown of the top two MVP candidates in Houston, the Rockets literally exploded (get it?) en route to a 137-125 victory over the Thunder. In the first half alone, Houston scored 79 points, the second highest point total in a half this season (two other teams have scored 81). Thunder fans held hope, recalling that glorious night back January 2014, when Houston scored 73 points in the first half but put up just 19 in the second. But as the lead stretched in the second half, it was clear there would be no second-half comeback for the Thunder. It was an epic shooting night for the Rockets, as they shot 63% from the field and 51% from three. Westbrook chalked up Houston’s hot shooting to a case of “they just got hot,” but there was more truth than fiction to that theory. The Rockets shot 70% when defended “very tight,” and 77% (OMG!) when defended “tight.”
The Homestretch. Just 9 games remain in this season of Westbrook, and the Thunder are virtually guaranteed to make the playoffs. They have a realistic shot at a seed as high as 4, but could fall as low as 7. Westbrook also needs 5 triple doubles to set a new record for most in a season, and is just 52 rebounds and 62 assists shy of averaging a triple double for the year. So, yeah, this should be an exciting finish.
AND ONE MORE MAKES SEVEN
How about this for an MVP moment. Down 13 with three minutes to go, in a game that the Thunder had no business winning, Westbrook scores 12 of the Thunder’s final 14 points, and forces a pivotal turnover by the Mavericks, to steal a road win. In case you missed it, here is Westbrook’s game-winning bucket.