On the eve of Thanksgiving, the Nets looked to win their fourth straight at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. This was Kevin Durant’s second game back after a hamstring injury sidelined him for six games. Anyone could tell the extra dimension Durant gave his team when he was on the floor tonight.
The first half was pretty even. Brooklyn led by 1 after the first quarter, but trailed by 4 at halftime. Brooklyn attempted 13 more shots than Oklahoma City at halftime, but converted one fewer shot. Much of this can be attributed to how clumsy the Thunder came out. Oklahoma had 10 giveaways by the second quarter, while Brooklyn only had 5 turnovers.
Useful Andrea Bargnani showed up tonight, and gave Brooklyn a nice 8-minute stretch in the 2nd quarter, where he scored 11 points. He finished 6-12 shooting with 13 points in a healthy 16 minutes. This could probably be pointed directly with Enes Kanter being in the game. Kanter is well regarded as one of the worse defensive big men in our league today.
Surprisingly, Brooklyn held tough through most of the second half. After starting the 3rd quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 3-point lead, the Nets were outscored 27-17 to finish the 3rd quarter. Brooklyn had 7 turnovers in the 3rd quarter alone, and Oklahoma City were quick to capitalize on these mistakes.
The 4th quarter was very similar to the 3rd. The Nets started the quarter going on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 85 with 8:09 remaining. From this point on, the Thunder kicked it into the turbo gear. Aided with Durant and Dion Waiters treys, the Thunder took on a 11-0 run of their own and the game was essentially over from there.
A large chunk of last season and the few games that Durant missed this year had Russell Westbrook literally trying to will his team to victories. With Durant back in the fold, it’s scary to see how easy it is for the Thunder to kick it to another gear. Check out this sequence here with Durant taking over.
“We played with a sense of urgency. They tied the game up and we didn’t want it to come down to the last minute,” Durant said after the game. “We did a good job of staying focused and staying with it. I just stayed patient with it and I was able to knock some down.”
Durant finished with 30 points, 11-for-18 shooting, 5-for-8 threes, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. Had Durant been inactive this game, it was probably going down the wire. Once Durant got hot in the fourth, it was essentially over.
Food for Thought
- The Hyphen, as Ian Eagle referred to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, double-doubled with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Just a few short years ago, Hollis-Jefferson was attending Kevin Durant’s camp as a participant, and now he was tasked of guarding Durant. Even though Durant burned him, it’s still a good learning experience as Rondae goes through his rookie campaign.
- Brook Lopez finished with his usual boring 26 points, 11-of-23 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. He’s going to put up these kinds of numbers all season, as he’s the only go-to scorer for Brooklyn’s thin roster.
- Shane Larkin got 25 minutes off the bench and delivered with 10 points, 4-of-7 shooting, 2-of-2 from downtown, and 6 assists. He’s been on and off all season, and this isn’t likely to change given his diminutive stature and limitations to adjust.
- Joe Johnson was brutal tonight with 5 points on 2-of-11 shooting with 6 turnovers. Age is catching up to Joe, and as the second highest paid player, he’s definitely in the ‘keep getting them checks’ point of his career.
- Russell Westbrook was his typical 27 points, 10-of-17 shooting, 13 assists, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. He was carving up Brooklyn’s interior defense all night and kicking them out to open perimeter shooters all night.
- As usual, the Nets were outscored by 21 points from the perimeter. Brooklyn finished 3-of-13 while Oklahoma City went 10-of-24.
- The Nets head home for Thanksgiving, and then make the quick trip out to Cleveland to play LeBron James and the Cavaliers at 7:30 EST.