Serge Ibaka scored a career-high 25 points as Oklahoma City defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-94. If I had to guess, I would say Ibaka likes the new white-navy alternate jerseys. Not only did he garner his career high in points, but he also managed to do it extremely efficiently shooting 9-13 from the field.
This game definitely had the feel of a second night of a back-to-back. After a solid defensive first half, the Thunder got complacent in the second half and failed to put the young Pistons team away when they had the chance. But this just in: OKC is really good, so it didn’t come back to haunt them.
I remember not too long ago when Oklahoma City was in a similar position as Detroit is in now. The Pistons have some talented young players, but they can’t seem to put it all together to win in this league (they are still winless this season). Detroit showed signs of being a really good team, like their run late in the third quarter to tighten the game. But, Oklahoma City is just not the kind of team that loses these games. When the Thunder needed to step on the gas, players stepped up and closed the door.
Eric Maynor had his second straight great game. Maynor had 13 points, three assists and zero turnovers in just 17 and 1/2 minutes of game action. It seems like Maynor is improving each and every game, which is very promising for our bench production this season.
The Thunder were out rebounded by the Pistons tonight. That normally would be pretty alraming because the Pistons have not been a great rebounding team so far this season. However, with Thabeet out tonight with an ankle injury, Brooks played extended stretches with his small lineup. This may have attributed to the below-average rebound performance by OKC. Plus, based on my expert analysis, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are pretty tall.
Westbrook is still trying to find his groove. A lot of his shots at the rim are not falling like they did for him last season. Usually that is what gets him in a rhythm. I am not too worried about Westbrook at this point. He will get it figured out. But it is not like he cares what any of us think because he is the Honey Badger.
Keys to the Game
Bench Play: B
As I mentioned, Maynor had another great game. Kevin Martin came in a scored 16 points but he wasn’t his normal efficient self. He shot 5-14 from the field and 2-9 from 3PT range. Overall, I think the bench did its job tonight by maintaining and even extending the lead while the starters rested.
This will likely be a theme all season long. 16 turnovers tonight isn’t the worst, but that number needs to be lower. I am, however, encouraged by the type of turnovers they tend to be. Players are being aggressive and trying to make the right pass. The more reps they get, the less those will result in turnovers.
End quarters strong: B-
With the exception of the third quarter, OKC did a good job closing quarters with strong defense.
Thoughts on the game:
- I’m still trying to form my opinion on the new alternate uniforms. My first reaction was meh, but I liked how they looked on the court tonight. Although, they look similar to the jerseys I wore in high school. Verdict is still out, but prospects are promising.
- Perkins had six assists tonight. That is pretty impressive. This was nice bounce-back game for Perkins who played horribly against the Bulls Thursday night.
- Several of Perk’s assist were passes from the high post to Serge in the low post. I am very thrilled to see that! If those two can form a little bit of offensive chemistry inside, that will really open up things for Durant, Westbrook and Martin on the perimeter.
- Perk also took Greg Monroe to the hoop from the three-point line and scored. It was interesting/awesome.
- My wife looked at the box score on my phone and saw that the Pistons have a guy on their team listed in the box score as “K. Middleton” – she wanted me to point that out for any female ThunderObsessed fans out there.
- I know Brooks has said that Maynor is not on any type of minute restriction, but I seem to think that is not entirely true. For as well has he has played the last few games, I would think he would be getting more playing time. Remember, it hasn’t even been 12 months since the injury. I bet the Thunder are being extra cautious with Maynor to start the season. I bet he sees his minutes increase as the season progresses
- After starting out the season shooting poorly, Serge has really turned it on the last few games. Serge only averaged 9.5 points last season. I think it is very plausible for him to average 12-15 points per game this season. If he can do that, the 4-year $48 million dollar extension may be heck of a bargain.
- Durant quietly scored a game-high 25 points in this contest. I like Kevin being unselfish and a playmaker, but I also am starting to miss him dropping 40. What do you say, KD? Drop 40 on the Cavs Sunday for old times sake?
- Speaking of KD, did it seem like he was getting really frustrated with the refs tonight? It looked like he was letting it affect his game. He needs to not let that stuff get to him and just play basketball.
- This makes three straight wins for the Thunder. To be honest, they really haven’y played all that well in any of the wins. Looking at the schedule over the next two weeks, OKC could run off eight or ten in a row if they continue to gel as a team. The turnovers have to get better, but I think they are starting to get comfortable with the post-beard rotation.
Next Up: Cavaliers at the ‘Peake – Sunday @ 6pm