As the preseason tipped off, the Oklahoma City Thunder did so without their All-Star point guard, Russell Westbrook. They really missed him. However, Kevin Durant continued from where he left off last season, dropping 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting. It helped Oklahoma City grab their first win of the preseason with the 95-82 over Fenerbahce.
It wasn’t all smiles and sunshine for the Oklahoma City Thunder to start the game. While they grabbed the early 2-0 lead off a Serge Ibaka 19-foot jump shoot, Fenerbahce (FBU) really were efficient in ball movement, and hit three of their first four three-point attempts. Two of those were back-to-back daggers from Bo McCalebb as FBU grabbed the early 20-10 lead with 5:10 remaining in the first quarter.
Oklahoma City struggled throughout the game from behind the arc. While they were one of the league’s best three-point shooting teams last season, they seemed rusty today. They were just 2-of-14 from deep today. Thabo Sefolosha, a usually efficient three-point shooter, was 0-of-3 today. Durant and Jeremy Lamb had the only two makes, combining to go 2-of-7.
After FBU grabbed the 37-28 lead with 7:19 remaining, something lit a fire under the Thunder. They closed the first half on a 20-5 run. Then they came out in the second half, pushed the run out to 30-13 run before FBU finally made a chance to make it a game once again.
FBU fought back, cutting the Thunder lead to 63-61 with 5:04 remaining in the third quarter. Sound defense, combined with Thabo Sefolosha’s streaky shooting, Oklahoma City was able to pull away from FBU to end the third quarter, reaching their highest lead at that point of 75-65.
Kendrick Perkins was lack luster for his opener, but it ended in bad spirits as he dislocated his ring finger in the second quarter. He left the game immediately on a time out, wouldn’t return. In his absence, Steven Adams played really well in different spurts. He scored seven points, six rebounds and unfortunately, five fouls in just 15 minutes of action. He played soundly on the defensive ball at times. He just held his position a little longer than you’d like to see a player do so.
Oklahoma City pushed the out to as many as 16 in the game when they led 93-77 with 2:21 remaining in this game. The reserves did a really good job for the Thunder to hold off FBU in this one.
What to Watch for
It was nice to see Lamb play okay. He was 4-of-9 shooting from the floor, finishing with nine points. He also finished with a game high of +18 on the plus/minus. His defense wasn’t too bad. I think we’re going to see him have major growing pains on both sides of the ball, but I think we’ll also see major improvements either. It’s going to be a love hate season for Lamb.
Oklahoma City’s bench scored 38 points on 15-of-30 shooting. The three-point shooting was very bad, but other than that, they played particularly well. Led by Lamb and Adams, they shot the ball well, played defense. It’s something you want to see from your bench, especially in the first preseason game.
Could he have played ANY better? I guess. Maybe he could have hit every shot. I doubt it through. Dude was fantastic. He rocked it, capped by that monstrous dunk in the third quarter. When Oklahoma City was struggling early in the game, Durant put this team on his back and led them to the promise land. I bet we see a lot more of that this season.