If P. J. Carlesimo can continue to coax performances like this out of Brooklyn, he can count on losing that “interim” qualifier: Dem Nets pounded the living crap out of the Oklahoma City Thunder, coached by Scott Brooks, who replaced, um, P. J. Carlesimo way back when. We’re talking a 14-point lead after the first quarter, which grew to 23 in the second. One does not do this to OKC, and not quite halfway through the fourth frame, the Thunder had evened it up, 85-85. The final, however, was 110-93, which answers Billy Preston’s eternal question: “Will it go round in circles?” Yep. The same defensive lapses that gave the Nets the early lead gave the Nets the late lead. The only thing less likely would be, oh, Kevin Durant getting broomed. Which he did.
Then again, it wasn’t just KD’s manifest frustration. The Nets managed to earn twenty-one free throws in that fourth quarter, and hit all but one. Worse, the Nets shot better from beyond the arc (53 percent) than within it (49). Joe Johnson rattled down 33 points, with Brook Lopez adding 25 and Deron Williams 19. D-Will also had 13 assists. Reggie Evans, who wasn’t on hand for the OKC win in Brooklyn in December, wasn’t a factor tonight, with Kris Humphries and Andray Blatche taking up the slack. (Your Telltale Statistic for the night: only one Net was a net minus, rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who played less than ten minutes. For OKC, only one player was a plus: Hasheem Thabeet, who played less than ten minutes.)
There was some carping about Kendrick Perkins, who wasn’t an offensive force at all, but who did clear 11 boards, about a third of the Thunder’s total. And Russell Westbrook was just this side of sparkling: 26 points on 11-19 shooting, 10 dimes. And Durant had twenty-seven before being shown the thumb. It wasn’t Kevin Martin’s night, either: 3-10 for 11 points. Then again, all three of those makes were 3-pointers. Still, the one pair of numbers Carlesimo’s former assistant is going to stress tomorrow at practice is this: twenty turnovers for thirty Net points. And the best comment of the night comes from satirical tweeter “Scott Brooks’ Tie”: “Thunder drop to 1-13 when playing a game in the same building PJ Carlesimo is a head coach.” Well played, SBT.
The Sixers will be here Friday. I suspect they’re not as worried as they might have been, oh, three hours ago.