You know, if Scott Brooks could get decent performances from even six of his ten actual players, the Thunder surely would have a record better than 3-10. (A Tulsa woman on Twitter invoked the painful memory of 2008-09, which began 3-29.) But it didn’t happen in Denver, where the Thunder, down 17 at one point in the third quarter, mounted enough of a rally to pull within three late, only to see the Nuggets nail back-to-back treys, one by Wilson Chandler, one by Arron Afflalo, and squelch what was left of the Thunder’s hopes. Denver 107, Oklahoma City 100, evening the season series at 1-1.
Contrast: Sebastian Telfair, who didn’t miss a shot all night (7-7, 4-4 on treys, 18 points), and Reggie Jackson, who missed a lot of them (5-20, 0-3 on treys, 6-6 free throws for 16 points). Speaking of not hitting treys, Anthony Morrow went 0-4, and Andre Roberson, in limited minutes, was 1-4. Serge Ibaka had a good night: 22 points, 13 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb had a not-so-good night: 8 points. Kendrick Perkins spent more time in the middle than did Steven Adams, but neither was as much of a factor as Timofey Mozgov, who not only guarded the lane but scored 17 points from close in.
Four of five starting Nuggets hit double figures; Kenneth Faried, the one who didn’t, did grab ten rebounds to go with his eight points. Chandler led Denver with 21 and nine boards; Ty Lawson served up 15 points and 15 assists. Denver didn’t drop below 50% shooting until the very end, and finished with 49. (Thunder shooting was not awful: 46%, and 10-23 on treys, though they’re 6-19 if you factor out whatever alchemy was sending Telfair’s long shots into the cylinder.) There is, however, one Telltale Statistic: OKC blocked zero shots. None. Not Ibaka, not Collison, not nobody. Explains some of that highfalutin’ Denver shootin’, don’t it?
For what it’s worth, during the annus horribilis that was 2008-09, OKC got its fourth win on the 31st of December. It shouldn’t take that long this year. Then again, “shouldn’t” is a word one shouldn’t use in connection with sports.