Most of this game, it seemed, consisted of watching the Thunder retrieving a Hornet miss: Charlotte’s two heavy hitters, Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, were held to 10 points between them. (Walker had 6.) Then again, all you really need to know is this: both Lance Thomas and Grant Jerrett played. In fact, no starter for either side played in the fourth quarter until Perry Jones was reinserted with three minutes left, perhaps to give him some simulated crunch-time experience. The Hornets, who’d won four straight coming into this game, looked pretty much stunned by halftime, at which point they trailed 59-40. The final was an almost-embarrassing 98-75.
There was some Charlotte offense: reserve point guard Brian Roberts knocked down 17 points in less than 20 minutes, and Marvin Williams added 11. (Cody Zeller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were the top-scoring starters, at, um, nine each.) The Buglets shot a dismal 29 percent, 21 percent from outside, and while they did pull off eight steals, they lost the rebounding battle 57-52. And if 52 sounds like a lot of rebounds for the losing team, well, the fourth-quarter version of the Thunder obligingly missed a lot of shots, dropping OKC to under 41 percent. (Jerrett put up five treys, none of them actually going through the net.)
Russell Westbrook, who sat with three minutes left in the third, still racked up 29 points. Serge Ibaka put together another double-double: 13 points, 14 rebounds, along with four blocks. (The Hornets had two blocks total.) Anthony Morrow led the OKC bench with 11. And a 44-24 advantage in points in the paint never hurts.
So it’s back to Not Quite .500, by which we mean 15-16. Next opponent, however, will presumably be a little tougher: the Mavericks, in Dallas on Sunday.