After the debacle last night, you had to figure the Thunder would take out their frustrations on Charlotte, and the Bobcats somehow stayed in contention for thirteen, fourteen minutes, before the hammer came down and the blowout began. OKC, up by a mere three after the first quarter, cranked up the tempo enough to take a 58-40 lead at the half — and then had the audacity to speed it up. Defense? How much do you need when you’re shooting 63 (!) percent? So the ‘Cats got a respectable 55 points in that second half and still lost ground, and all 13 active Thundermen got minutes. Yes, even Ryan Reid. It was 122-95, and even radio guy Matt Pinto seemed relieved when the shot clock was finally shut off.
Workhorse Corey Maggette, who never seems to age, was good for 21 points, and the two ex-Thunder players on the Charlotte roster acquitted themselves well: Byron Mullens had 12 points on 6-8 shooting, and D. J. White 10 on 4-7. In fact, when you add D. J. Augustin’s team-leading 22, you discover that more than a third of Charlotte’s offense was generated by guys named D. J. And when you realize this means nothing, you forget about it and go on to the one area where the Bobcats shone: offensive rebounds, of which they had 15. The Thunder had only six, but then how many offensive rebounds can you get when you shoot 63 percent?
James Harden, who’d gone one whole game without a new career high, made up for that tonight with a sparkling 33-point performance, hitting 11 of 16 from the floor and 4 of 9 for distance. And this on nights where Kevin Durant (26 on 8-12) and Russell Westbrook (23 on 10-14) were hitting on all cylinders, no less. In fact, everyone scored except Reid, who played only five minutes. Former Bobcat Nazr Mohammed — turnabout is fair play, y’know — manned the middle for 13 minutes and scored four, rebounded thrice, pulled off two steals and blocked two shots. The Thunder still put up a heck of a lot of three-balls, but they actually made ten of them (out of 23), so no one’s complaining.
The last game of the home stand is Tuesday, against the Rockets, after which it’s off to Denver. Already I miss the East.