I just watched one of the best games of the early season as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Washington Wizards 106-105. The Thunder found themselves down most of the game due to some pretty bad shooting percentages. They were shooting around 37 percent to end the first-half. Things picked up after NeNê and Russell Westbrook were ejected in the fourth quarter. Something clicked and OKC quickly turned up the heat. Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka ignited a fire that would carry the Thunder back into the game. Jeremy Lamb also got in on the fun with a late three that pulled them to within four points. Down 93-96, Kevin Durant would hit a crown-raising three-pointer that would send the game into overtime.
It was in overtime where the teams would trade buckets. Bradley Beal of the Wizards had an amazing game; he torched the Thunder for a career-high 34 points. Beal also put in six three-pointers, tying his career-high in makes. He’d be a problem in overtime but Durant, Jackson and Ibaka continued to shine in the extra time. They’d pull their team through with a victory in what was one very exciting game. I’m not one of those people who say that things don’t get good until the NBA playoffs; I believe that every matchup means something, just as each and every one of those players believe. It was truly a joy to watch these two teams give it their all out there tonight.
We saw yet another big game from the three-time scoring champion Durant who’s starting out on the right note in his fourth campaign. He’s currently the top scorer in the league; averaging 30.2 points per game. Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves is in second with 27.2 per game. It’ll be fun to watch these two battle it out for that scoring title, and maybe even the MVP award as well.
The Thunder’s bench had been receiving high praise as of late for their great play. Tonight wasn’t one of their better nights, but they still came through when they were really needed. That’s something you take away as a positive. I think they should still be walking out of that arena with their heads held high. Steven Adams had only one point tonight after playing his best game the season this past Friday against the Detroit Pistons. It’s good to know that certain players can still struggle and the Thunder can still find a way to come out on top. Now of course you don’t ever want anyone to struggle, but it’s a long season and it’s full of obstacles. It’ll be a while before any team is playing up to their full potential. This team gave it their all while dealing with Westbrook’s ejection and sub-par performances from multiple players. Ibaka did manage to have a monster of a game with 25 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
For the Thunder, next week starts out in Los Angeles against the Clippers in a Wednesday night game on ESPN. They then have to face the Golden State Warriors the following night on TNT. Two big prime-time games that come back-to-back are never easy. It’ll be tough on this team as they still try to find their true identity, but I get the feeling that they’re more than ready to meet all challenges head on. It’s been a fun start for the Thunder and things are about to pick up a bit.