March 17, 2009
This game was very entertaining.
The Spurs kept turning it over, the Thunder kept taking advantage. The crowd rose to the occasion, the Spurs could string together a long enough run to keep the Thunder at bay, and the upset didn't really seem like an upset by the fourth quarter.
Tony Parker (28 points, seven assists, five turnovers) seemed unstoppable at times, Oklahoma City's backcourt wasn't exactly the most efficient, but Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha might be the most exciting pair of starting guards in the NBA, and Nenad (the Rebounding Machine) Krstic has been quite the pickup for da Thundah.
Also, Tim Duncan is clearly not healthy, Ime Udoka has never been the defensive stopper mainstream media pegged him as (he's good, but nowhere near Bruce Bowen; and Bruce Bowen hasn't been Bruce Bowen-like all season), while Kevin Durant was a few spin-outs away from 40 points. He had to settle for 25 in the win.
Oklahoma City is so fun to watch. Even when just putting up 78 points.
No defense out of the gate for the Raptors, no defense to close the first half, no defense to begin the second half, no defense during the clutch.
These are the Bobcats. They work hard, contest shots, and hope to drop 89 points. They dropped 112 on you, Raptors, and in spite of Chris Bosh's whining, nobody seemed to mind. Through the TV screen, at least, nobody seemed too aggrieved.
Gerald Wallace didn't turn it over in 39 minutes, he had 25 points with in nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a block.
Slow game. 86 possessions. Slooow game. Slow enough to tell you that Brandon Roy (20 points, nine assists, six rebounds, three turnovers) is closer to someone like Kobe Bryant in terms of contributions this season, than Kobe is to someone like LeBron/Wade/Paul. That guy is so, so underrated.
Credit Memphis for competing and not getting blown out by 22 ...? Yeah, fine, credit them. I had to keep switching back to make sure they weren't making a comeback, and I didn't enjoy that.
This was a game of runs until midway through the third quarter, when the Rockets answered Houston's own latest offensive run with a quarter and a half of shut down defense and sustained, solid, offense.
This followed an opening spurt to the second half that saw New Orleans seemingly take what felt like an insurmountable lead, mainly because the Rockets were without Yao Ming (flu-like symptoms), and the team struggles to put together 18-point quarters even with the 7-6 All-Star. A double-digit advantage over a Rocket team without Yao and T-Mac? With Ron Artest putting up one-foot nonsense? I thought this one was over.
Houston turned on the defense, however, New Orleans scored about 29 points over the last 20 minutes of the game, and I have no idea how the Rockets do it.
Actually, I have an idea, Daryl Morey brings in unheralded players that play better per-minute than their reputations suggest, and contributors like Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks had standout games, but the Rockets still never fail to impress. I'm constantly surprised by this team, and I shouldn't be. For someone who keeps watching them and watching them, over and over, that's saying something. This really is a special team.
No slight on New Orleans. They lost at home, in spite of an outstanding outing from Chris Paul (29 points, 11 assists, six steals, six rebounds, two turnovers in 43 minutes), but it's really hard to blame any team for losing to the Rockets at this point.
Towards the end of a season-crippling road trip, the Nets more or less gave up on this game.
History suggests we'll see more and more of these games as the season limps toward the end. So prepare for shorter and shorter recaps, as I take very little from one-sided pairings like these.