First, apologies for this recap running a bit late. I had to watch the game on DVR tonight.
This one never seemed in doubt. The Rockets were never able to stretch the lead beyond about 10, but never did I think Houston would be unable to pull away as the Thunder drew within 6 or 8 a few times.
In some respects, this was a battle of identities. Houston's identity as a disciplined, driven, unselfish and intelligent squad clashed with...with what exactly? OKC, at this point, lacks an identity as a team. They have talent, oodles of talent, of that there can be no doubt. But to what purpose? Never was an intensity of will, a drive to win on the Thunder's part, evident to me in this game.
This is not a character judgment of the Thunder, there are no aspersions for not being "crunch-time assassins" or some such. It simply seemed like each player went about his business with little regard for the outcome of the game or even looked at the scoreboard.
This may be where so much talented youth is a problem. Oklahoma City might benefit from a seasoned player or two, players not trying to discover their identities in the NBA, so much as live up to what they have established. For all that Westbrook and Durant (though not Green tonight) are awe-inspiring players, there is little evidence (tonight at least) of their games meshing, or realigning to accommodate the other. The two young men are preoccupied with exploring their own potential. There is nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if the Thunder will become too expensive before they become contenders. Portland may be seeing the edges of that problem now, OKC looks to be next.
Perhaps the relentless assault of the Rockets on both ends of the court demoralized our opponent tonight, and none of the above theories hold water. This game was almost a textbook repeat of what we are quickly coming to expect from these Rockets: balanced scoring (5, nearly 6, players in double figures), high assist total (26), efficient scoring (53.8% shooting), (mix in points in the paint, surprising offensive rebounding, aggressive defense, etc, etc). OKC is a young team, so it is certainly possible.
Without a doubt, there were a few instances of the Rockets hitting a wrong note - for instance Brooks couldn't hold Westbrook (though Lowry seemed to, until fouls, real and imagined, took him out of the contest). Mainly though, there was the sound of precision Rocket machinery, efficiently disposing of another opponent.
Carl Landry & Luis Scola- A simply awesome display. 21 points on 8-12 shooting, in 30 minutes, with 9 rebounds (5 offensive) for Carl. 19 pts on 8-13 shooting, and 10 rebounds for Luis. Yes, that's 40 points on 16-25 shooting, with 19 rebounds for our PF platoon.
Mt. Lowry - 4 blocks for the PG. Steals from the center, blocks from the point, where will it end?
The new old unis - I liked em.
Chuck Hayes - spent a lot of time sitting with fouls, on calls we really have not seen on him before.
Trevor Ariza - when he drives, a shot is going up. Period. This may become a problem, or he could have just felt bad tonight.
Empty Seats Courtside - is traffic on Friday night so bad that the expensive seats need to clear out at the mid point of the 4th quarter? The martinis, or pillows, respectively, will wait another 10 minutes. Stay for the win.