Thunder Lose Preseason Opener
By Randy Renner
It's always nice to win but during the NBA's preseason winning really isn't the bottom line, especially when you're trying to see how new players fit into the whole scheme of things.
The Thunder started fast in Denver Wednesday night but faded and lost to the Nuggets 114-101.
Even with the loss Thunder head coach Scott Brooks was pretty happy.
“I thought we came out from the start and played good basketball," he told reporters after the game. "A lot of good movement on both ends of the floor. We were active on the defensive end with our hands, contesting some shots, rebounding, passing the ball very well, setting screens, setting our man up. The first quarter was really good. But throughout the game we had a lot of good moments.”
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were the only regular starters who played and they were only out on the floor for about a quarter of the game.
For the record KD had 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting and a couple of rebounds in 12 minutes of playing time and Russ finished with four points, four steals, three rebounds and three assists in 13 minutes. Westbrook was just 1-for-5 shooting and had three turnovers.
The guys who really shined (at times anyway) were second year man Steven Adams, who was the Thunder's leading scorer with 15 points and rookie Mitch McGary, who was right behind with 14 points. The two big men passed the ball back and forth to each other and ran the floor very well at times.
“It’s something that we work on," Brooks said. "We work on it every day and I thought they executed it very well. (Mitch) has a good feel for the game and he puts it on the floor and makes good decisions. And Steven does a good job of finishing around the rim. But I thought those two guys played well in that first quarter.”
Adams also pulled down seven rebounds and blocked two shots but he struggled when he came to fouling and being fouled. Adams fouled out after playing just 21 minutes and when he was fouled he couldn't hit his free throws (1-for-5).
McGary played 36 minutes and also grabbed four rebounds, had two assists and two steals. He continues to make a strong push for playing time in the regular season.
Durant was also impressed with the overall play of the Adams-McGary duo down low.
“They played extremely well. Mitch is a great passer, and Steven is great at finishing so they complement each other very well," KD said. "When you have two guys that play extremely hard they make things easier for everybody else.”
The downside is that McGary left the game early with a foot injury, it's not known how serious it is. He's being evaluated further after having ice on the foot after last night's game.
Jeremy Lamb also played 36 minutes but he struggled mightily with his shot, going just 1-for-14 (0-for-6 on threes). At the moment Brooks isn't too concerned.
"It’s hard to tell if every shot was good. I know he forced a couple. But he has to continue to look for his set-ups. I think when he sets up his man he puts himself in a better position to get a better shot," Brooks said.
They'll look at film today in Dallas and see where things went wrong.
Overall the Thunder shot 56 percent in the first quarter but they tailed off and finished the game at just 37 percent. Anthony Morrow scored 10 points and was 1-for-3 on threes, he played 16 minutes.
Several players sat out the game with various sprains and strains including Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins, and Perry Jones III.
The Thunder are in Dallas now and will play the Mavericks Friday night. For any of you OU fans who are heading down to Big-D there are still tickets available at American Airlines Center. Tipoff is set for 7:30.