Thunder Net-Slapped Back To Reality
By Randy Renner
So this is what life's like in the NBA when you just have eight players and most of those guys are either backups or backups to the backups.
The Brooklyn Nets jumped on the shorthanded Thunder early, leading 32-19 after the first quarter and never looked back except maybe to wave bye-bye in their 116-85 win.
It's the first time during this snakebit start to the 2014-15 season that the Thunder have looked bad, really, really bad.
In Portland they played well for three quarters and ran out of gas in the fourth. In Los Angeles they hung in against the Clippers for the entire game and had a chance to send that game into overtime and then Saturday night the Thunder's pieced together roster totally dominated the Denver Nuggets and picked up their first win.
With backup point guard Reggie Jackson coming back into the lineup last night things promised to get even better.
Instead the opposite happened.
No sooner had Jackson gotten healthy enough to play again shooting guard Andre Roberson sprained his left foot and couldn't return to the game. He's already been ruled out for tonight's contest in Toronto.
Well he turned to hero ball but played more like a villain. The Thunder's ball movement, which has been surprisingly good under the direction of third teamer Sebastian Telfair went out the window last night. With Jackson running the point the ball slowed down and stopped in Jackson's hands.
He took 20 shots (eight more than anyone else) and missed 12 of those. He ended up with a game-high 23 points but also committed a game-high seven turnovers.
Things got so bad that both Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins appeared to shun Jackson after they had pulled down defensive rebounds.
After Ibaka controlled his rebound he passed ahead to Telfair (who was in at shooting guard, filling in for Roberson). Jackson had been standing next to Ibaka and usually would get the ball.
A little later when Perkins got his rebound he appeared to lightly shove Jackson away and Perk also passed ahead to Telfair.
Telfair had nine assists in the Nuggets game and he had six last night while also scoring 16 points.
After the game Jackson admitted he'd screwed some things up.
"I played pretty terrible...seven turnovers, I shot poorly, I feel like I let my teammates down," he said and his teammates would have probably agreed, his head coach certainly did.
"It's simple, you just have to get off the basketball," Scott Brooks said after the game. "You got four teammates out there and in order for other guys to participate you've got to move the ball. We didn't do that tonight, particularly Reggie didn't do that tonight."
Pretty harsh criticism from Brooks who usually shies away from directly and individually criticizing any of his players in the media and that just points out even more how frustrated everyone was.
The Thunder are now 1-3 and 1-5 is going to be tough to avoid playing tonight in Toronto (the second night of a back-to-back against a playoff team) and then returning home to face the rough and tumble Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
At least the schedule lightens up after that. 16 of the 19 games on the schedule after Friday are against teams that didn't make the playoffs last season.
If the Thunder can get back to doing things the way they did in the first three games that next stretch will have several opportunities for wins.
If not, instead of keeping their heads above water while all the injuries heal the Thunder will be drowning by Thanksgiving.