OKC drops one, but defense looks surprisingly good lately
By Suave Francisco
There goes the winning streak as Oklahoma City drops one to the Detroit Pistons. The outcome still stings a little bit, but Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka not playing tonight sure does play an obvious role in this 88-82 loss in Detroit. In a poor shooting night, the only positive attribute in this game has to be the defense played.
In a game where Josh Heustis and Randy Foye got 15 minutes, and Kyle Singler got a start, the outcome of this game didn't fall Oklahoma City's way. Call me crazy, but Oklahoma City did a great job contending with this Piston team that's now five games over .500. This is a playoff team OKC just played and despite only scoring 82 points, they held them to 88 for the game which is a great sign moving towards the future. Remember when the common complaint of this team was defense or lack thereof? Well, that seems to be fixed, with this team playing solid defense all month.
What about the 82 points?
Easy solution to that...Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka bring about 41 points to this offense, and with those 41 points, Oklahoma would've surpassed their season average of 110 points per game. The play of Heustis was quite refreshing considering this is only his second NBA game of his young career. There were time times where he got grilled defensively, but as a whole, he helped this team out both defensively and at times offensively. These are the types of games he needs, to accelerate his development. The Oklahoma city Blue is good for players, but there's nothing like getting into a big-league game and performing like he did. Josh finished this game with five points off 2-3 shooting and more importantly, he and Cameron Payne had the highest plus/minus with him earning a plus two and Payne earning a team-high plus 13. Enes Kanter probably had the most impactful game, at least offensively, finishing with 14 points and 14 rebounds in 24 minutes of play, and the cherry on top for him was the three he nailed from the left wing.
This is a game that despite the loss, you have to be happy about in the way of development. Players that don't get to see the court often definitely got a chance tonight, and they almost beat a playoff team, despite Russell Westbrook shooting just 28 percent from the field. This would have been an extremely nice win for Oklahoma City if he would've just had his average game.
Next up is a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday in Oklahoma City, a game that will be physical and competitive, which is the reason Billy Donovan sat Durant and Ibaka. The Clippers are still trying to make a push for a three-seed in the Western Conference, but considering a number of games left, and the teams records, that doesn't look likely.