Observations on Thunder @ Pelicans

Published: December 3, 2014

After the Wizards game, Monty said over and over that the team had lacked ball movement and that needed to be fixed.  Tonight, the team came out moving the ball snappily and the first half (minus a few bench-heavy minutes) was a showpiece.  At one point in the second, The Pelicans ran a play which consisted of three consecutive pick and rolls Tyreke/Anderson, Jrue/Davis, Jrue/Anderson.  As each pick moved, the bigs rolled through and set screens for the other wing players not directly involved.  Every player moved, and a layup resulted.

Then, in the second half the Pelicans were up big, and I guess they decided they’d done enough of that and could go back to their ugly offense.  Things stalled, lots of single pick and rolls, and flares to the wing that resulted in no further ball movement.  The ball didn’t find Davis almost ever – as he doesn’t flare all the way to the perimeter to catch the ball and therefore won’t get the ball – because once anyone else ventures inside the line?  They be shootin’!

Still there was enough cushion, defensive plays and Evans to close this one out despite Durant deciding he was going to score whenever he damn pleased in the fourth.


  • The offense in the fourth was really stagnant until Monty started running a sideline double post up by Evans and Davis.  Davis would post up about 17 feet out, Evans would post Jeremy Lamb about 12 feet out and Anthony would get and then deliver the ball to Evans.  Davis then would cut hard, making Lamb worry about the lob, putting him just off that half-second that Evans needed to face up and bull to the hoop.  After it worked twice, Evans faked the post up, spun easily around his defender and got a layup off a nicely delivered pass from Davis.  This was good matchup basketball with plays that had a clear purpose rather than Hero-Guard Gets a Pick and Saves the Day!
  • Continuing on that little stretch in the fourth that saved the game – the Thunder pulled Lamb after that and Roberson proved much harder to post and receive the ball.  So Evans caught the ball behind the three point line, faced up Roberson, faked him until Roberson had closed enough, and then simply muscled the longer but lighter Roberson to the basket.  This wasn’t pretty offense, but it was an impressive show of Tyreke’s power game.
  • As Byron Marcus Washington said in the game on post comments, Asik was key to this game.  Not having to worry too much about Perkins and Adams, he was able to more freely cut off drivers.  That helped force a lot of off-the-dribble mid range shots from Jackson and Westbrook.  Asik didn’t finish because Scotty Brooks realized how badly Asik was out-playing his centers and went with Ibaka and Durant as the bigs in the fourth, giving Asik no one he could really guard.
  • Alpha Dog Check of the Game:  Westbrook picked up a technical in the second, and with Jrue Holiday and his 91.9% free throw shooting on the floor, Davis didn’t hesitate and walked to the line and took the free throw.  He hit it. (though he did miss 7 this game.  ugh)
  • Speaking of Jrue – he was magnificent on Westbrook all night.  You will never stop Westbrook completely, but Jrue kept hitting him with different looks, made him look like a fool when he tried to post him up, harassed, and forced Westbrook to make decisions at high speeds a lot.  The result – a lot of bad jumpers, complaining to the refs and 7 turnovers.  Holiday even pinned one of his layups.  It’s not often Westbrook finds a guy who close to matches his athletic gifts.  Jrue is pretty close.
  • Fredette and Rivers were both terrible.  That’s why Salmons got 25 minutes and the team went with the three-big man line up for a lot of the game.  It’s not that Salmons wasn’t terrible, but at least he was in the right spot most of the time.
  • I loved the fastbreak touch pass Davis delivered to Tyreke for an and-one.  He had to leap in the air like a wide receiver and reach way out over a defender to get his hands on that ball – and he still directed it right where it needed to go.
  • Oh – and Davis had 25 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals, 4 blocks, and 1 turnover.  On 15 freaking shots.  Dude is sick.
  • Babbitt got the start and provided the floor stretching the team needed.  He just couldn’t handle Durant for long, drawing 4 quick fouls in the first half.
  • Anderson was awesome – though some of his dumb zone shots were cringe inducing, even if they went in.
  • Hey, I recapped a win!

Next game is Thursday at Golden State!


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