Game 26 Preview: Rockets at Thunder
December 15, 2010
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Tipoff 8:00PM EST
Luis Scola – 20.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg
Kevin Martin – 22.8 ppg
Aaron Brooks – DTD
Nedad Krstic – DTD
The Thunder took the season’s opening match-up against the Rockets, 116-99. The 2nd time out, the Rockets got some payback, winning 99-98 as Durant missed a potential game winning shot at the buzzer.
How did the Thunder lose their last game, and what do they need to do differently this time out?
How the Thunder lost:
- Like many times we’ve seen this season, the Thunder allowed the opposition to get out to a quick start. After a quarter, the then-offensively challenged Rockets had already put 33 points on the board, a full third of everything they would get on that day. The Thunder weren’t far behind, only back by eight, and they won the next three quarters, but it was their early lapse in defense that cost them in the end.
- Their free throw shooting probably cost them the game. They only shot 15-23 on the night, and obviously in a one point loss that makes the misfires all the more painful.
- They lost the rebounding battle 44-36, and most of that difference can be found in seven additional offensive boards for the Rockets. Those boards were huge in helping them maintain their lead throughout, as they were outshot by the Thunder, 49.4% to 45.2% from the field.
- It is surprising to look back on the post-game stats, because if you examine them you’d think that the Thunder came out on top. It goes to show how sometimes competency can carry a team when the other isn’t fully focused on the task at hand.
How the Thunder can win:
- Don’t waste possessions. Frequently the Thunder have had a rash of turnovers in the first half (hey, Russell) and then tighten things up in the 2nd. They really need to stay focused on not giving away possessions, especially with unforced turnovers like trying spin-moves around three guys.
- Defensive rebounding is crucial. I’m a broken record here, obviously. But as noted in one of today’s links, opponent offensive rebounding is the issue du jour that needs improvement. Luis Scola is a solid post presence and will torment them inside both scoring and rebounding if they don’t make stopping him a priority.
- Good offensive possessions will begin with Durant in the post. He’s going to have Shane Battier on him once more, and Mr. Battier is an exceptional defensive player who has historically hounded Durant. He’s great at running through screens, not falling for head-fakes, and overall making life miserable for swingmen. This strength can be neutralized by having Durant take him into the post where Durant can rely on his length and jumping (and as of late: passing) abilities. Keep Green on the perimeter looking for open jumpers, and the spacing will allow Westbrook to get to the rim.
- Use that bench. Get the bench players involved early and often, because the Rockets don’t have the horses to run with the Thunder’s 6-10.
- Keep the home stand going strong. The Thunder love their fans, and the fans love them. Symbiosis baby!