13 January 2011
Yao Ming did not suit up for the Houston Rockets last night. Neither did Kevin Martin. For that matter, neither did Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, Dikembe Mutombo or David Wesley. For those of you who are questioning my knowledge of current NBA rosters, I suppose I should explain my listing of some of those names.
Those were members of the Rockets the last time the Oklahoma City Thunder - back when they were still the Seattle Super Sonics - defeated Houston at home. The Sonics won the road game by a score of 87-85 on February 22, 2005. Last night would change that dubious mark for the Thunder, who were finally able to snap almost a six year losing drought to the Rockets on the road. Granted, six years sounds a whole lot worse than 11 games, but you have to write for dramatic emphasis at times.
For those of you who are curious as to who helped the Sonics/Thunder win that game, they were led by Ray Allen with 29 points. Rashard Lewis chipped in with 23 points and Vladimir Radmanovic added 10 points coming off the bench. Oddly enough, Nick Collison was still a member of this franchise, as he scored 4 points and pulled down 3 rebounds in a reserve role.
I guess not all that much has changed after all, as Collison had 6 points and 3 rebounds in last night's victory. He picked up 4 personal fouls in each contest. I guess he truly is the model of consistency.
The more things change, the more they really do stay the same.
Kevin Durant was the high scorer last night for the Thunder, dropping 30 points in the winning effort. Russell Westbrook finished the game just 2 rebounds shy of a triple-double, as he scored 23 points, dished out 13 assists and obviously grabbed 8 rebounds. His shooting still leaves a bit to be desired at times, but he continues to make up for it in other aspects of his game.
Jeff Green also chipped in with a big 16 points on a solid shooting performance, but he did not record any rebounds. Serge Ibaka continues to push Green for playing time at the power forward spot, as he also scored 16 points last night, and did so on 8 of 9 shooting from field goal range. He also pulled down 6 rebounds.
This continues to be a team of two halves. The Thunder often come out sluggish in the first half, only to get lambasted by head coach Scott Brooks at half time and come out huge in the third and fourth quarters. You would think that they would get the message, but this is a habit that needs to change if this team expects to challenge in the west.
The Thunder have another stiff test tonight at home against the Orlando Magic, who handed them a 14 point loss when these two teams last met in November.
* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24, as he was named one of the 1,000 Most Influential Sports Writers on Twitter in 2010.
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