29 January 2011
The Washington Wizards fell to 0-22 on the road this season.
Thanks to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But the Wizards were just one shot away at various points of last night's game of picking up their first win away from home on the season.
Thanks, again, to the Thunder.
This pattern cannot continue. While Oklahoma City is still a very young team, there are certain expectations that have been set for this team following last year's first round series with the eventual NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. You don't play a great series like that, mature throughout another season, and then suffer through similar growing pains the following season.
It just doesn't work.
Kevin Durant is one of the best players and scorers in the game today. He may be the best. In last night's double overtime 124-117 win, he scored 40 points on 15-28 shooting from the field. He also hit 8-11 from the free throw line, although one more make could have ensured this game didn't go into a double overtime.
Russell Westbrook recorded yet another triple-double, dropping 35 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds. It was his third such performance of the season, and it was done in impressive fashion. Westbrook connected on half of his field goals (12-24) and turned the ball over just four times in the victory.
And then we stop.
Yes, Jeff Green played more minutes than any other player on the team and scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Those are very nice numbers, but you have to keep in mind that it was over the course of 51 minutes. After that - even in a double overtime game - no other member of the Thunder finished the game in double figures in scoring. James Harden got the start in place of the injured Thabo Sefolosha, yet did not put up the type of numbers that one may have expected. Daequan Cook was the leading scorer off the bench with 9 points, but it continues to be the same story every game.
Durant and Westbrook shine. Green plays fairly well, sporadically. And the other starters do very little while Harden has a decent night coming off the bench.
That will not be enough to get it done as the season progresses. It is that simple.
We are in a day and age in the NBA where the top contenders all seem to at least have their own version of a "big 3." Actually, that is also a bit of misnomer. Take a look at some of the top teams, and what their quote/unquote "big 3" has meant.
Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. As good as they are, they would not be anywhere near winning another title without Rajon Rondo.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. As good as they are, they still need Andrew Bynum.
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Would they be where they are without Richard Jefferson?
Miami Heat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They are still missing that fourth player.
So now, even a "big 3" is not enough. Many teams across the league have two superstars. Yes, Oklahoma City has the top scoring due in the game today. But two is not enough. Three may not even be enough. That is what this league is coming down to now.
You look at certain other teams who have a great 1-2 punch. The Atlanta Hawks have Joe Johnson and Al Horford. The Dallas Mavericks have Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. Teams such as the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls have three excellent players, and they are still not considered to be in the elite status. So what does all of this mean for the Thunder?
It can mean one of two things.
First, the rest of the team has to step up their game. Durant and Westbrook should not need to combine for 75 points to beat a lowly team at home. Green needs to be more productive on both ends of the floor. Either Sefolosha or Harden needs to score more in the two guard spot. Nenad Kristic and others need to help out more - at least defensively.
Or, this team needs to go out and acquire another somewhat prolific scorer before the trade deadline next month.
That is, if they expect to play deep into the postseason.
* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24, as he was named One of the 1,000 Most Influential Sports Writers on Twitter.
|< Prev||Next >|