Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Saints: Breaking Down the Game

February 2nd, 2011 by Ricky Frech Leave a reply »

From the get-go it was obvious that this was a game the Thunder should win handedly. During the second quarter the Hornets bench gave it a valiant effort, but in the end they couldn’t overcome the loss of multiple key players. Emeka Okafor was unable to suit up, Trevor Ariza could only contribute 21 minutes and Chris Paul was less than effective after a sprained ankle.

I must say that even in the loss I was impressed with a few of the Hornets players. First of all, David West stepped his rebounding game up, averaging more than double his season average, to help his team offset the loss of Okafor. I’ve always thought of West as more of a finesse player who was great off the pick and pop with Paul, but tonight he proved that he can go down low and bang for the tough boards.

Another New Orleans big, Ryan Anderson, had quite the spurt in the second quarter. His 13 points off the bench were a big help in giving the Hornets a lead going into halftime. I was also impressed with rookie, Quincy Pondexter’s fearlessness. Now, I would never call Kevin Durant an elite defender, but for a rookie to attack him like that showed me a lot of guts. However, those guts would’ve counted for nothing had Pondexter not hit his shots. Fortunately he was able to grab 10 points in 27 minutes of solid work.

Durant had another huge scoring game with 43 points, but he wasn’t the star of this game to me. That award goes to Serge Ibaka and his 12 boards and six blocks. His ability to be one of the better help-side defenders was on full display during this game. All of his blocks didn’t come against unsuspecting opponents as he held his man, David West to 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting.

I would be remiss to not make a mention of my favorite player Nick Collison. He isn’t the most athletic or skillful player out there, but he makes at least two plays a game that make my jaw drop with how good he is. Usually these plays aren’t the ones that make the highlight reels and are more of the intelligent nature. I’m starting to think he may just have the highest basketball IQ in the league.

It wasn’t all roses for the Thunder though. In the second quarter it seemed that the coaches had decided this would be an easy win with Okafor and Paul out, so they decided to play the bench more than usual. I mean, Russell Westbrook only had 27 minutes, which seems crazy for an MVP candidate who wasn’t really in foul trouble. It might turn out to be a good thing if the added playing time can get guys like Daequan Cook and Eric Maynor ready for the playoffs, but the second team almost let the game get away before halftime.

After the break though, this game was basically over. Durant was on fire late and probably could’ve hit a shot from the parking lot with three guys draped all over him. I feel bad for the Hornets because their second team did a great job with the stars out or hurt, but in the end they just couldn’t match up with OKC’s star power.

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