Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pre-Season Game 1 Recap: Timberwolves 88, Thunder 82

NBA.com Boxscore

If I had to describe this game in one word, I'd say: throwback.

First of all, the game was broadcast on KSBI-TV, channel 52. Back in the 90s, many teams had no FSN affiliate and broadcast their games on local stations. The presentation here reminded me very much so of that. The cameras were high-school football quality. The graphics were very minimal, and the musical theme, essentailly a thunder clap and a trumpet, sounded hilariously bad.

Secondly, the whole arena looked very old school. There was minimal floor design, and there was no moving advertisements in front of the scorers table. The highlight of the game was probably when Rodney Carney dived for a loose ball and knocked down the banner on the scorers table, and no one ever bothered to put it back up.

Thirdly, the game was a gruelfest. It was a combination of the fact that the players that were good were playing like crap, and the fact that both teams refused to shoot a lot of 3s. It reminded me a lot of those games in the 80s when they had just invented the 3 point line, but most teams were too scared to shoot the shot regularly unless they had Larry Bird or Magic Johnson.

When you get right down to it, this was a really bad outing for the Thunder. I know that it's hard to take anything of value from Pre-Season games, but lets just look at the Field Goal shooting of our starters:
Chris Wilcox 6-10
Jeff Green 1-7
Nick Collison 2-7
Earl Watson 1-7
Kevin Durant 3-13

Aside from the good game of Wilcox, the shooting was horrible. What's even sadder is that most of these shots were from mid-range. All 5 starters shot a combination of 2 3s. Yeah. On top of this, everybody from the starting lineup saw heavy, heavy minutes. You could see that they were tired, but coach Carlesimo didn't show much interest in bringing the signees off of the bench.

The roatation players were a different story. Damien Wilkins looked like he was doing everything that Durant was supposed to do: Actually making his jump shots, goin 7-12 from the floor and scoring 19 points. Russell Westbrook also looked good. He had 13 assists and 3 points, but his game was marred by a whopping 5 turnovers. He really didn't look ready at all to lead the team at Point Guard.

If you're going to take something from this game, here's 3 Key things:

1. The Thunder really, really, really, really need a true point guard. Most of the time, Durant had to create for himself, and he utterly failed. This isn't college anymore, and he needs someone to distribute to him and get him open looks. Watson certainly wasn't proving himself to do that, with just 4 assists in 28 minutes, with a whopping 5 turnovers. Westbrook had almost the same problem. It's painfully obvious that Sam Presti has to make some moves in order for this team to be successful.

2. 3 Point shooting is not our main problem. Teams can survive without scoring a lot, as evidenced by how we kept the game close even after getting so far behind in the first. Contrary to what the Oklahoma City fans want, this team will survive on a lot of defense and 12 foot jumpers.

3. We need to play our other guys. Carlesimo was giving a whole lotta minutes to the main guys. We played only 10 guys, with the only real non-rotationer being Courtney Alexander, who played for a paltry 6 minutes. I'd like to see what the training camp signees are made of.

Anyway, on to our Thunder Wonder and Blunder:

Thunder Wonder:
Damien Wilkins
19 Points, 7-12 Shooting, 1-2 3 Point Shooting, 4-6 Free Throw Shooting, 5 Rebounds, 1 Steal

Have to give the Wonder to Damien tonight. He essentially carried the team through the 3rd quarter after its 2nd quarter surge, and was really the only reason we stayed in the game. Weezy had a good night too, and was a close second.

Thunder Blunder:
Earl Watson
2 Points, 1-7 Shooting, 0-1 3 Point Shooting, 1 Rebound, 4 Assists, 5 Turnovers, 1 Steal

Kevin Durant was close to getting this award, but while he had similar shooting, he didn't have more turnovers than assists as a point guard, and he had no rebounds. Earl Watson was really, really useless today.

Well, there's not much more to say about the game at this point. The good people of Billings, Montana got their fair share of pro basketball, and we got our first taste of what the season will be like.

And as a side note, apologies for the pictureless recap. Pre-Season games aren't covered so well media-wise.