Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots defended by Milwaukee Bucks center Ekpe Udoh (5) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. Oklahoma City won 101-85.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Couldn’t have been a worse week for the Thunder.
Losses at Denver and Utah where Oklahoma City looked lost and confused, unable to defend, and stagnant on offense.
Saturday couldn’t get here quickly enough.
So, whatheheck was the Thunder doing messing around with Milwaukee.
This game had "Slumpbuster" written all over it, but it nearly turned into something a lot worse – like a loss. OKC was coming off of sorry performances at Utah and then at Denver, so with 7-28 Milwaukee coming to OKC, and coming off a loss Friday night where the Bucks missed their last 11 shots, Saturday seemed like it should have been a Thunder walk-over.
It ended up that way, a 101-85 win, but it took until midway through the third quarter before OKC crept away from the Bucks.
Here are three more thoughts from Saturday’s win:
1. OMG, is Kevin Durant OK?
Well, he says he is. It was a nasty fall Durant took in the second quarter, but it was a great finish.
Durant started the game one-for-nine from the floor before being accidentally undercut. He landed on his side and his left wrist and hit his head on the floor.
"That’s not the first one I took," Durant said of the hard fall. "I guess I’m used to those." Durant then said the fall woke him up. He finished the game seven-of-nine, had 10 rebounds and seven assists. Durant had 33 points.
"You’re always concerned," Brooks said of the fall. "That is part of the game. That’s nothing I worry about. You just play. Hopefully the injuries don’t happen. He’s as tough as anyone in the league. He takes a lot of hard fouls."
It took Durant to wake up before the Thunder woke up. The Thunder scored just 14 points in the first quarter. OKC was just 4-of-20 from the field – Durant went zero-for-five, Thabo Sefolosha was two-for-seven. The only thing worse was the Bucks, who went 5-for-21 and scored only 10 points.
"All we wanted to focus on was defense," Durant said. "Maybe that’s why our offense wasn’t so good. They hit some shots, but overall we did a good job."
Milwaukee wound up shooting 39.5 percent and Kevin Durant wound up playing almost 40 minutes. The good news is, he got up and seemed fine the rest of the game.
2. OK, so Durant is OK, but what about Reggie Jackson?
Honestly, did you even notice him out there Saturday night. Jackson was nearly invisible, he made no impact on the game despite playing 24 minutes.
Jackson was one-of-eight shooting had two turnovers and three assists and finished with just the two points. It’s that kind of performance that could really be a problem, not just for Jackson, but for the future of the team without Russell Westbrook.
Simply, when Jackson doesn’t play well, it means more minutes for Derek Fisher (dangerous) and more minutes Durant has to spend handling the ball (also dangerous). Obviously, if Jackson is not helping the team, he needs to come out, but the moment coach Scott Brooks goes to Fisher, is not a great sign. Fisher was the first off the bench for the Thunder Saturday. Not Steven Adams. Not Jeremy Lamb. Not Nick Collison.
Fisher isn’t exactly the go-to guy when your offense is struggling like it was Saturday, yet Brooks went with him.
"I have to sub someone first," Brooks said. "Next game it might be Nick (Collison) first. Someone has to be . Other than I thought he (Fisher was ready to come in (there was no special reason)."
Going on feel is fine, but going on feel and choosing Fisher makes me think Brooks doesn’t have a good feel.
But then again, Fisher finished four-of-nine for 10 points and five assists. He turned it over only once. So there you have it.
3. More of that from Jeremy Lamb
We learned a few things about Jeremy LambSaturday.
1. He can bounce back after a bad game, and 2., Kevin Durant calls him, "Lambo."
The first part is probably more crucial to the Thunder’s success. Lamb was excellent, playing the role of Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook Saturday. Lamb got to the basket, shot with authority and confidence and showed he can create his own shot as well as spot up.
"I’m proud of Jeremy," Brooks said. "He bounced back. A lot of times that’s not easy to do. He bounced back and gave us great energy."
Lamb finished 6-for-10 from the field a game after going 1-for-12 at Denver. Lamb had 17 points off the bench in 28 minutes against the Bucks and wound up making three-of-five 3-pointers as well as getting three rebounds and a pair of assists. It was definitely needed, as Jackson struggled.
"It felt good," Lamb said. "We needed a win. We started off a little slow, but got it going, kept playing defense and were able to win."