Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Gods of Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder pulled one off for the ages last night. Their 124-118 overtime win was a pretty good hard-fought game. The Nuggets got to 118 by having seven players hit double figures. But the Thunder only needed four people in double digits to get to 124. Well, two in particular.
Kevin Durant hit the 50-point plateau for the first time ever, dropping 51 on the Nuggs. He was followed closely by Russell Westbrook, who hit for 40… making them the first teammates to go for 40+ since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1996, and the first teammates to go for 50 and 40 since 1983. Kiki Vandeweghe and Alex English pulled it off in a triple OT game.
But what made this the most epic of the epic wins was Serge Ibaka’s 14 point, 15 rebound, 11 block triple-double, making this the only game in NBA history in which one player went for 50, a teammate went for 40, and another teammate dropped a triple double.
I’m a writer. I’m paid to come up with words to properly express things I’ve seen that you might not have. Or to enhance and add perspective to those things you have seen. But I’ve got nothing here. This is one of those situations where you sit back and marvel at the numbers. Oh, and marvel at these numbers too: Kevin Durant is 23 years-old. So is Russell Westbrook. And Ibaka is 22. These are a bunch of kids out there doing this. What happens when they hit their physical peaks in a few years?
2: Lin-[name pun deleted] is Linfectious!
Argh, we’re still working on our Jeremy Lin name-pun censor here at CC. Some of theme still make their way through.
Strip away the puns and the hype and the media madness (Lin has had to publicly ask the Taiwanese media to back off from following his family around) and you have a very special story that somehow continues to build momentum. Lin is on a personal campaign to win over the doubters at every stop.
Before yesterday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, Jason Terry said.
“I think it’s a lot of hype right now,” said Terry, who joined the Mavs in New York on Saturday and will play today. “Is he going to be a good player in the future? If he continues to work he will, but again, given the opportunity he’s taken advantage of it, but everybody’s making a lot out of the seven games he’s played. I’ve been in the league 13 years, so seven games doesn’t necessarily make a career, but he does have great buzz. We’ll see when he faces the champs tonight.”
28 points and a career high 14 assists later, Terry sang a different tune.
“I think they found something in Lin, and they’re starting to piece together a team that can beat anyone.”
Lin’s not only converting doubters into believers, he’s bringing his teammates up on the pedestal with him. New York rode Steve Novak… STEVE NOVAK!!!… in a huge second half comeback after it looked like the defending champs would start to impose their will. Novak hit 4 of 5 from three in the comeback and was so en fuego, he did this Aaron Rogers championship belt move.
Novak looks like the team accountant. When you can get him to be so unstoppable that that move actually means something… you’re good.
Terry is right. If the Knicks can insert Carmelo Anthony and keep this kind of offensive flow, they’ll be really scary. If Melo can keep the ball moving, and if he can be something better than a defensive liability, then the Knicks might have something special.
Kevin Durant with the slam to send the game into OT
Ricky Rubio with a pretty no-look for the dunk
LeBron tosses the half court alley oop to DWade
4: Line of the Night: Serge Ibaka – 14 points (6-7 fg), 15 rebounds (8 offensive), 11 blocked shots
In a game where KD dropped 51 and Westbrook had 40, it was Ibaka’s line that kept calling to me. His 11 blocked shots meant 22 points never made it onto Denver’s side of the board. His 8 offensive rebounds kept key possessions alive for the Thunder and hitting 6 of his 7 shots make him a very important safety valve for when defenses key too much on the other guys.
But those 11 blocks, to me, are the same as if he had no blocks but scored 36 points. That’s the effect he had on that game. And he did it without having to take shots away from two guys were as hot as hot gets. The 51 and 40 points nights are much sexier, but I LOVE what Ibaka did last night.
5: You can quote me on that
“Coach really shocked me. He told me I was barely going to play. If I did get in the game, it would probably be in limited minutes. I was in a great situation, going down the stretch and having that confidence in me. My teammates were unbelievable. They really helped me out big time. With that confidence right there, that’s all I needed.”
– JR Smith, on playing 29 minutes in his Knicks debut
“When you think about just the shooting numbers you would say, ‘Your defense was great.’ But we were turning the ball over, we gave up offensive rebounds, and we fouled every possession. I think [the Pistons] had 19 more free throws than us at halftime, plus  more field goal attempts. The fact that we were only down 13 was a miracle, we should have been down by 40.”
– Doc Rivers, after the Celtics loss to Detroit, their 3rd straight
“We’ve got another gear when it gets close to the playoffs, and we’ve got another gear in the playoffs”