Archive for the NBA Category

Last night Mason and I attended the OKC Thunder/Atlanta Hawks game. The Hawks went into the game undefeated (four wins, no losses); the Thunder, 1-4. I know I (and probably most others watching the game) was expecting a good old-fashioned ass kicking, and while we did lose, the beating wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

The Hawks jumped out to an early lead, leaving the Thunder in the dust at 0-7. The Thunder scored a couple of baskets but the Hawks stayed out in front, leading 5-16 early on in the first. For all of the first quarter and most of the second, it seemed like the Thunder could not find a play that worked. They missed layups, they missed 15-foot jumpers, they missed free throws, they missed alley-oops, they missed three pointers … and yet somehow the score remained close. At one point I remember being down by five and asking the guy next to me, “doesn’t it seem like we should be losing by more than five points?” He agreed.

Late in the second, the Thunder pulled it together. They made a few steals, sunk a few baskets, and unbelievably went into halftime leading by three points. Nobody thought the lead would last, and ultimately it didn’t, but at early in the fourth quarter the Thunder were actually up by seven. Would it be possible for the Thunder to beat the undefeated, number-one ranked Atlanta Hawks?

No, it would not be possible. The Hawks put all their starters back in and taught the Thunder a little lesson called, “welcome to the NBA.” The Hawks scored 31 in the fourth quarter, taking the ball away from the Thunder at will. A late attempt at that age ol’ classic plan “foul-the-shooter” was too little too late for the Thunder. Mason (Desmond, not my son) hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left that brought the Thunder within 4, and that’s where the game ended (89-85, Hawks).

Sometimes a game’s end score doesn’t reflect the feeling of the night. While the Thunder only lost by four, the game never really felt that close. Even when we were winning it didn’t feel like we were the better team. For two years I watched the OKC Hornets blow third quarters and try fourth-quarter rallies. The Thunder have a similar but slightly inverted approach of building up third quarter leads and then blowing them in the fourth. The Thunder are going to have to learn how to close out games (and get some good draft picks over the next two or three years) to become contenders. ranks the Thunder 25th out of 30 teams — not bad considering at the beginning of the season, we were ranked dead last.

Last night was the first pre-season home game of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Susan and I were there to experience it. Before last night’s game against the Thunder our record stood at 1-3, and with Marcus Camby and Baron Davis out on sick leave I thought we might have a chance of pulling out another win.

We didn’t, of course, but it was close — 100-98. Not a bad showing for a team that is ranked 30th out of 30, according to ESPN’s power rankings (the Clippers are current ranked 19th). For much of the game, the Thunder showed why they are ranked dead last — dribbling the ball off their feet, having the ball stolen, missing simple lay ups and missing free throw after free throw. At one point in the first quarter the Thunder led 19-18, and then we trailed until late in the 4th. We went up by one, maybe two points near the end, but a string of missed free throw opportunities ensured our defeat. Down by 5 in the last few seconds, Petro threw up a hail mary three pointer that dropped, making the score closer than the game really was.

One thing I want to mention is that there were at least two fouls, definitely one, that I thought should have been flagrant fouls. One was just hard, the other was flagrant, and neither was called as flagrant. It is obvious the Thunder will need to earn some respect on the court this year.

In one of the greatest half time shows ever, the Thunder pulled twenty people from the crowd and let them attempt to dunk basketballs by running across the court and launching themselves off a trampoline. I am positive whoever came up with this idea did not run it by the organization’s lawyers — what an insurance nightmare! One fellow ran directly into the trampoline, bashing his shins and hobbling away. Another fellow missed the trampoline altogether; one guy jumped straight up and almost missed the landing mat. Of the twenty, five were really good and made it to the next round. Later, those five were on court doing flips and throwing shirts out into the crowd, leading me to believe that 15 of the 20 were real people and those 5 were plants. So many people almost hurt themselves doing this and I can’t imagine they will ever do it again.

In a great big “duh” moment, the Thunder cheerleaders (formerly known as the “Thunder Dance Team”) came out to announce that they have picked a new name which they would to reveal to the crowd after a big countdown. “Five, four, three, two, one … THUNDERGIRLS.” Wow, that’s it? The Thundergirls? It took them a month to come up with that one? When they came out on the court I said to Susan, “Here come the Thundergirls.” It took me less than a second to come up with it.

Thanks to Susan for going and Mom for babysitting.