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So Much For That | February
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Alright, I'll admit my mistake. In yesterday's article, that I now regret writing, I discussed the Oklahoma City Thunder's first 50 games of the 2010-2011 NBA season. I pulled out one quote in particular so that you could see the type of power my writing has, especially when it comes to jinxing a team.

"They are 5-0 in overtime and 17-6 in games decided by six points or less. That proves that they are continuing to learn how to win."

After last night, the Thunder are now 5-1 in overtime and 17-7 in games decided by six points or less.

Maybe they are not learning as much as I thought.

The Thunder lost to the Memphis Grizzlies last night, 105-101 in overtime.

But I was right on one thing that the team was once again unable to do. I said that they would need to do something different in an attempt to take Zach Randolph out of the mix. He has destroyed Oklahoma City in the first two meetings between these teams earlier this season, and last night was no different. Randolph finished the game with 31 points and 14 rebounds on stellar shooting from the field and free throw line. Randolph continues to exploit the Thunder's inability to defend against big bodies who can score. Jeff Green is simply not the answer, defensively, against these types of players.

But I cannot pin this loss entirely on Green. Although, he was equally as awful on the offensive end of the floor as well. He finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds, but shot 2-12 from the field and turned the ball over 4 times. But again, it was not all on Green.

The Thunder outrebounded the Grizzlies 58-36 - including 18-6 offensively - which is astronomical. Those types of numbers generally result in victory. But not when you turn it over 23 times, leading to 31 points for the Grizzlies. Those types of numbers will rarely translate into victory.

Perhaps even more disappointing when talking about last night' defeat is that Memphis won this game on the road without a pair of their top players. Rudy Gay sat out with a sprained big right toe, while O.J. Mayo is still serving his 10 game suspension from the league. But it was Mayo's poker flight buddy - Tony Allen - who stepped it up and had one of his best games since joining the Grizzlies this past offseason.

Allen scored a season high 27 points while connecting on 9-12 field goals, 9-12 free throws and playing solid defense. He also had 5 steals and 3 blocks.

But it comes back to one of the problems that the Thunder face more often than not - a lack of overall production from the entire team.

Kevin Durant had 31 points and 10 rebounds. He shot the ball well, although turned it over in overtime with a chance to tie the game. Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds, although he turned the ball over 8 times in the loss. After that, no other starter finished with double figures in points. James Harden had 13 points off the bench, but did so while hitting just 33.3 percent (3-9) of his field goals.

In stark contrast, Memphis had all five of their starters finish in double figures scoring. Two players cannot continue to win games against decent teams. It takes more.



And that brings me to a rumor I heard yesterday. If the Denver Nuggets finally do in fact trade Carmelo Anthony, would they then put other players on the market? The rumor stated that if the Nuggets send Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Andrew Bynum, then the team could entertain offers for Nene. 

The rumor had Oklahoma City sending Green to Denver for Nene, with another player or two involved to make the deal work for salary cap purposes. I like the size that Nene would bring, and he would also bring more offense, which would be nice. But I'm not sure that he is enough of a defensive upgrade to make the deal worth it for the Thunder.

Any thoughts?

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24.





 

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