The Thunder completed their second back-to-back game stretch of the preseason yesterday and split the games. They beat the Houston Rockets on the "road" (in Tulsa, OK) 110-104 and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers at home in a heartbreaker 90-88.
The game against the Rockets provided the Thunder with their first win of the preseason. This game by far has been OKC's best effort so far. They executed well shooting 48.2% from the field, their highest percentage so far. Kevin Durant led the Thunder in scoring with 26 points including 8 of 16 shooting from the field and a near perfect 10 of 11 from the free throw line. Nick Collision came off of the bench to be the #2 scorer with 21 points, and Desmond Mason added 16. Chris Wilcox had a big game, netting a double-double with 14 rebounds and 13 points.
The Thunder shot a tremendous 87.9% from the free throw line, hitting 29 of 33. OKC normally shoots in the lower 70% from the line, and this was the major difference maker in this match-up. Along with Durant, Collision also had a really strong night from the charity stripe, knocking down 9 of 10 attempts.
The two clubs were even after the first quarter, which marks the first time they weren't trailing after the first twelve minutes. The Rockets shot 44.6% from the field which is better than desired but less than the Thunder did, so that's alright. They hit 8 three pointers which was more made than the Thunder attempted (OKC finished 1-7 from behind the arc). All in all it adds up to be even more impressive that the Thunder won this game.
The Clippers game was sadly a different story as OKC played their one and only home game of the preseason. The Thunder didn't shoot quite as well from the field (40.5%) but fortunately were able to hold Los Angeles to the same percentage. Unfortunately, the Clippers got an additional 10 shots from the field.
The Thunder had one of their better 3-point performances of the preseason, hitting 3 of 11. One of the three was a running jumper by Russell Westbrook as time expired to make this a two point loss rather than five. Otherwise this would have been a 2 for 10 performance which is about par for the course.
Durant led the team in scoring for the second straight night. He had 18, and the point-guard combo of Earl Watson and Westbrook tied for second with 14. Overall, the Thunder had six players in the double digits, tops for the preseason and a good sign going forward.
Oklahoma City performed much better in this two-game stretch than the one against the Kings and the Warriors and did so against stronger opponents. The Thunder will now have eight days off before facing the Lakers and Suns in their final two preseason games.