Thunder 122, Rockets 104
The Thunder beat the Rockets for the first time in 14 tries last night, dominating them thoroughly from start to finish. However, overall, I’m not concerned at all by the outcome as we were extremely short-handed, playing without Shane Battier, Jordan Hill, and Jared Jeffries. Hilton Armstrong saw time in the 1st half which should be enough reason to throw this game out from any type of analytical consideration.
- Aaron Brooks has really been struggling in his last 4 games, going 4-12 for 10 points against Boston, 6-13 for 16 points against the Knicks, 3-17 for 9 points against the Bulls, and 3-12 for 11 points against the Thunder. Part of me attributes the struggles to fatigue – Brooks has been carrying this team for some time and was bound to come back to earth. The smarter part of me fears the problems stem from the matchups. His only acceptable game in the last four was against Tony Douglas and the Knicks. In the other three, he faced budding stars who were all 6′4 or close to it (sidenote: remember the hullabaloo when it was discovered that Derrick Rose wasn’t actually 6′4 but rather 6′3.75 or whatever it was, and the end of the world seemed imminent?). Aaron Brooks is a fine player, but this is why I still feel this team needs an upgrade somewhere to seriously consider itself a contender next year. Kevin Martin–to my surprise–and Luis Scola, both get all of their points quietly in the flow of the game; they aren’t go-to players. Despite the FT shooting, Yao is about as unclutch as it gets (I’m sorry, it’s true.) As it stands, Aaron Brooks is this team’s undisputed closer and that just won’t cut it. I love him, I’m not criticizing him, but he’s maxing out his capabilities. These are the types of matchups he will have to face in the playoffs and I’m concerned. Steve Blake doesn’t even play for the Blazers anymore.
- Ariza had another great game, scoring 20 points on 8-14 shooting. He ran the floor, cut backdoor, and overall just looked oh-so-good offensively. We basically traded for Trevor Ariza too in the Landry-Martin deal.