3. Once OKC’s stars got rolling, Nets had no answers
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a top-heavy bunch, led by former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook with Paul George — on the short list of MVP contenders this season — taking a leading role as well.
The pair combined for 56 of Oklahoma City’s 108 points in the Thunder’s win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, but didn’t stop there. The duo also had 21 rebounds, 14 assists and five steals, with George blocking two shots for good measure.
They had 27 points in the second half on 10-of-17 combined shooting as OKC outscored Brooklyn 66-44 after intermission.
If there is a weakness on this Nets team, it is the absence of players of the caliber of a Westbrook or a George who can take over a game for an extended period.
Spencer Dinwiddie is capable of putting a team on his back, as is D’Angelo Russell, but neither Brooklyn standout can be counted on to do that on a night-in, night-out basis at this point in their careers.
And when the Nets needed someone to step up against the onslaught, the team responded by shooting just 35 percent in the second half, getting worked over in the paint by a 30-10 margin and giving up a 13-2 advantage off second-chance opportunities.
Throw in (or away, in this case) Brooklyn’s nine turnovers in the second half to just two by OKC — leading to a 12-2 disparity in scoring off turnovers — and the Nets lost every key small battle on the way to blowing a double-digit lead for just the second time since Dec. 5 after squandering eight such leads in losses over the season’s first 26 games.