Another day, another Oklahoma City Thunder loss. The fourth in a row. What in the world has happened to this team? Here are five thoughts on last night’s loss to the Portland Trailblazers.
THOUGHT ONE: RUSS HAS 58 POINTS…AND THE THUNDER LOSE?
For those who are unaware, Russell Westbrook dropped a career high 58 points last night. Why is this amazing?
- It is the most points scored in Oklahoma City/Seattle history.
- More than Kevin Durant (54 points on January 17, 2014), Ray Allen (54 points on January 12, 2007) or Dale Ellis (53 points on November 9, 1989).
- This single-game scoring effort of 58 points is actually tied for 26th all-time in NBA history according to basketball-reference.com.
- He was on fire all night, shooting 58 percent from the floor.
What a shame all this gets filed under L for loss. An obvious — and still frustrating number fact — with the Thunder’s total 121 points (very good), take away Westbrook’s 58 points and you are left with 63 points (very bad) sprinkled amongst his teammates.
THOUGHT TWO: WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS TEAM’S PAINT DEFENSE?
I will be the first one to tell you that Portland possesses some nice talent across the board. With the addition of Jusuf Nurkic, the Trailblazers certainly improved their presence in the paint. Nurkic and Meyers Leonard present interesting matchups but Oklahoma City has a ton of money invested in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter.
The addition of Taj Gibson was supposed to improve an already stout Thunder defense down low. Last night was the opposite of what the Thunder foresaw post-trade deadline.
Portland scored 50 points in the paint to go along with Oklahoma City’s 50. Rebounding — which has universally been as positively constant with this team as Westbrook’s play all year — was near dead even at 39-36 OKC.
It is still early with the new additions so there is still time for the Thunder to right the ship.
THOUGHT THREE: IS STEVEN ADAMS OKAY?
Ever since the Thunder’s exciting win over the Utah Jazz last week, Adams has been…off.
He has had only one double-digit scoring output — a 19 point performance against Dallas, a 20-point loss — to go along with one double-digit rebounding effort.
His defense has also been subpar by the standard we are accustomed to seeing.
Nurkic has bested him in two consecutive games. An athletic center, yes. But Adams is a better player at this point.
THOUGHT FOUR: IT IS SURPRISING TO LOSE TO A TEAM YOU’VE LOST TOO LESS THAN A WEEK AGO
There is no data to support this, just an old fashioned feeling from experience following the game.
Typically when team X loses to team Y on the road and plays team Y at home less than a week later, team X usually comes out victorious. For the first quarter and some of the second, it seemed that opinion would still hold. After a 40-point performance in the first quarter, the Thunder were thoroughly outscored by Portland the rest of the way.
It is a division rival and a team OKC has had trouble with in the past, but it is still a loss that may sting.
THOUGHT FIVE: RUSS’ MVP CHANCES COULD BE SLIPPING
While most Thunder fans can write an epic-Steinbeckian novel as to why Westbrook is the MVP, most outsiders and voters’ decision to proclaim the Oklahoma City point guard as the best player in the league hinges on his triple-double average.
This four-game losing streak has seen that average slip and show signs of falling off all together.
Other than the Phoenix game which saw a 48 point, 17 rebound and nine assist performance from Westbrook, the other three games brought little excitement from anything other than scoring.
This can be attributed to only having Victor Oladipo for one game thus far, teammates going through slumps and just a general, all-around bad run of play. If Westbrook is going to be crowned MVP, the Thunder need to return to their winning ways, teammates need to finish and spread the floor and he will have to continue his stellar play.