Archive - November 2017

Thunder hit a new low, losing to Magic 121-108, recap/notes:

A new low, as the Oklahoma City Thunder dropped an ugly one to the Orlando Magic, 121-108. It was night with a lack of effort defensively from the Thunder, and too many stretches where Oklahoma City just could not get a bucket. With this win, the Magic snap a 9-game losing streak, as the Thunder have now lost three in a row. Those three losses are to the Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, and Orlando Magic.

Tonight began with a slow start offensively for Oklahoma City, as they found themselves down double digits quickly. They also turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter, four of those from Russell Westbrook.

The Magic put up 31 first quarter points, and that really set the tone on how this game was going to go. They caught fire and from there on never looked back.

Even when the offense was rolling, particularly in the second quarter, the Thunder just couldn’t get stops on the other end. The Magic put up 28-plus points in all four quarters, shooting almost 60 percent from the floor.

Aaron Gordon led the way for Orlando, putting up 40 points along with 15 rebounds. Steven Adams was in foul trouble all night, and Gordon took advantage.

Adams only played 10 first half minutes with foul trouble, and the Thunder defense was very bad when he went to the bench throughout the game.

The game began to get out of hand after a dismal third quarter offensive performance by the Thunder. They went four and a half minutes of game time late in the third without a point, and Orlando responded by expanding their lead to double digits.

“I thought we made some strides offensively, like to see us with a little more stamina and consistency for the 48 minutes,” Billy Donovan said.

“But again, 108 points with the way we play defense is normally a pretty good number” Donovan said.

For perspective on how bad Thunder were at times on offense, there was a stretch in the third quarter that span into the fourth quarter where Oklahoma City missed 17 of their 18 shot attempts. Orlando found themselves up 20 early in the fourth quarter and cruised the rest of the way.

Even with those offensive woes, Donovan is right in 108 points should be enough. But as bad as the offense was at times, the defense was just not there for most of the game.

Westbrook gave it all he had in the fourth quarter, hitting five of his six three-point attempts and attacking relentlessly. He finished the night with 37 points, 20 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.

After the game, the broadcast showed a very dejected Westbrook sitting on the bench as the rest of the team headed to the locker room. It seems this really rough start to the season could be taking its tolls on the team.

At some point, the Thunder have to figure something out. With them being 20 games in, this is the time teams start to find an identity but with this team, it doesn’t feel that way. Thunder now have a few tough games ahead and could find themselves on a bad losing streak if they do not put something together quickly. Up next is the Minnesota Timberwolves at home, who have defeated the Thunder twice this season by a combined five points.

Keys to the game

Rebound: A

Rebounding was not the problem tonight, even with Adams in foul trouble. The Thunder out rebounded the Magic by 11, and grabbed a massive 21 offensive rebounds as the Magic only got two. Usually in these type of games, the Thunder win comfortably, but the defense made this outcome different.

Less is more: F

The Thunder once again gave up way too many points, and found themselves on the losing end. The defense was hard to watch at times, with it being an effort problem more than anything on that side of the ball. As Oklahoma City gave up 121 points tonight, they now are 1-8 when giving up 100 points or more.

Get to the line: B

Oklahoma City did get to the line 30 times, with them attacking the rim very well in the first half. But that changed in the second half as they started to settle way too much, leading to them going cold and Magic blowing this game open.

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Thunder Game Day No. 20: at Orlando Magic

Oklahoma City Thunder (8-11, 2-8 away) vs. Orlando Magic (8-13, 4-4 home)

Wednesday, Nov. 29 :: 6:00 p.m. CST :: Amway Center (18,846)

Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 6-point favorite. The over/under is 212½.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Notes: Thunder: here | Magic: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Things are melting down in Oklahoma City. What’s a good recipe for quelling a meltdown? The Orlando Magic. They welcome the Thunder to the Amway Center tonight.
  • The Orlando Magic are struggling much worse than the Thunder, despite what most may be thinking in Thunder town. The Magic have lost nine in a row.
  • Oklahoma City has lost four of the last five heading into tonight’s match up.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE Pistons

  • The Orlando Magic are 8-13 on the season, 12th in the Eastern Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Magic are an abysmal 1-9, worst in the NBA.
  • In their previous game, the Orlando Magic lost to the Indiana Pacers 121-109.
  • In their season series last year, the teams split their series. Each team won on the road.
  • In their all-time series, the Thunder lead the Magic 34-22.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder lead the Magic 12-6.
  • When games are played in Orlando, the Thunder are 5-4. Oklahoma City owns a three-game winning streak in Orlando.
  • Injury Report:
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Orlando came on Nov. 8, 2009, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 102-74 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (23 points) vs. Orlando occurred during an 88-111 loss on Feb. 25, 2011.

NEW FACES

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder added a bunch of new faces this year.
  • Paul George was acquired on June 30 for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.
  • Carmelo Anthony joins the Thunder after Oklahoma City sent Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick to the Knicks for Anthony.
  • Oklahoma City also signed Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson via free agency.
  • Terrance Ferguson was drafted in the first round out of Australia.
  • Oklahoma City also added PJ Dozier, undrafted rookie out of South Carolina to a two-way deal.

Injury Report

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy for tonight’s game.

Next Up

  • Oklahoma City begins 18 games over a stretch of 33 days leading up to New Year’s Eve against Dallas.
  • The Thunder host the Minnesota Timberwolves, who the Thunder have lost to twice this season, will be in Oklahoma City on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
  • Oklahoma City hosts the Spurs on Sunday, Dec. 3. A 6 p.m. tip-off is scheduled.

Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

Oklahoma City’s rebounding is more imperative than ever. They’re 5-0 when they out rebound their opponents. That’s something Oklahoma City is going to need to do again.

Less is more

Oklahoma City is 1-7 when they give up 100 points. The Thunder are needing to keep the Magic under the 100-point mark. Oklahoma City allows 100 points, this game could be a toss up.

Get to the line

Oklahoma City has done a good job getting to the line during their last two wins. The Thunder are 5-2 when they attempt more free throws than their opponent. Maybe that’s something they can do tonight. Since November started, the Thunder have gotten to the line a lot more. They’re averaging five more attempts per game than in October.

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How hot is Billy Donovan’s seat?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are riding the struggle bus and for some the first place blame goes to is the head coach. Even Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said at practice on Monday, he’s to blame (along with others). While everyone blames Donovan for the inefficiencies the Thunder have faced this season, how hot is Donovan’s seat?

Before the firing of Earl Watson three games into this season, no NBA head coach had been fired since May 2016, a streak of 533 days. He was the first coach to be fired in season since Derek Fisher was fired from the Knicks job in Feb 2016. There had been his weird continuity with organizational leadership and coaching stability. However, that’s out the window. Since the start of the season, two coaches have been fired (Fizdale Memphis and Watson Phoenix). There might be more on the way (see: Fred Hoiberg Chicago and Budenholzer Atlanta).

The NBA is so much different than the NFL. Most NFL coaches are fired on what they call “Black Monday.” The NBA owners react without care of public perception. They strike without justifying their terminations. The stability in which we’ve seen in the last year or so is really an anomaly of it all. In the last 10 seasons, there have been nine Coach of the Year winners (Poppovich won twice). Five have been fired. Not resigned. Fired. So, this is truly a league of what have you done for me lately.

With David Fizdale gone in Memphis, many in Oklahoma City perked up an eye, maybe calling for him to come to Oklahoma City. That’s not happening. Well, at least in mid-season. We’re at the point in the season, which is any point past training camp through the end of the regular season, to where no organization in their right mind would bring in an outside coach. They would just promote an assistant to an interim position.

So, if the Thunder were going to can Donovan, it would be assumed that Mo Cheeks, the only coach on the staff with prior head coaching experience to step in and take the reigns. Cheeks has won over 600 games and was fired in Detroit for one season after going 21-29. The NBA sometimes doesn’t make any sense.

However, what does make sense is the Thunder front office. They’re known for their patience and their timing. They waited until the end of the season to fire Scott Brooks, despite still winning 45 games. They did dismiss PJ Carlesimo after only 13 games, when the Thunder started 1-12. Presti said at the time of the Carlesimo firing: “There’s accountability for everybody involved — players, coaches, myself and anyone involved with our basketball team. We understand that.”

Firing a coach may not always lead to results. The last five coaches in season (not counting Fizdale) have seen difference of success. Jay Triano, who stepped in for the fire Earl Watson in Phoenix is 7-11 during his tenure this season. Which is nice considering the Suns started out 0-3, losing by massive margins. However, Phoenix is only 3-7 in their last 10 games.

When Derek Fisher was let go by the All-Star break in 2016, Kurt Rambis stepped in and went 5-12 to start his campaign. He finished an abysmal 9-19.

The Rockets let hall of fame player, Kevin McHale, go 11 games into the season that same year. Houston was 4-7 at the time. J.B. Bickerstaff, the same guy who’s been named interim in Memphis, was named interim in Houston. Bickerstaff went 37-34 over his time in Houston that season.

Not everyone is fired for performance issues. Mike Malone was fired 24 games into the 2014-15 season. Sacramento would go on in the middle of the season to lose 12 of 13 games under Tyrone Corbin, former Utah Jazz head coach.

Mike Brown has been fired twice, despite turning out excellent resumes. He won 41 games in the strike shorten season with Los Angeles. However, the Laker’s management cited lack of patience as a reason why they canned the former Cavs coach. Before that, Cleveland let him go as LeBron bolted for Miami despite him winning 66 and 61 games the previous two seasons. Mike D’Antoni replaced Brown, going 40-32 for the rest of the season as that was the last time the Lakers made the playoffs.

So, there are tons of reasons why coaches get fired. Donovan falls under the lack of performance one. However, the chances of Donovan getting canned mid-season are slim. The Thunder with all of the up in the air issues with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, you cannot risk firing a coach and forcing a start over of sorts with players who might not want to play for an uncertain coach.

Then again, they could and I could have typed all of this for nothing.

 

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Thunder Game Day No. 19: at Dallas Mavericks

Oklahoma City Thunder (8-10, 2-7 away) vs. Dallas Mavericks (4-15, 2-9 away)

Saturday, Nov. 25 :: 7:30 p.m. CST :: American Airlines Center (20,000)

TV: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27, U-Verse 751/1751 HD)
Online Streamhere.
RadioWWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 6-point favorite. The over/under is 203.5.
Notes: Thunder: here | Mavericks: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Golden State win is no more. Oklahoma City lost last night and are on the verge of causing real panic. So, the Thunder will travel to Dallas to play the Mavericks in hopes of righting the ship.
  • Oklahoma City is off to their worst start since 2014-15 when they start the season 5-13.
  • The Dallas Mavericks are off to a horrible start as well, it’s their worst start since starting the season 3-17 in 1996.
  • Oklahoma City won the first meeting with Dallas on Nov. 12, a 112-99 decision.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for game updates.

SCOUTING THE Mavericks

  • The Dallas Mavericks are 4-15, worst record in the Western Conference.
  • Dallas beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
  • In their last 10 games, the Mavericks are 3-7.
  • In the all-time series, Oklahoma City leads Dallas 80-71.
  • Since moving to Oklahoma City, the series is a Thunder 20-13 advantage.
  • When playing at the American Airlines Center, the Thunder are only 8-8.
  • Oklahoma City won the first meeting 112-99 on Nov. 12.
  • Injury Report:
    Josh McRoberts (lower body) is a game-time decision.
    Seth Curry (lower leg) is out.
    Dorian Finney-Smith (knee) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over the Mavericks came on Feb. 4, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 112-91 (21-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (23 points) vs. Dallas occurred during an 86-109 loss on March 16, 2014.

NEW FACES

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder added a bunch of new faces this year.
  • Paul George was acquired on June 30 for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.
  • Carmelo Anthony joins the Thunder after Oklahoma City sent Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick to the Knicks for Anthony.
  • Oklahoma City also signed Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson via free agency.
  • Terrance Ferguson was drafted in the first round out of Australia.
  • Oklahoma City also added PJ Dozier, undrafted rookie out of South Carolina to a two-way deal.

OK3

  • The trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for 5,992 total points last season, which is the most by any other set of three teammates in the league this year. They are followed by Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler (5,810 combined points) and Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas, LeBron James and Derrick Rose (5,307 combined points).

Anthony moving up the ranks

  • Carmelo Anthony currently ranks 24th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (24,498 points) and fourth among active players behind Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Vince Carter.
  • Anthony is also one of six players in league history alongside Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce to record 24,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, 2,500 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 three-point field goals.

Turnover a New Leaf

  • Through the first ten games of the season, Oklahoma City leads the league in both steals per game (10.60) and opponent turnovers per game (19.0).
  • The Thunder has yet to finish within the Top 5 in the NBA in these categories since they moved to Oklahoma City as their previous season bests were 8.28 steals per game in 2012-13 and 15.2 opponent turnovers per game in 2013-14.
  • Additionally, the Thunder tops the NBA leaderboard for deflections per game (19.2) and forced turnovers on 19.6% of opponent possessions, which tops the league.
  • Paul George ranks first in the league in deflections per game (4.8) and in steals per game (2.40)

Adamsant Scorer

  • Steven Adams currently ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (.676, 48-71 FG).
  • On Oct. 27 at Minnesota, Adams went 8-for-8 through the third quarter, which is his personal best start from the field.
  • As a point of reference, the Thunder record from the floor is held by Serge Ibaka when he went 12-for-12 on 1/31/14.
  • He has scored in double figures in six of the first seven games and led the team in rebounding four times while posting four double-doubles.

Injury Report

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are relatively healthy at this point.

Still good odds

  • According to Sportsbook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the sixth best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
  • They have the fourth best odds to win the Western Conference behind, the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, and the Warriors.

Next Up

  • Oklahoma City wraps up the month by going to Orlando on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
  • The Thunder will host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 1.

Three Keys to the Game

Shoot well

The Thunder need to hit Lawler’s law. The Mavericks are a cool 0-11 when they allow 100 points. On the flip side of all of that, the Thunder are 7-4 when they get to the 100-point mark. If the Thunder shoot well and everyone gets their opportunities, the Thunder roll.

Share the ball

Like rebounding, sharing the ball can be key. Oklahoma City is a cool 5-2 when Russell Westbrook has 10 or more assists. If the MVP gets 10, you might as well chalk up a W tonight. Hopefully he doesn’t try to do it all tonight.

Big Three Do well

The Thunder’s big three haven’t performed well lately. Oklahoma City has to find a way to get all three on the same page. They were really bad in the second half vs. Detroit. Let’s see if they can to snowball into something good.

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Thunder Game Day No. 18: vs. Detroit Pistons

Oklahoma City Thunder (8-9, 6-2 home) vs. Detroit Pistons (11-6, 4-4 away)

Friday, Nov. 24 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)

TV: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27)
Online Streamhere.
RadioWWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 8-point favorite. The over/under is 202½.
Notes: Thunder: here | Pistons: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder welcome Reggie Jackson and the Detroit Pistons into Chesapeake Energy Arena after that thrilling blowout on Wednesday night.
  • Oklahoma City is 8-1 all-time against Detroit at the Peake. The lone loss came in 2014-15 season when Detroit beat the Thunder in overtime without Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
  • The Detroit Pistons come into tonight’s game, surprisingly second int he Eastern Conference. Detroit has thrived at home, going 7-2.
  • Oklahoma City is 3-3 vs. Detroit in their last six games.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s game will be on ESPN for those not in the Oklahoma City market.
  • You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for game updates.

SCOUTING THE Pistons

  • The Detroit Pistons are 11-6 on the season, second in the Eastern Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Pistons are only 6-4.
  • In their previous game, Detroit lost to 116-88 on Monday night.
  • Last season, Oklahoma City and Detroit split their regular season series, both winning at home.
  • In their all-time series against the Pistons, Oklahoma City is 68-65.
  • Since relocation happened, the Thunder are 13-4 against Detroit.
  • Oklahoma City at the Peake is 8-1 all-time. The lone loss came in 2014-15 season when Detroit beat the Thunder in overtime without Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
  • This is Reggie Jackson’s second return to the Peake since being traded. He went 4-of-16 shooting last time he was here.
  • Injury Report:
    John Leuer (ankle) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Detroit came on Jan. 23, 2012, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 99-79 (20-point margin of victory). Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (16 points) vs. Detroit occurred during a 88-104 loss on Nov. 14, 2016.

NEW FACES

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder added a bunch of new faces this year.
  • Paul George was acquired on June 30 for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.
  • Carmelo Anthony joins the Thunder after Oklahoma City sent Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick to the Knicks for Anthony.
  • Oklahoma City also signed Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson via free agency.
  • Terrance Ferguson was drafted in the first round out of Australia.
  • Oklahoma City also added PJ Dozier, undrafted rookie out of South Carolina to a two-way deal.

OK3

  • The trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for 5,992 total points last season, which is the most by any other set of three teammates in the league this year. They are followed by Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler (5,810 combined points) and Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas, LeBron James and Derrick Rose (5,307 combined points).

Anthony moving up the ranks

  • Carmelo Anthony currently ranks 24th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (24,478 points) and fourth among active players behind Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Vince Carter.
  • Anthony is also one of six players in league history alongside Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce to record 24,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, 2,500 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 three-point field goals.

Turnover a New Leaf

  • Through the first ten games of the season, Oklahoma City leads the league in both steals per game (10.60) and opponent turnovers per game (19.0).
  • The Thunder has yet to finish within the Top 5 in the NBA in these categories since they moved to Oklahoma City as their previous season bests were 8.28 steals per game in 2012-13 and 15.2 opponent turnovers per game in 2013-14.
  • Additionally, the Thunder tops the NBA leaderboard for deflections per game (19.2) and forced turnovers on 19.6% of opponent possessions, which tops the league.
  • Paul George ranks first in the league in deflections per game (4.8) and in steals per game (2.40)

Adamsant Scorer

  • Steven Adams currently ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (.676, 48-71 FG).
  • On Oct. 27 at Minnesota, Adams went 8-for-8 through the third quarter, which is his personal best start from the field.
  • As a point of reference, the Thunder record from the floor is held by Serge Ibaka when he went 12-for-12 on 1/31/14.
  • He has scored in double figures in six of the first seven games and led the team in rebounding four times while posting four double-doubles.

Injury Report

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy for tonight’s game.

Still good odds

  • According to Sportsbook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the sixth best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
  • They have the fourth best odds to win the Western Conference behind, the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, and the Warriors.

Next Up

  • On Sunday night, Oklahoma City travels to Dallas for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off against the Mavericks.
  • Oklahoma City wraps up the month by going to Orlando on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
  • The Thunder will host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 1.

Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

Oklahoma City’s rebounding is more imperative than ever. They’re 5-0 when they out rebound their opponents. That’s something Oklahoma City is going to need to do again. When you look at Detroit, they’re just as successful when out rebounding their opponent. Detroit is 7-1 when they do. So, Oklahoma City has to win this battle tonight.

Less is more

Detroit is nearly unbeatable when they score at least 100 points. They’re 10-2 when they do and only 1-4 when they don’t. Oklahoma City is 1-7 when they give up 100 points. The Thunder need to find a way to hold this Pistons team that’s averaging 104 points to under 100 points.

Get to the line

Oklahoma City has done a good job getting to the line during their last two wins. The Thunder are 5-2 when they attempt more free throws than their opponent. Maybe that’s something they can do tonight. Since November started, the Thunder have gotten to the line a lot more. They’re averaging five more attempts per game than in October.

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Real Plus/Minus: OKC stops Warriors

The Oklahoma City Thunder put it all together nicely for four quarters, as they got a dominant 108-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors. It was a nice surprise, as the Thunder didn’t blow their big lead, and kept Golden State out of striking distance for the majority of the game.

PLUS

Jerami Grant

Jerami Grant was great early on the defensive side of the ball. Grant recorded two blocks on Kevin Durant that were at a crucial time that added to the crowd’s intensity. Grant has been fantastic this season off the bench that has been a tremendous asset for Coach Billy Donovan to unleash with either Paul George, Carmelo Anthony or Russell Westbrook in the second unit.

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook was at his very very best against the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook played 36:56 minutes shooting 13-of-27 for a season-high 34 points on 48.1 percent shooting with 10 rebounds and nine assists. It wasn’t just Westbrook’s offense that was a factor it was his defensive efforts especially early in the third quarter when Westbrook got back to back defensive stops leading to two buckets. Westbrook’s energy was immense for his team he set the tone early and continued it for 48 minutes and his team, and his fans thrived off it, and the Warriors were terrified.

Paul George

Last season Russell Westbrook had big games against the Warriors, and it mattered none as the warriors would go on and win by 20, this season Westbrook had help in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, but it was George that was Westbrook’s biggest weapon. George played 39:45 minutes scoring 20 points on 8-of-19 on 42.1 percent with 11 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks. George has been tremendous from three-point range this year as he went 4-of-10 from three George has credited Westbrook for his uplift in three-point shooting but George is precisely what the Thunder ordered for Westbrook, and it is slowly coming together, and they are looking lethal.

Free throws

This season the Thunder have had issues on defense when they have had significant leads letting teams off the hook by fouling the shooters or by putting them into the bonus and putting the opposition on the free throw line. Against the Warriors, the Thunder only put the Warriors on the line 18 times that was a big win for the Thunder and their defense. The Thunder were able to get to the line themselves 26 times shooting 69.2 percent with Russell Westbrook getting to the line eight times making seven of them making 87.5 percent.

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Russell Westbrook shines in blow out

Kevin Durant pressed his forehead against Russell Westbrook’s. The two exchanged pleasantries and a game that was on the edge of falling back into the same format the NBA has seen for three years changed. Russell Westbrook smiled and the Thunder blew out the Golden State Warriors.

No, not blown out. The Oklahoma City Thunder dominated the Warriors.

“That’s my game,” Westbrook said. “I feel like that’s my gift. To be able to come out every single night to use my energy, my enthusiasm to be able to keep my team and our team going.”

The Warriors were as cold on the basketball court as the temperature in Oklahoma City. That’s a large part due to the Thunder’s suffocating defense. They switched with mechanical precision. So, when Golden State made a run in the third quarter, it was Westbrook he stepped up and said no.

Westbrook shook his head after knocking the ball out of Durant’s hands. Westbrook and Durant came together as if a cosmic shift of 16 months waiting to explode. Durant backing away after calling Westbrook a name reminded you of a kid who had to be told to hold him back as Westbrook’s scowl is that of one who actually had to be held back and him tell them he’s cool.

Durant’s next possession down the floor saw the former Thunder player dribble off his foot and out of bounds. Oklahoma City came down, Paul George would hit a shoulder shimmy three. Oklahoma City led by 23 just like that. They never looked back.

“I’m coming at your neck every single night,” Westbrook told ESPN during post-game interview. “and I’m gonna let him know that.”

It was at that moment the game was over. When Durant backed away from Westbrook’s confrontation, the game was over. Oklahoma City had the moxie to finish off the game.

“I think tonight shows who we can be, who we want to be and who we think we can be,” Carmelo Anthony said.

Anthony, who scored 16 in the first half was wide open on numerous of his makes in the first half, who you can credit Westbrook’s aggressiveness for helping on that. Westbrook starting being aggressive, going to the rim. Steph Curry started out trying to guard Westbrook but quickly switched onto Andre Roberson. With Westbrook going to the rim, the Thunder’s lead ballooned.

“I go out and compete at a high level,” Westbrook said. “I go out and play at a high level. I’ve been saying that since Day 1 and that’s what I do.”

Compete he sure did. The dust settled and Westbrook led all scores with 34 points on 15-of-27 shooting. He also dished out nine assists and pulling down four rebounds.

For the Thunder, it’s really only a single step to where they want to be. Beating the Warriors to take that step is no feat. However, it’s a great way to start.

“Hopefully this starts a run for us,” Raymond Felton said. “We cannot go backwards.”

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Thunder Digits: OKC blows out Warriors at home

The Oklahoma City Thunder put it all together nicely for four quarters, as they got a dominant 108-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors. It was a nice surprise, as the Thunder didn’t blow their big lead, and kept Golden State out of striking distance for the majority of the game. Here are some key and interesting numbers in the Thunder’s big win:

34

To point out the obvious, Russell Westbrook had an amazing game, on both ends of the floor. He put a season-high 34 points, while getting to the rim mercilessly and finishing with reckless abandon. He also finished with 10 rebounds, nine assists along with four steals. You could tell he wanted this win badly, and his performance proved it.

26

Oklahoma City got out to an early lead like they’ve done a lot this year, but this time they kept that lead. Each of the first three quarters, the Thunder increased their lead and never relaxed or let the Warriors have any life. It was a glimpse of what this team is capable of when they put in all the effort for 48 minutes.

11

Thunder in the past have had success against this very good Warriors squad by winning on the glass. Tonight that was no different, as Oklahoma City out-rebounded Golden State by 11 boards, 50 to Warriors’ 39. Oklahoma City also brought down 13 offensive boards, leading to second chance scoring opportunities.

22

Maybe sneakily most important stat of all lost in the Thunder win: they forced Golden State to turn the ball over 22 times. It was achieved by active defense by every single Thunder player, especially Paul George who seem to deflect every pass and had plenty of steals. Oklahoma City had a total of 15 steals, and they will be hard to beat by anyone when they are this active defensively.

76

The big three for Oklahoma City have shown plenty of flashes on what they could be. Tonight, they were locked in all night, and played their best we have seen all season. They combined for 76 total points, Anthony with 22 of those points while George put up 20 himself.

32 

Interestingly enough, the Thunder only shot 32 percent from deep, which is usually not good enough to beat a team like Golden State. They made up for this by defending the three well, getting to the free throw line, and crashing the offensive glass.

37

37 minutes played by Steven Adams, which is about six or seven minutes more than usual this season. Donovan obviously tweaked with the rotations a bit, as hes trying to figure out why Oklahoma City kept blowing early leads. Tonight, he ran Adams with the second unit, and it helped the defense immensely. I bet this is something we see Billy go with again.

+10

Josh Huestis made his mark, who was a plus-10 in the plus/minus category in 17 minutes played. He led the bench in minutes played tonight, and played especially well defensively. He wasn’t much of a presence scoring-wise, but Huestis just seems like a guy who makes the smart play and is reliable enough to do his job when out on the court.

9

If you wonder why Andre Roberson plays so much, this number is here for you: Klay Thompson was held to just nine points on three for 12 shooting from the floor. Roberson can take credit for that quiet night by Klay, as Andre’s defense was superb all night long.

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Warriors Meltdown 11.22.17

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors 108-91 for their first win over the Warriors in almost two years. Russell Westbrook was bananas. The Thunder were amazing and the Warriors meltdown is worth it. They’re not horrible but they’re funny and they definitely credit OKC while bagging on their own team. Enjoy the first Warriors meltdown forever. Here you go:

  • one day, these games against thunder won’t matter so much but for now, let’s shut them down!
  • roberson took 4 damn steps before that shovel pass
  • This is getting feisty! love it!
  • Our ball handling is really horrible
  • Whichever team stops turning it over will take the lead
  • Playing dumb so far
  • Uh-oh. 2 fouls on Durant
  • More home cooking
  • Seriously what has Looney done
  • taken up minutes from Bell and McGee today
  • Do we have to give up 30+ every 1st quarter?
  • Hi Warriors. Play defense
  • This is so painful to watch
  • this is comedy
  • it’s awesome we’re only down single digits
  • It seems like Steph has completely forgotten that OKC is long and that the passing windows are smaller
  • OKC are playing D and they are hustling for loose balls, active hands in passing lanes …. vs. us not doing anything like that!
  • Wish we could just fast forward to the 3rd quarter
  • So OKC kinda sucks. What’s going on here?
  • anthony traveled at least twice on that play
  • WAKE UP
  • refs making their presence felt once again
  • What’s the reason for trailing a significantly inferior opponent
  • Snap out of it !!!!
  • Remember: The Warriors are getting the Thunder’s best shot—the third quarter will tell the story.
  • Ahhh this home officiating
  • Westbrook is like the athletic pinnacle of human existence. Holy shit at that drive and dunk
  • it still amuses me that westbrook can be demonstrative and it’s called being passionate, but green does it and it’s disrespectful
  • Somebody wake me up when the Warriors have a call go their way.
  • Warriors are screwed
  • 95% chance they win this game
  • Warriors keeping it close.
  • gotta weather the storm
  • Kinda feel like they need to get blown out. Cuz they really not playing well at all recently
  • Any other team would be up 20 on the Warriors.
  • Like that?
  • Embarrassing
  • OKC is a bad rebounding team yet they already have 7 off rebounds tonight SMH
  • Andre is a -17, gross
  • Hoping for another 2nd half OKC collapse
  • I’ve been saying OKC is the only team that can beat the dubs in a series
  • OKC announcer: “dribbling unmolested.” Did I hear that right? Lol
  • Warriors are up against the league. That is not something that is easily overcome
  • klay ice cold
  • WTF, Durant?
  • LOL Pack it in. We done here
  • This is a blowout
  • wait how are we getting blown out
  • dubs dont get blown out
  • Warriors, what are you doing???
  • You knew that was going to happen, Dray.
  • f*** these refs
  • What happened to those 2 being cool lol
  • KD needs to calm his ass down , jfc
  • Dubs in their own heads now!
  • Why can’t we hit our shots? Is OKC’s defense THAT good?
  • I’m done. Not going to waste next 15 mins of my life watching us play like sh*t
  • Kerr looks like he checked out of this game about 8 hours ago.
  • Curry deserved that. No energy at all and Russ made him pay
  • Steph never wins a loose ball race, lol….so soft
  • We are playing like a JV team.
  • F***ing Draymond. Stop getting Ts. Kerr, just send him to the locker room
  • George just gave them the shimmy…oh nooo..
  • any reason to be concerned?
  • Westbrook is irrelevant. Let’s go home.
  • LOL Iguodala that wsa horrible
  • Jesus…I have no idea what Iggy just did
  • i hate those lazy one handed passes by steph, i think teams are anticipating those passes….if i were a high school coach, i wouldnt tolerate those lazy passes!
  • Westbrook just clowning us and we’re doing nothing.
  • westbrook gotta chill wins 1 of the last 8 and acts like he’s won the championship lol
  • Westbrook and Melo brought it tonight..
  • You know it’s not your game when Raymond Felton is hitting pullup 22-footers
  • I wish Klay would have shown up to the arena and that Steph would have had a Red Bull before the game
  • Nice game by the Thunder but I’m more unimpressed by the Warriors.
  • lol warriors are getting their asses kicked tonight
  • Kerr is acting like an idiot instead of coaching
  • Overall the foul calls been complete doo doo. But we getting worked anyways
  • Warriors just don’t have “it” so far this year.
  • very happy Westbrook finally got his ring tonight
  • the Thunder got up for the game and the Warriors didn’t
  • just another game? that cliche is wearing thin
  • Pretty sure the warriors will never win again
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Five Thoughts 11-22-17 (Thunder 108, Warriors 91)

1. Well, hopefully everyone feels better now. I mean this in all sincerity and not just in post game euphoria hyperbole: I would rather the Thunder be 8-9 with THAT performance against Golden State as opposed to being 13-4 with a loss tonight. Dead serious about that. The entire point of forming this team was to make a run at the Warriors. Even while acknowledging they’d still be underdogs, this formation’s goal was to be in that conversation. What we needed to see was that they are capable. No one expects this is how every meeting with the Dubs will play out. But we needed to see it— at least once. While it was one game and one game that mattered WAY more to OKC than it did GS, it wasn’t a fluke. There were real, tangible things that happened out there tonight that prove that the Thunder are a totally different team from last year. And a team that can legitimately give GS fits. As far as I’m concerned the other 9 losses can be put on a shuttle and sent to the Moon. They don’t matter. Not saying that the issues that plagued them in those games aren’t real or that they won’t reappear. But now that I’ve seen THAT, I can live with some ups and downs and even some clunkers.

2. Not sure I’ve ever seen the Dubs offense look that out of sync. We put forth an A+ defensive showing tonight. The scheme was great— our guards went over EVERY screen tonight. And Adams or Grant or whoever was guarding the screener also stayed out by the line. We were absolutely not going to allow open looks beyond the arc. The only time the Warriors saw those was on the break or scramble plays. Curry shook loose for a couple of launches, but those really weren’t good shots; can’t do much about it when those drop. When we had them in the half court, they struggled mightily to even get a clean shot off. It was remarkable. Thunder were committed 100% to remaining disciplined to that approach. While scheme is great, you can only do so much if you don’t have the horses to execute it. They could not have deployed this defense last year. They are able to do it now because of PG13. He was ALL OVER KD tonight. This also allowed Andre to slide over to Klay. And as Andre has proven time and again, as long as he isn’t up against a smaller, quicker guard, he can stick to anyone. It was also nice to see RW remain disciplined and not leave Curry to gamble elsewhere. No doubt the Warriors will adjust the next time we play. They will likely play with more urgency. They may very well shoot better. But what we did to them isn’t going away. We have the physical ability to do to them what no one else can do.

3. Mentioning this third is really burying the lead, but Russ was perfect tonight. That was a virtuoso performance. I’ve been saying all year, if you want to panic, go ahead— but call me when Russ gets back on track. If he gets going and we don’t look better, that’s when you should worry. Well, he got going tonight and we beat the Warriors with ease. We are going to be very, very tough to beat on nights where Russ is playing near peak level. And as this season progresses he will play at peak level more and more frequently. While we have three excellent options, this isn’t a democracy. They don’t all need to share the load equally. This is Russ’s team and PG and Melo need to fall in line behind him (in that order). Russ sets the tone, PG delivers stellar two-way performances, and Melo bails out the offense with his ISO game. That needs to be the identity. Russ was insanely aggressive tonight. He didn’t defer- he attacked. When he attacks the ball sharing will happen naturally. When he attacks the opportunities will open up for the others. Prior to tonight I think Russ has been trying to be polite, for lack of a better word. Then once things go a little south he tries to pull them out and it’s just all discombobulated. I don’t know this for sure, but I think both Melo and PG13 are ready to win. My guess is that they are both ok if Russ is the maestro. I’m sure tonight was pretty fun for all three of them. Russ left Curry in his wake tonight. It was a thing of beauty. That needs to be encouraged, not curtailed.

4. Donovan is patient. He doesn’t panic or fly off the handle. I think that’s a good approach to a team of NBA vets over the course of 82 games. I think he’s done his best job so far in his tenure with the Thunder in the bigger games/moments. I’ve mentioned this before, but he won me over in the 2016 playoffs against the Spurs and Warriors. Since then, I’ve always felt he was better in games that were played more like playoff games. I think he gives the guys a lot of room. I think he understands that going in too hard too often can be desensitizing. Tonight he had a plan for this specific opponent. Early in the game, he made a quick switch to Grant— much faster than normal. But he didn’t give up on Adams either. I watched as Adams exited the floor; Donovan walked stride for stride with him and was talking to him for quite awhile. Once Adams went back in, he had an excellent game. By picking your spots, I think you increase the odds of keeping the team motivated and emotionally engaged. You get a pay off on a night like tonight when the team executes the plan and it all works. Everyone files that away and begins to understand THAT is what winning basketball looks like.

5. Effort was off the charts tonight. Everyone is 100% lying when they say it’s just another game. They played it like a Game 7. They needed it. At the end, I thought Andre was going to need a stretcher to leave the court— he was exhausted. Crowd was awesome. It was a 23 point game in the 4th quarter and fans were reacting as if it was tied. This was a total exhale game for everyone involved with the Thunder. It’s been awhile since I left the arena feeling like that. I told my wife it’s like the Thunder waited until tonight to start the season. It would be nice if this propelled them into a winning streak; it’s about time to start making a move up the ladder. But even if things remain a bit rocky, tonight showed what this team CAN be. And now that we’ve seen it, it’s clear that it is worth the wait.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.

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