Author - Brady Trantham

OKC falls late in Washington 102-96

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s (30-21) NBA leading eight game winning streak came to an end tonight in Washington D.C. as the Wizards (28-22) made plays in the end to win 102-96.

Russell Westbrook had an up-and-down game which saw the reigning MVP record a flagrant foul, a technical foul and shoot 28 percent from the floor. With the Thunder’s leader having an inconsistent night, the burden fell on Paul George to pick up the slack.

The newest addition to the 2018 All-Star Game did not disappoint. George was magnificent in the first half, scoring 28 points on 8-12 shooting. Whether it was spot-up shooting, handling the basketball or defending, George kept Oklahoma City afloat after a sluggish start.

Sadly, that was going to be all.

George only attempted two shots after halftime and zero in the fourth. The Thunder offense went stagnant late when Oklahoma City held a two-possession lead under four minutes. Carmelo Anthony (19 points on 7-of-21 shooting) and Westbrook couldn’t get to the line or make a shot late.

“I thought the difference in the game was that we didn’t execute well down the stretch,” Billy Donovan said in the postgame. “We just didn’t have very good quality of possessions and it got us in the end.”

The Wizards were playing without All-Star John Wall who underwent a knee scope procedure today. Bradley Beal scored 21 points and Otto Porter, Jr. added 25.

Oklahoma City was bad from deep, finishing the game 9-for-32 from beyond the arc.

The Thunder turned the ball over 20 times and only notched 19 assists. The Wizards took care of the ball, only surrendering the ball 12 times and adding 27 assists.

“We turned the ball over too much,” Donovan added. “Overall we just didn’t execute well.”

It was an uphill battle from the start. The Wizards hit their first four three pointers in the first quarter and led by as many as nine. It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that the Thunder were able to tie or take the lead. From then, both teams would go on small mini-runs.

Limit Threes A

The Wizards hit their first four shots from deep but only made three the rest of the game. Forcing their opponent to 28 percent is nothing to sneeze at. Josh Huestis, George and Jerami Grant did a fantastic job of closing out and forcing the Wizards into tough shots.

Bench B

The Wizards won the bench battle 23-20 but Oklahoma City’s bench was greatly hindered by Raymond Felton having a bad shooting night. Felton was 0-for-4 and finished with four points and three assists. Huestis, who played great defense for most of the night, had a bad ending to the game where he committed a turnover and fouled the ball-handler in the bonus. From there, Washington never looked back.

Rebound A

OKC won the battle on the boards, notching 52 boards and 14 offensive rebounds — Steven Adams had six offensive boards. The Thunder lost this game due to poor offense late, turnovers and some inconsistent officiating. Rebounding, perimeter defense and bench production had little to do with it.

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Why Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is important for Oklahoma

Today Americans remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We will remember his fight, his dream, his tragedy. Today we will also be dazzled, awed and entertained by the athletic exploits of fantastic NBA players like Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

While we sit cheering in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, or in our own homes with eyes glued to the TV screen, the importance of today must not be forgotten.

The life and works of Dr. King have been romanticized and ingrained into our cultural psyche so much that you would be hard pressed to meet someone who has not heard the words, “I have a dream…” By now, these words are as American as “Oh, say can you see,” or Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s father.

So, on this national holiday commemorating solidarity, tragedy, and civil rights, what does basketball have to do with any of it? More specifically, why–in Oklahoma–is it important that basketball be played today?

Let me first commit the writing sin of putting myself in the article. If you’ve heard our ‘Peake & Roll Podcast, you know my story. I have lived all over the map due to being an Air Force brat, and have been fortunate to meet and see many different people and places. I always knew however, no matter where I was in the world, that Oklahoma was my home.

With that knowledge came some hard truths, some factual and others downright ignorant.

Yes, Oklahoma is sometimes referred to as a “fly-over” state. It lies in the middle of the country with no exotic beaches, no media-heavy metropolises, no ultra-desirable climate bringing outsiders in droves. Oklahoma is also, according to the 2010 U.S Census, 72 percent white. Having been recognized as a state post-Civil War, I once thought–as many people I know still do–that Oklahoma is somehow only proxy or tangential to the major Civil Rights events.

It is true that the history of Civil Rights in Oklahoma is not as well-known as monumental events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the murder of Emmett Till. Even to a native like me, some of these historical events that involved the harsh and brutal treatment of black men, women, and children in Oklahoma are not well-known. But that does not mean they did not happen, or that it is acceptable to remain ignorant of them. King died for his dream. The least we can do is live with his reality.

I encourage many of you to check out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s book Writings on the Wall.

In the book, Abdul-Jabbar quotes The History Boys, his favorite movie. Though the author and former NBA player was not referring to MLK day, his chosen quote seems particularly apt for this day as well:

..there is no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it.”

Some may view Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a date on the calendar. An extra day off work. A day to sit and enjoy a game. A reminder of the poor treatment of black-Americans in other states years ago. A day where we try to forget the terrible past in a feeble attempt to move forward.

Contrary to my ignorance earlier in life, Oklahoma has a rich history of Civil Rights events. Both tragedies and important wins. Let’s not forget them.

1921: the Tulsa Race Massacr. A deplorable mark on our state’s history that incurred the murder of as many as 300 Tulsans and left over 10,000 homeless, according to the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, OK.

1958: a sit-in organized by a local school teacher named Clara Luper at the Katz Drug Store at 200 W Main in Oklahoma City saw 13 of her school children courageously endure verbal threats, slurs and physical attacks in a non-violent act of protest. After two days of alternating turns at the counter, an employee finally served a hamburger to one of the kids, which opened the door for desegregation.

1961: the Dowell v. School Board of Oklahoma City Public Schools lawsuit in which Alphonso Dowell took legal action to allow his son, Robert, to attend Northeast High School.

These are but three examples. However, most of these I did not learn of through schools or any official histories. What else is there? How can we know? There are certainly countless testimonies of experiences from black Oklahomans that have been forgotten or kept silent. It is important to acknowledge those voices with Oklahoman kindness and compassion, lest we forget.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day does not solely apply to the South. It is not exclusive to large, urban areas like Chicago, New York City or Los Angeles. It is an American holiday that applies to Americans, no matter the color of your skin or your cultural background. It applies to Oklahoma and Oklahomans, too.

What the NBA does by playing games on this day is bring awareness. This is a league that is populated by 74 percent black players, and 82 percent players of color according to the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports. Many of whom have experienced prejudice in both direct and more subtle ways. While basketball is entertainment for fans, it is important to remember that is a league played by human beings with real experiences.

I challenge you to think.

Read the state’s local history and engage with your neighbors and fellow Thunder fans. Help bring about a better understanding of the state’s past with its black citizens and residents of color so that future generations can be spared the ignorance many of us grew up with today and never repeat these tragedies.

Look no further than NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s comments in a recent piece fromESPN. “Sports continue to be a unique opportunity to unite people, and it is a place where there is a rare sense of equality,” Silver said speaking to reporters at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, “The 50th anniversary of King’s death is an impetus to continue pushing forward.”

Lastly, this piece is not here to shame anyone.

No one should look to the past in shame, for if you categorize your community’s history as such it could prove difficult to push forward, improve and become a better person/community as a result. This includes whites, blacks… simply Oklahomans.

By commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, in addition to enjoying the Thunder take on the Sacramento Kings, let us not forget that there is still work to be done by all of us.

Basketball has brought us together. Now let’s take the home court advantage and become a better people as a result.



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Thunder crumble in 2nd 104-88 to Minnesota

For the third game in a row and the second night of a back-to-back, the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-20) failed to make the plays necessary to win in the second half.

After losing by 11 to Portland on Tuesday, the Thunder stumbled on the road in Minnesota (27-16) by 16, 104-88. The second half woes that Oklahoma City was able to overcome in December seem to be coming back to haunt the team this month.

The Thunder ran even with the Timberwolves in the first half, tying the game at 47 after being down 12-2 early in the 1st quarter. The 3rd quarter saw the same Oklahoma City team from the previous night, outscored 34-25 by the Trailblazers, being outscored 29 to 18 to open the second half. Minnesota never looked back.

Russell Westbrook finished with 38 points, on 15-of-23 shooting, 10 rebounds and only five assists. The reigning MVP, who left the arena prior to media responsibilities the previous night, played with obvious frustration and didn’t look for teammates as often as he has been since the beginning of December.

Paul George logged 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points.

Karl Anthony-Towns, who has been woeful in his attempt to defend Thunder center Steven Adams did a fantastic job in the paint, stifling the New Zealand big by scoring 18 points and holding his counter part to eight.

“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” Billy Donovan said. “At the start of the game, we started 1-for-7 and we had good looks, we just dug ourselves a whole. We fought our way back but couldn’t sustain in the second half.”

Jimmy Butler was sensational with 26 points, seven rebounds, eight assists to go along with four steals and two blocks. Oklahoma City, who is still missing defensive stopper Andre Roberson, continues their bad stretch of defensive performances.

Like Tuesday night, there wasn’t anything in particular that stuck out individually that led to such a dominating loss. Regardless, the Thunder still lost, and lost badly. After finishing December 12-5, the momentum gained has seemed to run out. Oklahoma City will need to seriously reevaluate their team defense.

The Thunder were outscored 57-41 in the second half after scratching and clawing to simply tie the game at the half. Of course, the second night of a back-to-back will yield sloppy results at times, but the Thunder will be preparing for their two-day rest before their match with Charlotte frustrated.

Other than the big three, Oklahoma City’s bench scored 11 points and did little to help the starters. Terrance Ferguson, filling in for Roberson, added only three points.

Saturday’s game against Charlotte becomes more important with each loss dating back to the Phoenix disaster. The Thunder currently sit at seventh in the Western Conference. They will need to get back on track quick.

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With more opportunities, Abrines has yet to take next step

Alex Abrines has long been a favored piece of the Oklahoma City Thunder and when the Thunder’s General Manager Sam Presti selected the promising Spanish shooter in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Thunder believed they had found their dazzling guard in the vein of a Manu Ginobli. Oklahoma City’s dealings with Abrines, or lack thereof, prove as much.

There have been opportunities to move Abrines over the years. With the NBA evolving to a more perimeter based game, even raw, stashed talents like Abrines could have been an intriguing bargaining chip for most GM’s. Still the Thunder remained committed to their pick.

Their commitment and strong belief in the young guard may be starting to show some cracks.

With Tuesday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers signaling the numerical halfway point of the regular season, Abrines’ lack of progress has raised some questions among Thunder fans on if the shooting specialist has a future with the franchise.

It is no newsflash that second year players will play more than they did in their rookie campaigns. Abrines is no different. However, with the extra opportunities, the positive return has yet to come for the Spanish guard.

In 40 games thus far, Abrines has logged a total of 567 minutes and shot 39 percent from the floor (38 percent from three). Compare that to his first 40 games last season where Abrines played nearly 100 less minutes (477 minutes) and shot 42 percent from the floor and 36 percent from beyond the arc.

Abrines actually had more field goal attempts in those first 40 games of 2016-17 (147 attempts) than this season where he has shot 134 times. His three point attempts are down this season from last, 116-94.

Billy Donovan has also trusted Abrines more so than in his first year. In the 69 games, the first 40 last season and this entire year, Abrines saw the floor for 25-plus minutes only eight times. Six of those opportunities have come this year. Most notably his career-high 42 minutes logged against the Memphis Grizzlies, which also saw him drop a career-best 20 points.

Comparing these two sample sizes draws the conclusion that with more trust and opportunities, Abrines has been unable to take that next step in his development.

Even if you stretch out the sample size to his entire career with Oklahoma City, Abrines only logged 25-plus minutes five more times after the 40 game mark last year. Still below his total in 2017-18.

Of course, it is important to remember that Abrines did not have a true preseason as he was dealing with an injury.

“It’s been hard for Alex,” Donovan said. “I don’t think he’s in rhythm. Physically, he’s still trying to get back to where he was maybe a year ago. I think for people that watched him play last year, they can see that he’s not really physically the same level he was at.”

While Donovan is right to an extent, the opportunities have been plentiful for Abrines. With a roster that now includes Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and subsequent role changes for the rest of the team, the numerical opportunities are also mirrored by the “open-look” opportunities caused by having better teammates.

With higher team expectations, and a desperate need for scoring off the bench, at some point Abrines has to be better.

This is all paramount as the Feb. 8 trade deadline looms large. Presti and the Thunder have traditionally been very active as a franchise. While Abrines was always an untouchable in trade scenarios in the past, with those higher expectations, that tag has been removed by some.

It will be interesting to see how active Oklahoma City is for the deadline.

With a stacked roster, the Thunder have historically been reluctant to make any big moves via trade. The Finals team in 2011-12 was silent on the trade deadline, opting to add veteran free-agent Derek Fisher. The 60-win team the following year saw a similar course of action. Kevin Durant’s final year also saw the Thunder go the veteran free agent route.

The rosters that needed help due to youth or injury, the 2010-11 squad, 2014-15 and last year’s team, all saw the Thunder make big moves via trade, Kendrick Perkins, Dion Waiters/Enes Kanter and Taj Gibson/Doug McDermott respectively.

How Presti sees and foresees this roster will be the deciding factor. It has been reported that the Thunder will not seek to move Paul George at the deadline which opens the door for other trade scenarios, maybe some involving Abrines.

While the franchise still values Abrines and has high hopes for the Euro guard, it is undeniable that year two has been a disappointment for a plethora of reasons. Higher expectations and a lack of quick development may force Presti’s hand. Specifically, that opportunity will be there if a trade is desired.

There is still plenty of time for Abrines to bounce back. Donovan is right in that with more consistency, Abrines can bounce back and perhaps take that leap in development that many foresaw. Critiquing his game and future with the added consistency would also be more fair.

“I think he is moving in the right direction,” Donovan said during the Trailblazers pregame. “Coming off the road trip, he hasn’t been able to practice much but we will see how the game goes from here.”

The future with a talented roster, higher expectations and the ever active Sam Presti as GM open the door for many possibilities. Some that may include Abrines.

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Big 3 dominate, Ferguson dazzles in 133-96 destruction of Lakers

The Oklahoma City Thunder (21-17) defeated the Los Angeles Lakers (11-26) 133-96. The Thunder gave an all-star performance in the city that will host the 2018 NBA All-Star game, most notably by their big three. It was the largest margin of victory for the Thunder all season.

Russell Westbrook, playing in his hometown, finished with 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting, six rebounds and 12 assists. Paul George, playing near his hometown scored 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Carmelo Anthony registered 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting.

It was a big game for a number of reasons. Oklahoma City was riding a two-game losing streak going back to the controversial ending against the Milwaukee Bucks. It was also the first time that George was playing in Los Angeles since being traded to the Thunder in July.

Needless to say, many people were intrigued about George’s arrival in Los Angeles.

“No, no regrets at all,” George said in regards to his handling of trade rumors while he was with the Indiana Pacers Tuesday at practice. “All that was said was that a destination I would love to go to. There wasn’t, you know, a ‘hey, gunpoint to the head, send me here.’”

Westbrook had a very Westbrook answer the same day when asked about if he was making a sales pitch all season to George.

“Win a championship, beat that pitch,” Westbrook told reporters.

The George-to-LA talk will continue but the Thunder did their part tonight.

After being down 10-0 early, Oklahoma City started catching fire with Anthony and never looked back. The big three combined for 65 points.

Andre Roberson missed his second game with an injury and Billy Donovan had rookie Terrance Ferguson start. That is where the fun began.

Ferguson exploded on to the scene and scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting (6-of-9 from three) and stole the show. Amazing dunks, crisp shooting and high energy gave Donovan and Thunder fans hope for the rookie’s future production as he dazzled the court.

While most of it came towards the end of the game, that didn’t stop the Thunder’s big three from enjoying the performance Ferguson had. Players were noticeably encouraged after each Ferguson dunk.

The Thunder’s starting five combined for 102 points — outscoring the Lakers entire team.

Anytime the Thunder’s three main players combine for shooting 60 percent, they are a tough team to handle. To tall a task for the young Lakers who were playing without second overall pick in this year’s NBA draft Lonzo Ball.

It was one of the more dominant performances of the season for Oklahoma City. December was kind to the Thunder which saw them go 12-5 after disappointing for much of the beginning of the year. Tonight’s win is exactly what they wanted going on their west coast road trip.

The Thunder look to keep up this momentum Thursday against the LA Clippers in Staples Center.




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Peake & Roll Podcast S2 E15: The NSFW Episode…NBA Screws OKC Again

Earmuffs kids! In the wake of the controversial loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Chuck and Brady talk about the Thunder of both past and present. What exactly is going on with Alex Abrines? NBA tanking, Chuck not knowing who Heisenberg is and Brady finding out his one true love is married. Much more!

0:29 — 3:23: Soft intro –
3:24 — Voicemails — You can call (405) 928-0823 to leave your voicemail
9:20 — Chuck is unaware we are recording
12:38 — Second Intro
13:19 — Shout out to (405)990 caller
14:29 — Milwaukee controversy
20:55 — ¿Lo que está mal con Alex Abrines?
26:04 — A trip down Thunder Memory Lane; Golden State on New Year’s Eve 2008 and Milwaukee opener on Oct. 29, 2008
37:36 — Brady finds out a terrible truth…
41:35 — Back on track! Milwaukee loss
49:46 — Chuck doesn’t know who Heisenberg is.
51:33 — OKC should beat Dallas with or without PG13/Andre Roberson & NBA tanking
60:54 — Chuck’s Thunder New Years Resolution
63:59 — Chuck’s new article

Our podcast is on SoundCloud or on iTunes. Give us a listen. We try to do one or two a week.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

OKC’s quest for improvement is both simple and difficult

Inconsistency has become the theme of the 2017-18 Oklahoma City Thunder.

By now the factors are well known. Paul George. Carmelo Anthony. New faces with different roles. The pieces that should flourish are flawed. The weaknesses that have surfaced have yet to be corrected to a satisfactory level.

Of course, we are only 30 percent into the season. There is ample time for a team led by the reigning MVP in Russell Westbrook to change this theme. The lowest expectation of optimism can be described as thus; at some point this team will realize it’s incredibly talented and start winning games.

While the Thunder have been inconsistent, strangely enough there are consistencies discovered when watching this team. The obvious strength lies with the defense. Oklahoma City has leaned on their length, athleticism and ability to out-physical most teams in order to win or stay in the majority of their games. Putting the defensive numbers in perspective paints a less optimistic picture.

While Oklahoma City’s defensive numbers for this particular season are impressive and elite, they are not special when looking at recent history, and even if they were, you are not winning a championship as a one-sided team in today’s NBA.

Currently, the Thunder rank second in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 101.3 behind the Boston Celtics at 101. Over the last 10 seasons, the Celtics’ current rating would rank dead-last of the previous teams who led the NBA in defensive rating in their respective seasons. Also in the previous 10 seasons, only two teams — the 2007-08 Celtics and the 2014-15 Warriors — both led the league in defensive rating and also won an NBA championship in the same season.

This is going to make a strong playoff run, let alone a shot at a NBA Finals, difficult.

The Warriors are great due to their flexibility, versatility and balance on both sides of the floor. Previous champions have had similar adjectives attached to their résumés. What the Thunder have is a great foundation. Something to depend upon while they tinker with the on-the-court chemistry and offense as a whole. However, if they want to hover around .500, then they can be dependent that their defense will keep them in almost every game. That is not the goal.

So what needs to change?

That’s simple: The offense needs to not only improve but become substantially better. What can they possibly do?

The options have been floating around ever since Anthony chuckled at The Oklahoman’s Erik Horne and replied, “Who, me?” at a question insinuating that the former New York Knick might come off the bench at Thunder Media Day. Would Anthony as a sixth-man actually improve Oklahoma City. The numbers make a case, albeit not exactly a home run case.

Billy Donovan has played lineups consisting of Westbrook and George without Anthony a total of 857:32 minutes this season. The Thunder are plus-5.1 points better when this happens. This fuels the thought that Oklahoma City and general manager Sam Presti were better served with only taking George in the offseason and forsaking a shot at Anthony.

Especially when you compare lineups of Westbrook and Anthony (only plus-1.4 better) and Anthony and George (pus-3.5). The Thunder are better without Anthony on the floor according to some numbers.

That thought process is flawed. Are the Thunder better with only Westbrook and George on the floor? Yes, but not by a wide enough margin to make serious improvements.

Anthony coming off the bench would not be the cure all Oklahoma City fans are looking for. You would then be asking Alex Abrines to improve his defense on the fly or take away Jerami Grant’s spark plug factor away from the reserve role that has become a positive for this team.

Trading away Anthony — when it is undetermined if you could get some quality assets in return to help this season — is not the answer either. If the Thunder are going to prevail from their dynamite summer, they have to work to win for this season first.

The true answer has always been the same. Get better. Both simple and difficult.

Little things like moving off the ball — something Westbrook and Anthony struggle with — to force the defense into mismatches. Feeding the hot hand — Anthony was on fire in Philadelphia before the Thunder let an 11-point lead with five minutes to go turn into a triple-overtime thriller; Anthony only took four more shots the rest of the game.

The difficult task is going to be the big three actually making it all happen.

If Oklahoma City is going to realize it’s potential, Anthony must remain in the starting lineup. A bench unit with Anthony leading the way would not fix the problem but continue its symptoms.

One time for those not paying attention. Oklahoma City has time to right the ship. They are winners of seven of their last ten outings and appear to be close to breaking through the .500 hurdle. They sit at the seventh seed in the West and are only two games back in the loss column to the Minnesota Timberwolves and the fourth seed.

This team has the talent to go on a tear. 7-3 in your last 10 games is difficult to navigate in the NBA. All it will take is another great 10 game stretch and there will be a different attitude surrounding this team.

It is all up to Westbrook, Anthony and George.

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OKC drops another lead, game to NOLA 114-107

It was another day at the office for the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-9). Sadly that is not an endorsement for great play recently.

After an early 19-point lead, Oklahoma City fell back down to earth as the New Orleans Pelicans (9-8) fought back and eventually overcame the struggling Thunder 114-107. Oklahoma City surrendered 58 points in the paint. All this with Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins ejected from the game at the five-minute mark in the third quarter for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

So much of it started with the ejection of DeMarcus Cousins. With five minutes left in the third quarter, Cousins raised his elbows near Westbrook’s face after grabbing a rebound, and the Thunder guard dropped to the floor holding his head. Officials reviewed the film and decided a flagrant-2 was the right call.

At the time, the Thunder held a comfortable 76-72 lead. However, once Cousins went to the locker room, the Pelicans went to work. New Orleans turned on a 12-5 run to take a 83-81 lead with 2:12 left in the quarter.

The Pelicans were in complete control after that.

“It’s the same story line,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We go up 20 and teams work it down. We can’t allow that.”

One again, the Thunder start strong and struggle after they balloon their lead to double-digits. The Thunder began the night 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and shot 7-of-30 the rest of the contest.

“It’s different things,” Billy Donovan said. “The constant is the lead’s evaporating, but its not the same thing. Tonight there were too many fouls, sometimes it’s shot selection or turnovers.”

New Orleans attempted 36 free throws to Oklahoma City’s 26.

Westbrook had his fifth triple-double of the season with 22 points, 12 assists and 16 rebounds. His 31 percent from the floor was a glaring flaw on an otherwise solid outing for the reigning MVP. Paul George continued his stellar defensive play with five steals, four in the first half, and added 20 points.

Carmelo Anthony struggled throughout most of the middle of the game but finished with 19 points on 19 shots.

For Oklahoma City, the “it is still to early to panic” time frame is running out. With this loss, the Thunder are 16 games into an 82 game season, 20 percent of the way done. If Oklahoma City is going to seriously contend for a playoff run, the wins need to start happening in bunches sooner rather than later.

On the flip side of it all, Anthony Davis ate the Thunder after the ejection. Davis went 8-of-8 at the line, scoring 16 points over the last 17 minutes. For the game, Davis finished with 36 points and 15 rebounds.

“There’s a few [coincidences in losses],” Westbrook said.  “Teams get confidence. On the road you can’t do that.”

Andre Roberson was negative-10 on the court in only four minutes. Westbrook went 1-of-8 during that stretch. The Big Three were more like the little three trouble. Oklahoma City’s trio went 4-of-16 from the floor, turning it over six times, including 4-of-12 from three.

All was not terrible for the Thunder. Jerami Grant continues his improved play off the bench, scoring 10 points  on 4-of-7 shooting. Steven Adams was a factor early on and in the fourth with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Despite some nice numbers sprinkled amongst the box score, the Thunder continue to play amazing basketball in spurts with disorganized stretches haunting the team the rest of the game. It has now become a trend, a trend the Thunder want nothing to do with.

Oklahoma City saw their lead in the first quarter balloon to 25-6 when Alex Abrines nailed a three-pointer. New Orleans responded with a 28-9 run of their own to take their first lead at 38-37 with 8:39 remaining until halftime.

The Thunder led 65-57 at halftime.

Oklahoma City will have to regroup quickly. The Golden State Warriors make their way to the Chesapeake Arena Wednesday and the Thunder will have to fix a lot of problems if they are going to compete with the world champs.

Oklahoma City now is 0-8 in games decided by seven points or less. It’s the sixth time out of nine losses the Thunder have blown a double-digit lead in a loss.

“You can talk,” Westbrook said. “Talking don’t do anything at this point. You got to go out and play. You can talk as much as you want to, but guys got to take personal pride and understand how important it is to go out and compete and not take it for granted.”

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Paul George’s off-night reveals a Thunder strength

Paul George leaned against the wall at the Oklahoma City Thunder Integris Development Center on Tuesday. His eyes were facing the floor when the Thunder communications staff waved him over to the media scrum. He knew the topic of discussion that was to come.

George’s old team, the Indiana Pacers, were coming to town. Much like his teammate Carmelo Anthony on opening night with the New York Knicks, Wednesday night had the makings to be as big of a game for George.

“We talked about it in the preseason,” Anthony said on Tuesday regarding playing their former teams early in the year. “I think it’s a little easier to play on your court first before going there. I’m pretty sure he is excited.”

Sadly for George, Wednesday night can be categorized as a bad day at the office for him. After picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, the former Pacer never got going and the game quickly got away from him. His night ended midway through the fourth quarter when he picked up his sixth foul.

I think that’s why we all committed to this journey, committed to this team, because of nights like this. -Carmelo Anthony

A night that was supposed to be about George’s next chapter became a perfect example of why this team has the potential to be great.

Paul George, a four-time All-Star, registered 10 points on 4-of-8 in just over 19 minutes of game time. He was unable to play more minutes than Andre Roberson, Jerami Grant or Josh Huestis.

“I was actually more impressed with him (George) tonight,” Coach Billy Donovan said in the postgame. “He kept his composure and played the right way. Clearly tonight, there were some tough calls that put him in foul trouble early, but he’s a team guy and he kept his composure.”

While George was indeed level-headed despite some questionable calls throughout the evening, his teammates picked up the slack for him. Something that hasn’t happened much in his career.

Russell Westbrook was sensational with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting to go along with 16 assists and 10 rebounds — his second triple-double of the season and the 81st of his career. Steven Adams feasted in the paint with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Anthony had a double-double himself with 28 points and 10 boards.

“Russ and Melo did an unbelievable job to carry me and carry the team,” George said after the game. “It’s great to have two guys that when nights aren’t going for me, they are there for me.”

With someone as talented as George off rhythm all night, the Thunder were still able to secure an 18-point victory. That is an advantage this team realizes it has at its disposal — next man up.

“I think that’s why we all committed to this journey, committed to this team, because of nights like this,” Anthony said. “Even though one of our big pieces didn’t have a great game tonight, there were other guys that were able to step up. We didn’t have to rely on him as much as we might have on any other night.

That’s the beauty of us coming together, on any given night, we’re all going to have bad nights but we know the others can step up.”

When you add the talents of players like George and Anthony to a team with Westbrook and Adams on it, this is certainly a luxury the Thunder have over many teams in the NBA. Oklahoma City certainly did not have it last season. Especially not George himself.

I closed that chapter when I became a Thunder. -Paul George

In his last two seasons with the Pacers, George scored 10 points or fewer eight times. In those eight games, his Pacers won three and lost five with the average margin of victory for the opponent resting at just over 22 points.

“Yeah that hadn’t happened often in my career,” George said when asked about what it felt like to have an off night individually but his team still wins. “Fortunate to have those guys carry knowing how big this game was for me.”

There will be nights when Westbrook is off. There will be nights when Anthony’s shot refuses to fall. For the Thunder, they now have an example to reference in the future when one of their stars is having an off-night.

As for entering that next chapter with a big individual game and a win against his former team, George was not discouraged by his poor individual play.

“I closed that chapter when I became a Thunder,” George said.

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Injury update 10-5-17

Head coach Billy Donovan revealed today that Russell Westbrook did go through his first full practice of training camp, while Patrick Patterson went through scripted non-contact drills.

Alex Abrines did not practice and will not play Friday night against the New Orleans Pelicans along with Patterson.

Donovan said that Westbrook will be “reassessed” tomorrow to determine whether or not he will make his preseason debut. He also said that if he is able to go, he may be on a slight minutes restriction.

“There’s a possibility he could (play),” Donovan said. “There’s a chance he couldn’t. I think a lot’s gonna depend on, if he does go, how many minutes he would be able to play. Or it may be a situation where he says ‘I maybe need a little bit more rest.'”

Westbrook has been limited in preseason training camp in the wake of his platelet rich plasma injection procedure he had prior to camp. Patterson and Abrines are still recovering from minor injuries that don’t seem to concern the team for their status going forward.

“Russ is a guy that he can take two months off he can come back and play well,” Carmelo Anthony said today at practice.

If Westbrook is unable to play, Raymond Felton will get his second start at point guard in the preseason. Felton, a 14-year NBA veteran, started 11 games in the 2016-17 season for the LA Clippers.

He got the start on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets and recorded nine points and three assists in 18:29 minutes of play.

Patterson’s injury stems from arthroscopic knee surgery he had in August while Abrines’ left knee strain from international play continues to keep him from full practice.

“It difficult to put a time frame on anyone,” Donovan said last week on Patterson and Abrines’ status . “But it’s not something we think is long term.”

Reserves Jerami Grant, Semaj Christon and Terrance Ferguson will likely get more minutes for the rest of preseason.

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