Author - Chuck Chaney

Nerlens double-double powers OKC by Portland

The Thunder built an 18-point lead and everything appeared to be going to form. They would blow the lead, melt down in the third quarter. Damian Lillard would catch fire and everyone would srhug their shoulders as if we are to accept the outcome.

Except, the Thunder didn’t do that. They may have lost the lead but they overcame Lillard’s big third quarter to hold the lead after three. They pushed the lead back to double digits.

In the end, Oklahoma City beat the Trail Blazers 108-96 on Sunday night to start their West coast road trip in the best way.

The Thunder are now 10-12 on the year. With the win, Oklahoma City moves to seventh in the Western Conference playoff race.

Oklahoma City overcame so many of their early season woes in one game. In just days after the Trail Blazers hit their first approximately 1,000 shots against Oklahoma City, the Thunder forced Portland to miss 12-of-13 shots in the middle of the first quarter.

Dennis Schröder got the ball rolling for the Thunder in the second quarter. He hit two threes and an old fashioned, three-point play, pushing Oklahoma City into a double digit advantage. The lead grew as Nerlens Noel and others chipped in.

Before the Blazers really found their footing, the Thunder had built a 49-31 lead with just over four minutes left in the half.

Portland made a runoff two threes from Lillard. The Thunder held off the run, which would be one of a few, and controlled the halftime scoreboard 55-47.

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland made their final run throughout the third. Lillard got hot but Oklahoma City found an answer every time the Blazers and Lillard did anything of value.

Then as if it was a switch that was flipped Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stepped up and made some buckets after struggling for a majority of the game. Danilo Gallinari did the same. SGA had 14 points in the final frame and Gallinari hit a big three that helped OKC keep their distance from the surging Blazers.

SGA finishes with 21 points. Schröder had 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. Nerlens Noel had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Oklahoma City plays the Utah Jazz Monday night in Salt Lake City. Their 8.5-point underdogs and it already feels as if they’re winners. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

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Oklahoma City destroys Golden State 120-92

It’s everything we’ve wanted to see over the last few years, minus a few players. Oklahoma City Thunder-dumped the Golden State Warriors on Sunday afternoon 120-92.

The Thunder led from the beginning, with Danilo Gallinari scoring the first eight points. It set the tone and the Thunder would never relinquish the lead.

Oklahoma City picks up their first win of the season, improving to 1-2 on the year and it exercised a handful of demons in the process.

The win also ties the Thunder’s biggest win over the Warriors in franchise history.

IN the year’s past of the Warriors blowing out the Thunder, often with devastating. results as the Warriors spouted four all-stars and the Thunder riding these emotional waves that were nearly impossible to control. As the franchise continues to recover, the tide is turning. KD is gone and so is Westbrook. That chapter of the rivalry is gone. Oklahoma City notched the first win in the new era by shutting down Steph Curry and use an array of players to make the Warriors afternoon a nightmare.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to be this remarkable player with huge upside. His ability to contort his body against the body of his defender and still find a way to make a finger roll or a nice contested bucket leaves you jaw dropped and the Thunder can see a real superstar in SGA. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting in only 29 minutes.

Oklahoma City saw their first double digit lead early as they jumped up 13-3 on a nice move by Chris Paul. The Thunder saw their lead balloon to 20 midway through the second quarter when Hamidou Diallo made a 3-pointer, giving Oklahoma City the 48-26 lead with 7:29 to go until half.

The Thunder led 70-39 at half.

The onslaught continued for Oklahoma City as they pushed and pushed. Chase down blocks by SGA and outstanding production from Chris Paul, running the offense, and Danilo Gallinari scoring big time points, the Thunder pushed their lead to as many as 42 in the second half and Golden State really never could find any rhythm to get themselves back in the game.

Paul finished with 10 points on 2-of-5 shooting. Gallinari 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-9 from three. Six different players scored at least eight points for Oklahoma City. Dennis Schröder showed up finally. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He led OKC with six assists. He also had eight rebounds.

Oklahoma City held the Warriors to only 5-of-33 three-point shooting, one of their worst shooting performances in recent memory of the Warriors.

The Thunder led 105-68 after three quarters.

D’Angelo Russell was ejected in the third quarter for yelling at an official.

The best part about the game is Oklahoma City was able to rest their starters on the front of a back-to-back. No one played more than 30 minutes and that’s most important.

Oklahoma City will be back on the court tomorrow night against Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets.

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Thunder Game Day #2: vs. Washington Wizards

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1, 0-0 home)

at

Washington Wizards (0-1, 0-1 away)

Friday, October 25 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
TV Coverage: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 9-point favorites. The over/under is 221.5.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Wizards: here

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.
  • Chris Fisher 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 ENEMY

  • The Washington Wizards went 32-50 last season, 11th in the Eastern Conference.
  • The two teams split last season’s series, winning on each other’s court.
  • The two teams have split the last three seasons.
  • Oklahoma City is 73-62 all-time against the Washington Wizards.
  • Since the Thunder relocated, Oklahoma City is 14-7 against Washington.
  • When they play in ‘Peake, the Thunder are 9-1. It happened last season.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Troy Brown Jr. (calf strain) is out.
    Ian Mahinmi (achilles strain) is out.
    Jordan McRae (finger) is out.
    CJ Miles (foot) is out.
    Isaiah Thomas (thumb) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Washington came on March 14, 2011, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 116-89 (27-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (22 points) vs. the Wizards occurred during an 120-98 loss on Feb. 13, 2017.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (return to play management) is out.

UNIFORM WATCH

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Thunder look like a team in loss to Jazz

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Mike Muscala (33) fouls Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) as Thunder guard Chris Paul (3) drives during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

We expected the worst last night so when the final score came down, we were pleasantly surprised. For the Oklahoma City Thunder and their fans, the 100-95 loss to one of the Western Conference favorites, the Utah Jazz, there were a lot of good to take away from.

The Thunder’s win totals are considerably lower than in year’s past due to the loss of a couple of well known guys in Russell Westbrook and Paul George. However, the additions of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul, the Thunder appeared to be a formidable bunch. The duo combined for 48 of the 95 points Oklahoma City scored. While Chris Paul’s future with Oklahoma City will remain in the air for the foreseeable future, it was SGA’s take over in the second and third quarter that put Oklahoma City in prime striking distance.

The real difference in this game came down to two things: coaching and having a superstar.

The mere presence of Donovan Mitchell gave Oklahoma City fits. His ability to hit key shots when the Jazz needed was detrimental to the Thunder’s winning percentages. Oklahoma City had no answer for him and that was more than just defending shots. The game winner or you can call it. Donovan caught a high screen from Gobert, leaving Mitchell open for a mid-range jumper. While he nailed it, nothing but the bottom of the net, it left Adams on an island. Does he push up and get blown by Mitchell, leaving the rim wide open or does he hold his ground, hoping a player who shoots under 50 percent can match his percentages. Mitchell’s ability to close games prevailed and the Thunder are sent back to Oklahoma City trying to get better.

Then there was Billy Donovan’s decision making down the stretch. The inability to call the right play against a team he’s seen more than a dozen times remains frustrating. Chris Paul having to take a contested corner three because Donovan’s ability to draw up a simple play that puts Utah in precarious situations is alarming. This team has eight new players, so some of the frustration plays we’ve seen in the past should change as the personal changes. It didn’t last night and that’s what is the most worrisome.

SGA is the real deal. While he didn’t score in the fourth quarter, setting a new career high of 25 points through just three quarters, his ability to maneuver through the lane is impressive. He hit shots within stride and really showed why the Thunder were so amped to get him in the trade. He’s probably the future of Oklahoma City basketball. His line of 10-of-23 shooting, 3-of-7 from three looks oddly like a Russell Westbrook line.

The Thunder have a lot of things to work out as they continue to integrate so many new players. One thing everyone should improve on is the free throw shooting. SGA, a career 80 percent free throw shooter coming into the game, was only 3-of-6. Adams appeared to be in midseason form as he was 1-of-6, missing his first four attempts. Oklahoma City’s been will continue to be a bit of an engima unless proven otherwise. Without Andre Roberson back, which will force someone to the bench (most likely Terrance Ferguson [we’ll get to him in a moment]), the bench will struggle to find their own identity. Only 21 points on absymal shooting, 7-of-24 and 1-of-8 from three. It was literally the Hamidou Diallo show for the bench. Dennis Schröder hasn’t been found in Utah and maybe he was left back in Oklahoma City. The local authorities are on it. He was terrible, going 1-of-8 from the floor. We could get someone like Sebastian Telfair to do that for the league minimum.

Steven Adams was not himself against Gobert. That is something we should come to accept. When Adams matches up against someone better than him, he will struggle heavily. This could be applied to Jokic, Nurkic and maybe Whiteside. The Kiwi is a little too slow to move with the guys who are defensive powers. While Adams’ game is old school, his ability to overcome strong defense is not. He disappears and becomes a non-factor. The Thunder have little to no room for error and him becoming a non-factor is a real flat tire for the Thunder. Interesting to see what Adams can do against other players in the league. He’s often one of the more criticized Thunder players due to his hefty contract.

Terrance Ferguson tried to play his way out of the rotation. If it wasn’t for Schröder’s poor performance, it may be Ferguson who’s sent to the bench. We’ve said it for years, you cannot have a starting guard have more turnovers (1) than shot attempts (0). He started out slow last year and turned into a quality player but as we said about Adams and Schröder: there’s no room for error.

The Thunder are a good team. If Sam Presti doesn’t blow this team up and let it ride out, the Thunder are showing why they could be a playoff team. Injuries and other things will creep up but it’s how the Thunder will respond during those times that will show what real team the they have.

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Thunder Game Day #1: at Utah Jazz

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0, 0-0 away)

at

Utah Jazz (0-0, 0-0 home)

Wednesday, October 23 :: 8:00 p.m. CST :: Vivint Smart Home Arena (18,300)
TV Coverage: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio Coverage: 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 9-point favorites. The over/under is 221.5.
Online StreamFS OK | WWLS Sports Animal | Live Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

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.
  • Chris Fisher 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 ENEMY

  • The Utah Jazz finished last season 50-32, fifth in the Western Conference.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder swept the Jazz last season, including a 148-147 thriller in double overtime.
  • The Thunder have won seven straight over Utah.
  • The Thunder have won 10 of the last 11 against Utah and 14 of the last 16.
  • The Thunder have won three straight in Utah.
  • All-time against Utah, the Thunder are 110-78.
  • Since the Thunder relocated, Oklahoma City is 31-12 against Utah.
  • When they play in SLC, the Thunder are 12-10 against the Jazz.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Dante Exum (right knee) is out.
  •  The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Utah came on 12/20/17, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 107-79 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. Utah occurred during a 99-120 loss on 10/31/10.

THUNDER INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson (return to play management) is out.

UNIFORM WATCH

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Six takeaways from OKC’s preseason win over Dallas

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. The final score doesn’t matter. It’s a preseason game. Teams are not going to play their normal rotations and will try other players who are trying to make the roster. Here are a few notes from the game.

Defensively they look fine

No Luka Doncic and not Kristaps Porzingis but the Thunder’s defense looked solid. They made most shots tough for the Mavericks and the first time in a while the Thunder never really seemed to have a late game collapse. Sure, Dallas made it close but it really wasn’t a threat. Only four steals as a team. That’s going to take some time to adjust to, and that may change or hurt Oklahoma City down the road.

Chris Paul has always been an above average defender and the Thunder still have Steven Adams. However, stuff like Jerami Grant being gone won’t be seen until we really start playing full games. However, their perimeter defense was solid and overall was a solid performance by the team.

Sharing is caring

While Russell Westbrook often led the league in assists the team was disappointing when it came to total assists per game. 24 in their first game is nice. They were pretty spread out and that means people were hitting their shots with some consistency. It’s no secret Westbrook would’ve averaged 15 per game had people hit their shots.

Where will the assists come from? While the NBA continues to become this fluid, position-less league, the Thunder will rely on Chris Paul for those numbers but SGA will do his part but only one assist from SGA last night isn’t alarming but may be something we key on.

Free throws were rough

Oklahoma City shot just 65.7 percent from the free throw line last night. That cannot happen going forward. The margin for error will be tight for a team that lacks multiple MVP candidates. Some of it will get better. Lugunetz Dort will not miss two because he’ll be with the OKC Blue. Terrance Ferguson is better than a 50 percent shooter.

Things that probably will stay the same: Steven Adams missing three. That’s come to be expected. He was 6-of-9 last night and with his physicality down low, he’s likely to get the line a handful of times each game. Hopefully with Adams, he makes more than he misses.

We’re not even going to consider what it may be with Andre Roberson returning to the lineup soon.

Optimism is high

The over/under is 31.5 for the Thunder on wins. If they play like this and SGA becomes what the Thunder expect out of him, the Thunder could win a few more games. I’m not sure what the real life expectations from the Thunder are but if CP3 plays well, doesn’t get traded and the Thunder find themselves in the thick of a playoff race or at least at .500.

Muscal-eww

Mike Muscala didn’t look particularly well in his one. In only eight minutes of play he was 1-of-5 with a turnover. He was a plus-11. So, that’s good, right?

Do we eve really know what his role is here in Oklahoma City? No. The Thunder signed a player who doesn’t particularly fit well with the roster they have. He’s never shown proper play that would put him into the starting five, to me obviously. Maybe Billy Donovan is working him into the rotation but playing so late in a preseason game is not always the best sign. We’ll see going forward.

The Thunder shoot the three… well?

Despite it being just a preseason game, the Thunder looked GOOD from beyond the arc. Something the Thunder have struggled with over the last couple of seasons didn’t look like an issue last night. Sure, Dallas was without a couple of key players but the building blocks for a decent perimeter game was there.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went 4-of-8 and Chris Paul went 2-of-3. That’s already a change. While we all love Russell, his three-point shooting left a lot to be desired. It’s going to be a nice change of pace to have a point guard who hit a three with some consistency. Paul is a career 37 percent three-point shooter. Westbrook is a 31 percent shooter.

Starters-wise, the Thunder went 8-of-14, pretty solid. Danilo Gallinari missed his only attempt and he only played 17 minutes. Very curious to see what Oklahoma City can do with a full 48 minutes. It’s not always going to be good but it has to be better, right?

ALSO: Steven Adams hit a three! Steven Adams hit a three! Steven Adams hit a three!

Steven Adams hit a three! Okay. I’m done.

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Oklahoma City Thunder trade Russell Westbrook

The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. It’s a sentence I never wanted to write. Here we are. Russell Westbrook’s comes to an abrupt ending.

Oklahoma City will get Chris Paul and a handful of picks in return according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired eight first-round picks since draft night.

Russell Westbrook was the longest tenured player with the Thunder, lasting 11 seasons. During his career in Oklahoma City he won the 2016-17 MVP and averaged a triple-double for three consecutive seasons.

Westbrook finishes atop all the statistical categories are atop the Oklahoma City-Seattle record books. His charity events are atop the Oklahoma City charity groups. His on the court performances were matched by his ability within the community. Westbrook cared about those within the state of Oklahoma.

With everything Oklahoma City went through back in 2016. It was Westbrook who stayed. He could have asked to be moved then. He signed and committed to the city. He put his trust within the organization. They rolled out the red carpet. In return, he went bananas, winning the 2016-17 Most Valuable Player award over James Harden. He became the first player in half century to average a triple-double.

Then, Oklahoma City made money moves. They went into the high tax to bring in players like Paul George. Injuries and just mismanaged rosters with Carmelo Anthony, for example, led to three straight first round exits. The sky high expectations over the last two season have been met with little reward. Three straight first round exits, including a disappointing 4-1 series loss to the Blazers puts the duo in the cross hairs.

When Paul George asked for a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, Westbrook and the Thunder met to see what would come up with the Thunder. It became obvious the Thunder were looking to rebuild. The Thunder wanted to do right by Westbrook. The man who shown loyalty in a league where loyalty is all but a word. They took down a list of teams and began taking offers for the triple-double machine.

Miami shown interest but were not parting with key players like Tyler Herro and others. So, Presti did what he does best. He moved on. He’s done it numerous times. He is not a man who will play the staring contest. Like the Harden situation, Presti moved under the cloak of darkness and moved Westbrook to a preferred destination: the Houston Rockets.

Oklahoma City gets Paul, a 34-year old future hall of famer. He’s due $124 million over the next three seasons. It’s not a done deal Paul stays in Oklahoma City. Miami and such will be in the mix but with his large contract, it’s going to be difficult to move it. It will not be impossible, just difficult.

No. 0 will always be No. 1 in our hearts. For all of his faults. Westbrook will not quit on you. He’s going to be the greatest gift to the Rockets. He’s loyal to a fault and in the end, he cares about two things: his family and winning. That’s it.

Oklahoma City is stacked in draft picks. Houston is stacked for a title run. My heart is full of memories of Westbrook.

A new Thunder chapter begins.

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Westbrook and George have successful surgeries

The Oklahoma City Thunder have announced Russell Westbrook and Paul George have undergone a couple of surgeries each.

Westbrook, the 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player underwent successful surgery to repair his fourth MCP ligament on his left hand. He also underwent an arthroscopic knee surgery as he has the last few seasons. He’s expected to be back in action in approximately three weeks.

For George, we’ve known his shoulder has been bothering him. He underwent successful elective surgery on his right shoulder. It repaired a partial thickness in his supraspinatus tendon tear. In another words, a tear in his rotator cuff. He will also repair a tear in his labrum in his left shoulder. He’s expected to be ready by the regular season.

These surgeries aren’t surprising. The extent of the injuries are though. Multiple tears for George and a torn ligament for Westbrook. We knew they were hurt but were unaware of how bad. It’s a testament for the personal sacrifice for both players to play through these injuries.

Westbrook continued to make NBA history this season, averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive year (22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 10.7 assists), making him the first player in NBA history to accomplish the feat. This season Westbrook led the league in assists for the second-straight season, making him the first player to ever lead the league in scoring twice (2015, 2017) and assists twice (2018, 2019).

George averaged career highs in points (28.0, 2nd in NBA), rebounds (8.2), assists (4.1) and steals (2.21, 1st in NBA). The only other player to average as many points, rebounds and steals in a season since steals became an official stat was Michael Jordan in 1988-89.

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Four Thoughts on Game 5 and the series

The Thunder lost their season on Tuesday night. They had the opportunity but they wasted it away with turnovers, missed free throws and a bunch of other nonsense that has plagued Oklahoma City all season. Here are a few thoughts on the game and the series.

Big fake tough guys

Oklahoma City has been known for being physical. It’s common knowledge throughout the NBA. However, their trash talking and all of their antics backfired in this series. You ran your mouth for a victory but the other team was cool, calm and collected for most of the series. Sure, Russell Westbrook may need to do that to get himself up. However, his emotional IQ was weak all series long. Oklahoma City needed their MVP to play like an MVP, instead he played like a fake tough guy. He’s usually a guy who can back up his talk but in a series where his play was more important, the Blazers let Westbrook and Co. get in their own heads.

Multiple times in the series Westbrook chose not to get back on defense. Multiple times in the series a careless turnover was made by a player. George’s missed free throws in the final two minutes was crucial but wouldn’t mattered as Dame hit a three. However, it’s just the fact the season came down to missed free throws.

Schröder’s wrist tapping but unable to provide consistent play throughout the series was tough. Sure, he played well in Games 3 & 5, but was wildly inconsistent the rest of the series. He didn’t even hit a three until Game 3 (was 0-of-8 before that).

Coaching issues

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was the better of the two in this series. It was capped off with riding the hot hand in Game 5. Lillard was on fire and Stotts rode him for 36 straight minutes. Sometimes deviating from the rotation is needed. Did the Thunder REALLY need to rest George in those final three minutes of the half? Your hottest player, you’re going to sit, even with three fouls? You have to trust that player to make the right play. Instead, you sit ‘em. There were weird time outs from Thunder head coach Billy Donovan all series. They killed momentum every single time. He had a timeout so abrupt in Game 5, everyone thought a technical foul had been called. I don’t know whether he was just trying something out and didn’t work, or was he just overmatched and he was overcorrecting?

One thing I can say is Donovan’s job is safe. You can want his job all you want but there currently is not a coach that’s available where you can say “yeah, this is going to improve the play.” Coaching in the NBA is a tough profession. There are obvious issues, I think with the except of 3-4 coaches in the NBA, you could say that about any coach’s philosophy.

Donovan had a bit of a raw deal this season. There were numerous major injuries. The Thunder were without Alex Abrines due to personal issues and unfortunately, some players, i.e., Patrick Patterson never developed into the role player the Thunder expected. While some of the offense is definitely falling on him, the lack of players falls on other members of the front office.

Steven Adams, what?

It’s weird. Adams had such an up and down season. It all came to a head in the series. There were a couple of games where you really saw him dominate the Blazers and as we would expect, but then other times he would post up Kanter, throw up a wild shot and leave you scratching your noggin.

A couple of things come to mind: 1) Is he hurt? I’m assuming he is. Everyone appears to be hurt (more on this later). 2) Bad philosophy Adams isn’t a post up guy and the Thunder set up him for failure. or 3) He just didn’t have it. It’s probably a combination of all three. Adams isn’t the best post up big man in the league. Kanter, while he struggles mightily in the P-n-R, is a formidable post up defender and we saw that against Adams. Adams always takes a beating, so I’m assuming there some sort of injury nagging him. He is a Kiwi tank and he’ll battle through it.

Also, I just think Adams is not fit for a match up with Portland. His second half of the season wasn’t stellar. Not many Thunder players can say theirs was either.

Injuries upon injuries

I would not be in the least bit surprised if the Thunder announced throughout the summer multiple players had surgery. Westbrook’s hand has been an issue all season. He’s also had multiple knee surgeries, so what’s one more? George’s shoulder is an obvious one. Other players probably have something but those are the two most obvious ones. Oklahoma City has been banged up and with a limited roster, the Thunder are probably going to get everyone under the knife and get healthy for next season.

What if

This one is just a sad one. No Andre Roberson. No Alex Abrines. This team never really was what it was supposed to be. While others stepped up in their place, the Thunder obviously missed key pieces for one reason or another. Oklahoma City dearly missed Dre’s defense and Abrines’ shooting. Oklahoma City would’ve been a different team with both of them. Playoff Dre was a real thing. Abrines is one of the best three-point shooters in Thunder history. So, Oklahoma City missing a few spokes to the wheel mattered.

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Dame time ends OKC’s season

In a game of runs, this run comes to an end for Oklahoma City.

The ending of the 2018-19 season came in a way that no one was surprised. Damian Lillard nailed a shot you knew was going in from the second he stepped back.

Oklahoma City lost 118-115 to lose the series 4-1. Sure, the Lillard shot will be what will go down in the history books. However, what will not be told is how the Thunder put the Blazers in that position.

Oklahoma City was outscored 13-2 down the stretch. Paul George missed two free throws and had his pocket picked in the final two minutes. Russell Westbrook was called for a questionable charge call and took an ill-advised shot with 15 seconds left at the rim. A shot any other time we wouldn’t question but with the game on the line and how the momentum had changed, we sit here pondering the alternatives.

Oklahoma City went up 105-90 with 7:45 left on Dennis Schroder’s pull up jumper. A 30-6 run at this point, it appeared the Thunder had thwarted a tough Lillard performance to push Oklahoma City into a Game 6. It had all the makings of the comeback against Utah the previous season.

“Very disappointing,” Westbrook said.

All-in-all, the Thunder did almost everything right on a night that felt weird. Oklahoma City shot a billion percent, estimating, in the first half. Lillard went bananas but the Thunder led for a majority of the game. It was just what Dame did to the Thunder is what we can think of.

“He made big shots,” George said. “Tip my hat to the shots he mad. But it was his night. He felt it. He knocked them down.”

It was the third time in the five games Oklahoma City held a double digit lead against Portland. It’s the first time Oklahoma City has lost in the playoffs scoring at least 115 points in franchise history.

George gave it all. For all of his postseason failures in his OKC tenure, the George showed up and showed out in Game 5. George scored 34 points on 14-of-20 shooting. He finished 5-of-8 from the free throw line.

It was the 12th straight road playoff loss for the Thunder, who have been eliminated in the opening round for three straight seasons. They have not won a road game since Game 1 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

Westbrook was a catalyst for the Thunder’s 30-6 run in the third and fourth quarters, but struggled offensively and turned it over a bunch.

The Thunder went up 22-12 early, and George made his first six shots from the floor. Oklahoma City held a 37-29 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Lillard led all players with 19 points. CJ McCollum got into foul trouble and headed for the bench.

The Thunder will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out how to get out of the first round. First, you’ll step up and address the disadvantages the roster has and then go forward. It’s becoming a make-or-break year for Sam Presti.

Keys to the Game

Be the better duo: C

Was Russ-George the better duo? It’s hard to say. I think this was negated by Dame and George’s really good games. CJ and Russ had their moments. You don’t want this to be in question. You had to win this battle, and going even doesn’t do that.

Attack Portland’s Bigs: F

Portland had 54 points in the paint. They had 19 second chance points. They had 13 offensive rebounds and did everything they wanted. Oklahoma City never really were able to get a place on the glass. That’s really a bad deal you giving up 13 points and 13 rebounds to Enes Kanter. Steven Adams finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Woof.

Do the little things: C

Oklahoma City did the little things on average. Which if we did the numbers outside of the final six minutes of the game, maybe the Thunder win this category but you don’t want to win the first 42 minutes. You’re trying to win the whole dang 48 minutes.

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