Author - James Horvath

Thunder fall 111-98 in Game 4

Portland used a 37-14 run over the second and third quarters to beat the Thunder 111-98 on Easter Sunday in Game 4, and now trail the series 3-1.

Only two teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round of the playoffs.

So what went wrong Sunday night?

Plenty.

To begin, the Thunder shot 37.5 percent from the field, and 37.5 percent from three-point land, with only 22 points in the paint to go along with only six offensive rebounds.

Russell Westbrook went 5-for-21 from the field, 2-for-7 from three, and only had seven assists. Westbrook was a -17, third worst on the team behind Terrance Ferguson (minus-18) and Steven Adams (minus-21).

The Thunder, known for their defense and forcing turnovers, only forced 12 turnovers compared to the 18 turnovers in the win Friday night.

The Portland Trail Blazers went on an 11-0 run to close the first half after trailing 46-39 with 2:31 to go.

CJ McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Damian Lillard combined to make 13 of Portland’s 15 threes. Portland shot a better percentage from three (42.9 percent) than they did from field (41.1 percent.)

In a shot making league, the Thunder have failed to make shots in three out of four games. In their losses, Oklahoma City has shot 39.3 percent from the field, and 25 percent from three. In the Thunder’s single win in this series, they shot 48.1 percent from the field, and 51.7 percent from three. You can’t expect the Thunder to shoot 50 percent from three every game, but shooting 25 percent in losses is a major no.

This can be attributed to bad luck, and poor roster construction. Paul George and Jerami Grant were the only reliable three-point shooters in the regular season, with Ferguson having a small stretch of reliability. So far in four playoff games, no-one on the Thunder has been reliable from three.

Where can the Thunder go from here? They’re down 3-1 in the series, and Game 5 is in Portland on Tuesday. It would take a miracle for the Thunder to come back in the series, considering the trend they have been going in. George’s health is surely not right, and Westbrook cannot hit the side of the barn. Lillard and McCollum are red hot from three, and they are the best two players in this series by far.

One game at a time is the only way the Thunder can progress. They have not been eliminated yet.

To win Game 5, Oklahoma City will need Westbrook to make some better decisions, if that means shot selection, or basketball IQ. George will need to be in his January form, with elite scoring and defense. Thunder role players, such as Schroder, Grant, and Ferguson will need to contribute in some way as they did in Game 3.

Game 5 is set to tip-off at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.

 

Keys to the Game

PG the playmaker D

Paul George turned the ball over four times, and had six assists. George finished with 32 points on 8-for-21 (4-for-10 from three) from the field. George was a -2, the best plus-minus for an Oklahoma City starter.

Ferguson foul trouble B

Ferguson did not have any issues with foul trouble, but did have issues simply being an effective player in the game. Ferguson shot 1-for-7 (1-for-6 from three) from the field, and was a -18. A much more important player had foul trouble, and his name is Paul George. George collected his third very early into the second quarter and didn’t play until the second half. The Thunder trailed by four going into the second half, and never regained the lead.

Deny Dame B

Damian Lillard was 0-for-6 until 1:14 left in the first half. Lillard finished 7-for-19 from the field, which would equal 7-for-13 from the 1:14 mark in the second quarter until the end of the game.

 

 

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Thunder Digits: Thunder claim must-win game 3 in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder won game three in Oklahoma City, cutting the 2-0 series deficit in half. The Thunder were favored by 8 points going into the game, and ended up winning by a final score of 120-108. The Thunder can win game four on Easter Sunday, and knot up the series 2-2. Some numbers from tonight’s game include:

15

The Thunder hit 15 three-pointers in Friday night’s game, tying a franchise playoff record. They had previously been 10-for-61 in the past two games. Gigantic improvement, and a big part of why the Thunder won. Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson hit seven threes combined, on nine shots total. In the previous two games, they shot a combined 2-for-15 from three-point range.

8

Paul George has made 8-of-29 three-point attempts. George is going to need to do better for the Thunder to win the series, as the Thunder will not shoot over 50 percent from three again without George going off.

39

The Thunder shot 39 free throws, making 31 of them, good for 79.5 percent. Paul George led the Thunder in free throw attempts with 17.

1

The amount of free throws Russell Westbrook has missed the whole series. Westbrook is 18-for-19 in three games.

16

The Thunder led by as many as 16 points, which came early in the third quarter. Portland came all the way back to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder never trailed in the second half. Oklahoma City ended up winning by 12.

27

Oklahoma City had 27 assists tonight, which is seven more than they had in Game 2, and nine more than they had in game one. A big part of the increase in assists tonight is the Thunder shooting higher than 20 percent from three. Keep moving the ball and playing the right way.

25

Damian Lillard scored 25 of Portland’s 41 points in the third quarter. Lillard had previously scored four points in the first half. The Thunder were able to match Portland’s 41 points with 37 of their own in the third quarter, and hold Lillard to three points in the fourth quarter.

18

Portland committed 18 turnovers. 14 of them came in the first half, which resulted in 15 points for the Thunder. Only four turnovers were forced in the second half, good for three points. If the Thunder can play like they did in the first half, holding Lillard to only four points and forcing as many turnovers as they did, Oklahoma City will be in a great position.

4

There are four games left in the series, and Oklahoma City needs to take three of them to win the series. If the Thunder are going to win the series, they will need Paul George to hit more shots, the Thunder to shoot from three like they did tonight, and for Westbrook to keep his emotions in check. The home team has not lost a game yet, and hopefully, that will continue until game five in Portland.

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Thunder drop Game 1 in Portland 104-99

The Thunder lost on Sunday afternoon to the Portland Trail Blazers 104-99 to fall back 1-0 in the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

The Thunder trailed by as many as 19 in the second quarter, but trimmed Portland’s lead down to six at halftime. Paul George’s shoulder affected him on the offensive end the whole game, with George getting blocked three times in the first quarter. George finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-24 shooting, while going 4-of-15 from three-point range. George’s four three-pointers were the majority of Oklahoma City’s horrific 5-for-33 from three performance.

Terrance Ferguson said that the Thunder have to “keep shooting” and not let this bad performance get to them. Shots will fall eventually.

Russell Westbrook was the Thunder’s best player, with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists on 8-17 shooting. Westbrook was able to get to the rim whenever he wanted, something that was missing in last season’s playoffs versus Utah.

Steven Adams scored 17 points while grabbing nine rebounds. The rebound battle was very tight, with Oklahoma City barely edging Portland 49-to-48.

Damian Lillard led Portland in scoring with 30 points on 9-of-21 shooting, hitting some huge three pointers, like when Portland was up 93-92 with 2:44 left. The Thunder attacked Enes Kanter, but not as much as they needed to to play him off the floor. Kanter finished with 20 points, and 18 rebounds, with seven of them coming on the offensive end. The Thunder will lose the series if they do not take advantage of Kanter on defense, because he’s simply too good on the boards.

The Thunder played a good defensive game, if you subtract the first quarter. Oklahoma City forced 18 turnovers and snatched 10 steals, while holding Portland to 41.9 percent from the field. The three-point defense needs to be better however, as Portland shot 44.9 percent with most of them coming from Lillard.

Oklahoma City finished with 18 assists, and Portland finished with 14. Both teams’ ball movement left more to be desired. The low amount of assists for the Thunder can be credited to the 28 missed three pointers.

To win Game 2, all Oklahoma City has to do is simply make shots and play better defense on Damian Lillard and CJ. McCollum. Make Kanter defend more. It’s a testament to how gritty the Thunder are to play as bad as they did and have so many opportunities to win. Jerami Grant getting more opportunities to score would also be a good thing. He was the Thunder’s second best three-point shooter in the regular season.

Paul George was a gametime decision, and ended up playing. George after the game said that four days ago, he “couldn’t even lift his shoulder.”  Luckily, George said that he was feeling no issues physically today, and his shooting struggles were more of a rhythm issue. Hoping for a bounce-back game two.

Game two will be in Portland, on Tuesday, April 16th at 9:30 p.m. Thunder time. After that, both teams will head over to Oklahoma City for two games.

Keys to the Game

Rebounding: C

The Thunder outrebounded Portland 49-48. Considering Jusuf Nurkic is not playing, that is embarrassing. Enes Kanter is gonna rack up rebounds, but there has to be a better team effort to secure the basketball.

Bench: C

The Oklahoma City bench scored a total of 21 points, with 11 coming from Schröder, 8 from Nerlens Noel, and 2 from Markieff Morris. Schröder played 36 minutes with Terrance Ferguson practically being non-existent. There has to be more production for the Thunder to succeed. Relying on your stars will only get you so far.

Defend the Three: D

The Blazers shot 44.9 percent from three, but only made 11. That’s a 16 percent improvement over their season average versus Oklahoma City, but limiting Portland to only 11 made threes is a good thing. Lillard led the Blazers with 5-of-11 from three.

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Thunder Struggles

For the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder rank 5th in all the NBA for defensive rating. Prior to the All-Star break, Oklahoma City had a defensive rating of 105.2, good for third in the Association. Since the All Star break, though, the Thunder defense has struggled. Spending some time without MVP candidate Paul George, the team defense has registered a mediocre 110.9 defensive rating, which is below league average (17th). Effort, discipline, (possibly the addition of Markieff Morris?) and issues guarding the three point line are all to blame.

Paul George says the issues have nothing to do with personnel, and no lineup changes are needed.

 

The defensive struggles date back to the beginning of January (before January, OKC ranked in the top 5 for defensive rating in October, November and December).

 

In January, the Thunder’s stellar three-point shooting masked a poor defensive month. The Thunder shot an average of 30 three-point shots per night at a 40% clip, good for second best in the NBA. However, as we all know, the NBA is a make-or-miss league. When you are missing shots, you are going to struggle. Oklahoma City has lost five of their last six games. In those games, the team has collectively shot 68% from the free throw line on 28 attempts per game and 30.6% from three on 36 attempts per game. Paul George has been absent for three of the games, when the Thunder went 1-2, barely squeaking out a win against Memphis. During the All-Star break, Thunder fans were hopeful for the two-seed, but this skid has brought the Thunder all the way down to tied for 4th with the Rockets and the Trail Blazers, all sporting a record of 39-25. If this trend continues, the Thunder could easily drop to the 6th seed or worse. With 18 games left, and the second toughest remaining schedule in the NBA, the Thunder need to go 11-7 to reach the threshold of 50-wins, which most Thunder fans thought was guaranteed earlier in the season.

 

Predictions for next 5 and beyond:

 

 

@ POR March 7 W

@ LAC March 8 W

@ UTA March 11 W

@ IND March 13 L

Vs. BKN March 14 W

I believe the Thunder will come out and look like a different team on this road trip. Their defensive issues can be fixed with effort. Tonight will be Paul George’s second game back from injury, instilling comfort into the Thunder offense and defense. The switch will flip starting tonight in Portland when the Thunder take on the Trail Blazers, who the Thunder are 3-0 against this season. The game is scheduled to tip off on TNT at 9:30 p.m. Central time.

Once it is playoff time, the Thunder will be the four-seed for the second year in a row, playing against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. Houston seems to be rolling, and their remaining schedule is very weak, which will elevate them to the three-seed.

 

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Thunder sign Markieff Morris

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed 29-year old Markieff Morris off of the buyout market, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic.

This news serves as quite surprising, as Morris chose Oklahoma City over many others, notably including the Rockets, Lakers, and the Raptors.

Morris serves as a stretch four, and could serve as a big upgrade over Patrick Patterson. In 36 games this season for the Wizards, Morris averaged 11.5 points on 43.6 percent shooting (33.3 percent from three). His season high came early in the season versus Portland when he scored 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting (6-of-10 from three).

Morris has not played since December 26, 2018, because of a neck injury. On Feb. 11, Morris was cleared to play.

The Thunder have now filled up all of their open roster spots, with the two 10-day contract signings of guard Scotty Hopson and center Richard Soloman and most recently the signing of Markieff Morris. Don’t expect the 10-day contract signees to last more than 10 days. Expect the Thunder to wait until all of Deonte Burton’s two-way days are complete to sign him for the rest of the season. That would leave Oklahoma City with one more open roster spot, for possibly another buyout player.

Morris will not suit up tonight versus the Pelicans, so his debut is looking like Friday the Feb. 22 against the Utah Jazz at home.

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Thunder take care of business, beat New Orleans 122-116

The Thunder led by as much as 22 points on Thursday night versus the undermanned Pelicans, who were missing Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, and Nikola Mirotic. After New Orleans gave Oklahoma City a late scare in the fourth quarter, the home team wound up winning by the final score of 122-116.

Oklahoma City started the game very lackadaisical, and the lack of energy forced Billy Donovan to call a timeout only 2 minutes and 27 seconds into the game. The timeout seemed to work, as the Thunder responded immediately with a 12-2 run out of the timeout. That burst of energy in the first was short-lived, as six Oklahoma City turnovers and lapses on the defensive end mostly defined the opening 12 minutes. Although Russell Westbrook dished out six assists and Paul George went 3-of-4 from three, the Thunder and Pelicans ended the quarter tied at 28.

The second quarter was defined in the final five minutes. After seven or so minutes where both teams exchanged leads, the Thunder were able to take control. With five minutes until half, the Pelicans led 45 to 44. That would be the last time Alvin Gentry’s squad would hold the lead. The Thunder finished the half on a 21-8 run with a plethora of contributors, including Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant. The run was enough to take a comfortable 65-to-53 lead going into the second half.

The third quarter began with an 8-0 Oklahoma City run in the first minute, which ballooned the lead to 20 points. Included in the run was Russell Westbrook clinching his 14th triple-double of the season by grabbing a rebound just 16 seconds into the third. It appeared that a healthy lead would be enough to put a very injured New Orleans team to bed early, and the Thunder did manage to stave off a few runs by the Pelicans to keep them at bay. After leading by as much as 22 points, OKC settled for a 16 point lead heading into the final quarter; outscoring New Orleans 33-29.

In the fourth quarter, things went south for the Thunder. The same energy that they had towards the end of the second quarter and the third quarter was not there. The Pelicans got the Thunder lead down to as low as five points when Jrue Holiday started firing from three, but it was too late.

Oklahoma City increases their winning streak to four games and are now 30-18, 12 games over .500, tying a season high.

Russell Westbrook finished with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting (1-of-3 from three), 16 assists, and 17 rebounds.

Paul George finished with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting (6-of-10 from three), 11 rebounds, and seven assists.

All starters scored in double figures.

Both teams shot a combined 27 free throws (Oklahoma City 15, New Orleans 12)

The Thunder held the Pelicans to 10-of-36 from 3-point range.

The Thunder finish up their home stand on Sunday, Jan. 27, when the 34-12 Milwaukee Bucks visit Chesapeake Energy Arena at 5 p.m. Central. The game will be televised on ESPN as well as Fox Sports Oklahoma.

Keys to the Game

Free Throws: D

The Thunder shot 8-of-16 from the line, that’s atrocious. Russell Westbrook shot 4-of-8, and Paul George shot 1-of-4. Probably just an off night from the line, and luckily, it did not cost them the game.

Rebound the Ball: A

The Thunder out-rebounded the Pelicans 58-42, as they should with the Pelicans missing Anthony Davis and Julius Randle. Steven Adams racked up seven offensive boards of his 13.

Limit Turnovers: C

The Thunder turned the ball over six times in the first quarter, which included zero turnovers from Russell Westbrook. They took better care of the ball in the other quarters, only turning the ball over eight times for the rest of the game. If Oklahoma City didn’t turn the ball over so much in the first quarter, then the game would have been over much sooner.

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Paul George Clutch in win over Philly

The Thunder had lost five out of six games coming into today’s game on ABC versus the Philadelphia 76ers. Paul George insured that they would not lose today, as when the Thunder were down 115-113 after an ill-advised pass from Dennis Schroder, he hit a 3-pointer plus the foul, giving the Thunder a 117-115 lead that would ultimately be the final score, as Oklahoma City increased their winning streak versus Philadelphia to 19 straight wins.

Oklahoma City started the game off firing, and took a big lead that got up to as much as 31-to-15 in the first quarter. Philadelphia stabilized, and ended the first quarter on a 10-2 run. Ben Simmons’ length gave the shorter guards a difficult time, as Simmons converted on some layups with little to no resistance.

The second quarter was defined by the offensive rebounds and open jumpers that Oklahoma City gave up to Philadelphia. The Sixers made six threes and got seven offensive rebounds, compared to the Thunder’s two made threes and one offensive rebound. Schroder was 5-7 in the quarter, with both of the Thunder’s threes.

The third quarter saw Oklahoma City give up the lead early, tying the game at 65-65, but then responding with a 16-4 run. Russell Westbrook’s third quarter saw him make his only three of the game, a wide open catch and shoot three, the only type of three that Westbrook should be taking. George was a quiet 1-of-6 in the quarter, making a three pointer and four free throws. The Thunder went into the fourth quarter with a nine point lead.

The fourth quarter was a doozy. The lead looked like it was going to be stable about three minutes, as Oklahoma City and Philadelphia were trading baskets with not much pointing to a big run incoming. The 9-minute mark is where the tides started to shift. Philadelphia would cut erase the nine-point Oklahoma City lead and turn it into a two-point lead for the Sixers. Paul George would hit some major shots in the minutes that followed, including two threes. In addition, Terrance Ferguson, who finished the game with 11 points on 4-8 shooting (3-of-6 from three), hit a massive three to put Oklahoma City up 4 with 41.3 seconds left.

Some things then happened, like a Jimmy Butler three-point-play, then two Paul George free throws. Joel Embiid was fouled by Russell Westbrook on a three-point attempt, which was Westbrook’s sixth foul. Embiid ended up hitting all three free-throws, tying the game at 113.

Things got crazy afterwards. Schroder made a very poor pass after getting trapped on the baseline by two Philadelphia defenders, and Jimmy Butler intercepted the pass and made the layup to put the Sixers up 115-113.

Then, a man by the name of Paul George happened.

“We run that play so many times, routine play for us, got that screen from Steve-O,” Paul George said. “We need to be better at late game situations, that’s on us.”

George caught the ball on a screen, found an open look, and nailed a three-pointer as he was fouled, giving OKlahoma City the lead for good.

“That’s PG,” Russell Westbrook said. “You don’t get too excited anymore about those I mean they happen so many times. PG’s doing what PG does and we just got to see it and get a win.”

George finished with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Westbrook had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, and reserve Dennis Schroder also scored 21 points.

Note: Terrance Ferguson is now shooting 37.7 percent from three on 3.2 attempts per game while playing some very solid defense. He has been amazing for Oklahoma City as of recent.

Oklahoma City hasn’t lost to the Sixers since Nov. 15, 2008, in the 10th game of the OKC franchise’s existence. Since then, the Thunder have rolled off 19 straight wins. The two-thirds were against abysmal Sixers teams. The last third have been against solid opponents in Philadelphia.

Westbrook fouled out late in the fourth. His rivalry with Embiid continues to grow.

The Thunder travel to New York City on Monday, Martin Luther King day, to play the Knicks at 11:30 a.m. Thunder time.

Keys to the Game:

Force Turnovers A

The Thunder forced 17 Philadelphia turnovers, with 10 steals, turning them into 28 points. Ben Simmons turned the ball over six times, a high for both teams. The Thunder only turned the ball over 10 times.

Make Free Throws: A

The Thunder shot 23-26 (88.5 percent) from the line, with the only misses coming from Westbrook. Paul George was a perfect 11-for-11, proving crucial in the two point win. Good teams make their free throws, and that’s what the Thunder did today. Philadelphia shot 39 free throws, but only converted on 28 of them (71.8 percent).

Good Russ: B-

Westbrook shot 8-21 from the field, racked up 10 rebounds, and six assists, as well as four turnovers. His fourth quarter was filled with a lot of “Oh no Russ! Oh good job Russ!” He shot a questionable three, looking for a dagger while up four, which bricked and let to a Butler pull up three that dropped, then on the next possession, shot another three, but got the rebound and set Ferguson up perfectly for a wide open three that dropped. Westbrook did the absolute worst thing you could do up three, foul a three-point shooter, as well as foul out.

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Thunder pick up win against the Mavericks

The Thunder lost last night in Dallas, after taking a 101-95 lead with only a few minutes remaining. They turned the ball over multiple times and only scored 2 more points, as they lost 105-103.

Tonight was a completely different ballgame. Paul George went for 16 points and four steals in the first quarter as Oklahoma City jumped out to a 32-to-21 lead to end the quarter, and would eventually win 122-102.

Key components to why tonight’s game against Dallas was so different than last night’s game; Russell Westbrook. Westbrook finished with 32 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, on 13-of-24 shooting, compared to his atrocious 4-of-22 shooting game the previous night. His mid-range shooting and shot selection improved, as he only took one three-pointer tonight and made multiple pull-up 17 footers. Westbrook was very critical of himself after last night’s loss in his post-game interview, so tonight was a great way to bounce back.

Paul George had a difficult time after the first quarter, only scoring six points after his 16-point outburst. George was in foul trouble, with frustration setting in after some tough calls. He ended with five fouls on the night, and 22 points on 7-of-21 shooting, adding four steals, which all came in the first quarter.

Jerami Grant had a great game tonight, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and adding in some highlight dunks, one off of this lob from Russell Westbrook:

Terrance Ferguson started for the first time in a few games after being sidelined with an illness. His impact was seen in his play on the defensive end. His improvement since last season is a great sight for Thunder fans. High flying highlights like this lob from Russell Westbrook are amazing:

The game was in control for Oklahoma City the whole way. Dallas never led, and Oklahoma City’s largest lead was 22, two points less than what they ended up winning by.  The closest the game got was 9 points early in the second quarter, which jumped back up to 17 by the end of the first half. Dallas ran out of timeouts halfway through the third quarter, and actually tried to call one in the fourth quarter, which resulted in a technical foul and possession for Oklahoma City.

Harrison Barnes was unconscious from the three-point-line, shooting 7-of-9. Luka Doncic was held to 17 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Notorious Thunder killer J.J. Barea was 1-of-8 from the field, sporting a -8 plus-minus.

The Thunder improved to 23-13 with the win tonight, and remain in 3rd place in the Western Conference. The only team’s ahead of them at the 25-13 Warriors and the 23-11 Nuggets.

Oklahoma City travels to Los Angeles to play the Lakers, Wednesday at 9:30 Central on ESPN. LeBron James’ status for the game is unknown.

Keys to the Game

Force Turnovers A+

A Thunder franchise record was set tonight with the 29 turnovers forced. George and Westbrook both had four steals, while Jerami Grant had three. Their rotations were A+ tonight, with little lapses, and when they did, Billy Donovan was ready with a timeout to fix them.

Free Throws C

The Thunder went 24-for-35 from the line tonight. Steven Adams was the biggest contributor to the poor free throw shooting tonight. Adams went 2-of-8, while every other Thunder player only missed one at most. Russell Westbrook shot a perfect 6-of-6, a sight for sore eyes. Westbrook was an 80 percent+ free throw shooter up until the 2017-18 season. If he could get back up to 80 percent, that would be wonderful.

Russell Westbrook’s Play A

Whenever Westbrook shoots over 50 percent, that’s a win in my book. Combined with his triple double tonight, he was great. One complaint about him tonight was his five turnovers. There were a few IQ related plays that led to turnovers, but if he didn’t make those plays, he wouldn’t be Russell Westbrook. He limited his three-point attempts to only one tonight, which is great; he shouldn’t be taking any. He’s shooting under 25 percent on them this season.

 

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King George of Brooklyn

The Thunder won on Wednesday night 114-112 over the Brooklyn Nets. If you saw that score without context, you might think it was a closely fought battle all game.

The Thunder trailed by two points to end the first quarter. The deficient got worse and worse every quarter until a man by the name of Paul George showed up. George had a career high 25 points in the fourth quarter, as the Thunder outscored the Nets 39-19 to complete the largest comeback in Thunder history.

The game was defined by the three-point shooting. The Nets were 15-for-36 from the field tonight, and the Thunder were 13-for-38, with six of them coming from George.

Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 17 assists, and 15 rebounds tonight, his fifth 15-point, 15-assist, 15-rebound game of his career. Westbrook was 2-of-9 from the three-point-line tonight, adding another poor performance from downtown. There is no need for him to be shooting that many three-pointers. It’s a detriment to the team.

Paul George of course, was the man of the night. George had 47 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists on 15-of-27 shooting, 6-of-13 from three, and 11-of-14 from the free-throw-line. George was one point off of his 48 point career high.

“I got into a zone, a comfortable place, I stared off a little slow, the guys were behind me, and told me to just kept going,” George said.

George hit a hesitation three-pointer with 3.1 seconds left to put Oklahoma City in front 114-112. It was Oklahoma City’s first lead since they led 21-20 with 1:01 left in the first quarter. George scored or assisted on the Thunder’s final 20 points of the game. He scored 18 of them and assisting on Grant’s lone bucket late in the quarter.

The Thunder trailed by as many as 23 in the third quarter before Oklahoma City made their move. The Thunder were within 18 when the third quarter starter. Brooklyn kept the Thunder at bay for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter but that’s when George went bananas.

George scored all 25 of his fourth quarter points over the final 7:11 of the fourth quarter. He went 9-of-12 in the quarter. Russell Westbrook had four assists to George in the fourth quarter alone. George outscored the Nets 25-19 in the quarter and 25-11 over that 7:11 time frame.

“He never really got going at the start,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “He got it going and Russell and the group got him the ball.”

George’s 47 points were a career high with the Thunder. It tops his previous high of 43 against the Nuggets in February 2018.

Oklahoma City shot an atrocious 15-for-26 at the line tonight, which is just under 58 percent. Steven Adams was a contributor to the poor free-throw percentage, only making 1-out-of-6.

“I give them a lot of credit for their resilience, their competitiveness, being down for as much as we were at the start of the 4th quarter to make that comeback,” Donovan said.

Note: Hamidou Diallo returned for the first time since the scary fall in Golden State. Diallo played four minutes and had one point and two turnovers.

The Thunder are now 16-7, good enough for the second best record in the Western Conference, and are half games back of the first place 17-7 Nuggets.

Oklahoma City ends their road trip on Friday when they visit Chicago to play the Bulls (5-20) at 7:00 p.m. Thunder time.

Keys to the Game

Limit Turnovers: B

The Thunder turned the ball over 13 times, one less than their season average, and four less than they did versus the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. A few specific turnovers come to mind; Westbrook’s first two, the flashy pass that went off of Adams’ hands, and the other flashy pass that went off of Jerami Grant’s hands. Paul George had a very bad pass off an Oklahoma City steal that lead to a Nets three. The best practice to limit turnovers is to make smart decisions and solid passes. Mistakes will happen however, as these players are human.

Bench Production: F

The Thunder bench scored 18 points, compared to the starters’ 96 points. There were only three Thunder bench players to score; Dennis Schroder with 12, Nerlens Noel with five, and Diallo with one. 76 minutes were spread across the bench total, with the majority going to Schroder’s 30-minutes. Alex Abrines was next up with 18, and Noel was the last bench player with minutes in double-figures as he played 14. This game was ran by the Thunder stars, but it’s not always going to be that way. Players have to step up, like they have in previous games this season.

Get Abrines and Patterson looks from 3: D

Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson shot a combined three 3-pointers, while Russell Westbrook shot nine. Westbrook can of course create his own shot, so he is able to get more looks, but Abrines and Patterson are on the Thunder to shoot threes. If they aren’t receiving looks, they are dead weight. Abrines played 18 minutes while Patterson played only six.

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Thunder annihilate Pistons 110-83

Andre Drummond dunked off an assist from Reggie Jackson to begin the game. That was the only lead the Pistons had all night. The Thunder embarrassed the Pistons in their own arena, 110-83.

The game was defined by the stifling defense that Oklahoma City played. The Detroit Pistons shot 33 percent from the field, and 18 percent from three. The Thunder defense forced 15 turnovers.

“Just our rotations, thought we rotated really well,” Steven Adams said.

Oklahoma City is 15-7 on the year and are 15-3 since starting 0-4, the best record since then in the NBA.

“We weathered some turnovers in the first half, up by 10, then in the 3rd quarter we really established ourselves,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “It was a complete game by our guys on both ends of the floor.”

Terrance Ferguson returned from injury, and played 26 minutes. He only attempted one shot, a 3 pointer, and missed, but his main impact is never scoring. Terrance had 4 assists, a steal, and a great block on Andre Drummond. The steps that he has taken forward this season on the defensive end are massive to the Thunder.

“When you’re out like that, sometimes it can take you a while to get going, but it was great to see him come back in his first game and respond the way he did.”

Hamidou Diallo was cleared to play, but was still feeling some discomfort, so the Thunder ultimately held him out.

Steven Adams lead the Thunder in scoring tonight with 21 points on 7-8 shooting. while being 7-7 from the free throw line.

Russell Westbrook had a slow start to the game, being 0-of-4 and scoring his first points off of a layup. He had five turnovers in the game, and shot 2-of-7 from the three-point line. Still, he had 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting, with six assists and six rebounds.

Jerami Grant’s improvement as a player is a wonderful sight to see. Grant had 15 points on 5-6 shooting, which included 2 3s. Grant isn’t afraid to drive to the basket or shoot, and confidence is a major part of success in basketball. He’s long, athletic, and can defend at a high level.

The third quarter was the turning point in the game, as it was only a 10-point Oklahoma City lead heading into halftime. The Thunder outscored Detroit 37-19 while holding them to 35 percent shooting on only 20 shots. The Thunder shot 50 percent on 13-26 shooting. OKC turned the ball over zero times, and forced four turnovers on the defensive end. A great win to begin a three-game road trip.

The Thunder head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets for a Wednesday night showdown. Oklahoma City and Brooklyn is set to tip-off at 6:30 p.m. Thunder time.

Keys to the Game

Fast Break points: C

The Thunder forced 15 turnovers on the night and had 10 steals. The bad part, is that the Pistons also forced 17 turnovers and had 10 steals. Oklahoma City outscored the Pistons 10-9 in fast break points. The transition defense was stellar by both squads tonight, but OKC needs to keep turnovers down in future games. There were definitely some turnovers by Russell Westbrook and co. that could have been prevented by smarter play.

Free throws: A

Oklahoma City shot 85 percent from the line tonight, which is where you want to be. In addition, the dynamic duo of Steven Adams and Russell Westbrook, combined for 9-of-10 shooting from the line, which is a lot better than their season average. 20 free throws is four less than OKC’s season average, but if they can continue making free throws at at-least an 80 percent clip, they will be in great shape.

Bench: B

Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroder have been a bright spot for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, and continued that tonight. Dennis had 12 points nine rebounds and six assists on 6-of-13 shooting, while Nerlens had 12 points and eight rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting, including two blocks and two steals. Patrick Patterson had a rough game with minimal production, as well did Alex Abrines. Schroder and Noel carried the bench tonight, but in closer games, Abrines and Patterson are going to need to find looks from the 3-point line and knock them down.

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