Author - Marshall Clayton

Thunder refuse to play defense, lose to Blazers 117-106

It was another lowly performance from the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they lost 117-106 to the Portland Trailblazers on their home floor. They will enter tomorrow night, on a second night of a back to back, on a two game losing streak. This one hurts even more considering there was no Damian Lillard on the court for Portland.

The Thunder once again, with Roberson still out from injury, played awful defense giving up wide-open looks from deep and too many easy buckets underneath. Combine that with 14 Thunder turnovers and poor shooting from the floor, that will get Oklahoma City beat every time.

It was a pretty ugly first half from both teams, as they combined to turn the ball over 19 times while both teams also shot well under 50 percent from the floor.

Oklahoma City falls to 22-19 on the season, their third worst record in franchise history at the midway point.

It was the Thunder’s infamous second half meltdown that showed up once again, that led to the Blazers extending their lead to double digits midway through the third. Blazers led by as much as 20 at one point in the second half.

Even with Roberson out, the defense lacked energy and effort. Thunder all night long were late on rotations while also giving up many second chances on the offensive glass. They all around got out-hustled on that end of the floor.

“In last couple games we’ve really struggled defensively and that’s an area we really need to get back to” Billy Donovan opened up with. “The last 6 or 8 games defensively, we have had some slippage,” Donovan said.

Oklahoma City was outscored 36 to 25 in the third quarter, and Portland never looked back. CJ McCollum led the way, as he finished with 27 points on better than 50 percent shooting from the floor. Nurkic and Shabazz Napier also brought their best game, both putting up 21 and 20 points, respectively.

Offensively, the Thunder’s big three all shot under 50 percent from the floor, as the Thunder shot just 44 percent as a whole.

The big three had their moments, but it wasn’t enough, as Oklahoma City just could not get stops. George and Westbrook put up 22 points each, while Carmelo put up 19 points of his own. Adams also chipped in with 16 points.

Portland while struggling offensively in the first half, found their rhythm after halftime. They put up 63 second half points on better than 60 percent from the floor. Give them credit, as they hit some tough shots, but also seemed to get open looks all night long.

The Thunder have some glaring issues, mainly the second half meltdowns, as well as playing down to their opponents. That was much of the case tonight, as Portland was without their star player in Lillard, but nevertheless, seemed like the better team for most of the game.

After dropping these two very winnable games, the Thunder are now in danger of dropping three in a row, as they will go on the road to face a tough Minnesota team tomorrow night. Again, they will be without Roberson, and will need to find some answers defensively quickly if they want to come out on top tomorrow night.

Keys to the game

Win the third quarter: F

This one is obvious, as this was the quarter the Blazers blew it open. Thunder were outscored by 11, and had no life after the third quarter.

Defense: F

With Andre Roberson, this one is extra important but the Thunder couldn’t come through on this one. They gave up 117 points, and were just awful defensively in that second half.

Rebound: F

Bad grades all around, as the Thunder were out-rebounded by the Blazers, while also giving up too many second chances on the offensive glass. Thunder did pull down 11 offensive rebounds of their own, but obviously it wasn’t enough to not get beat by double digits on their home floor.

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Thunder Digits: Adams, OKC defense saves the day

After an embarrassing home loss to the Charlotte Hornets, the Oklahoma City Thunder responded with a gritty 100-95 road win over the Indiana Pacers. It was pretty ugly offensively, especially for the Big Three. It was the Thunder’s defense that kept them alive and a big game from Steven Adams that led the way to the win. Here are some key numbers from tonight’s win.

23

Adams had a monumental in tonight’s win, putting up 23 points on 69 percent shooting from the floor. He also added 13 rebounds, nine of those being on the offensive end. He gave the Thunder many second chances offensively, and was by far the most physical player on the court.

34

It was an awful night for Thunder’s big three, who were abysmal from the floor, and only combined for 34 of the team’s 100 points. They also combined to shoot just 22 percent from the floor, none of the three stars hitting more than four total field goals all night.

29

It was a big night for the Thunder bench, who combined for 29 bench points. They were very consistent, even when all of the big three were out of the game. They were either cutting down deficits or maintaining the lead for Oklahoma City. Patrick Patterson was a bright spot who looked like a guy the Thunder need, playing great defense and hitting big three-pointers.

9

Even with his shot not falling most of the night, Westbrook made his presence known with his ninth triple double of the season. He finished the night with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. Westbrook and Adams two-man game was very strong tonight, while also Russell got Oklahoma City in transition with all his rebounds on the defensive end.

14

Alex Abrines continues to flourish while being in the starting lineup for the injured Andre Roberson. He finished the night with 14 points on 63 percent shooting from the floor. He had a key offensive putback late in the fourth that gave Oklahoma City the lead, while also hitting four of his six three-point attempts throughout the game. Abrines had a slow start to the season, but has really found his stride in the last couple weeks.

18

A big difference in this game was the free throw numbers. Oklahoma City shot 18 more free throws than Indiana did. The Pacers shot just six free throws, compared to the Thunder’s 24 attempts. Even though Oklahoma City only made 15 of those attempts, the poor percentage did not matter since they shot so many more than Indiana.

19

Victor Oladipo has been on fire much of the season, and it was crucial Oklahoma City slowed him down in order for the Thunder to get a win tonight. Victor did finish with a solid 19 points, but Oklahoma City held him to just 37 percent shooting from the floor. That is even more impressive considering that Thunder’s best perimeter defender in Roberson was out tonight.

13

When Oklahoma City can hit a decent amount of three-pointers at a good percentage, it usually leads to good things. The Thunder hit 13 total threes tonight, four of those coming from the bench unit. They shot 45 percent from three, even though it was a rough night offensively for the big three. Abrines led the way with his four makes from deep, while Carmelo and George each hit two from deep as well.

2.5

After tonight’s win, it probably shows Oklahoma City fans should not be in panic mode, as they are just 2.5 games back from the four seed. Thunder currently sit at the eight seed, just a game below .500. If the Thunder can string a few together in the next couple weeks, they will be right at the top half of the conference once again.

 

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Dígitos el Thunder: OKC malgasta otro plomo de dos cifras

Fue una fea noche en la ciudad de México en cuanto a los Oklahoma City Thunder, que perdieron un feo a las Nets de Brooklyn 100-95. Los Thunder estaban sin Paul George y Jerami Grant pero no disculpa este resultado. Era una cuestión de mala selección de tiro y la falta de esfuerzo que han contribuido a esta pérdida, el 13 de la temporada para el Thunder . Aquí están algunos números claves en la pérdida de esta noche:

52.2

Esto fue definitivamente un cambiador de juego, como el Thunder tiro sólo el 52.2 por ciento de la banda de la caridad. Que lleguen a 12 de sus 23 intentos. Si el Thunder podría tener sólo un golpe un poco más, probablemente evitar esta terrible pérdida.

32

Era sólo una noche de los porcentajes de pobres, como Russell Westbrook y Carmelo Anthony combinaron para disparar un 32 por ciento de la planta. Westbrook golpeó sólo 10 de sus 27 intentos, mientras que Melo golpeó sólo cinco de sus 20 intentos. Pasar noches ásperas de tiros, pero una gran parte de esto fue simplemente mala selección.

16

A pesar de que los Nets hacen su gran correr temprano en el tercer trimestre, Oklahoma City agrava jugando muy mal en el cuarto trimestre, anotando solamente 16 puntos total. Tiraron a 28 por ciento en el cuarto, mientras gira el balón más de tres veces así. Brooklyn mientras tanto aguantar 26 en el cuarto, superar a Oklahoma City por dos dígitos.

22

Con dos jugadores de Thunder hacia fuera con lesiones, Kyle Singler se intensificó, jugar 22 minutos esta noche. Él jugó bastante bien teniendo en cuenta no tocar durante un largo periodo de tiempo. Terminó la noche con nueve puntos y un plus-2 en la categoría de más/menos.



18

Ofensiva de Oklahoma City fue muy estancada esta noche, terminando con sólo 18 asistencias en su conjunto. La primera mitad fue mucho mejor, con el Thunder moviendo bien la bola y consiguiendo una ventaja de dos dígitos. Oklahoma City tuvo sólo cinco segunda mitad ayuda total.

14

Como ya hemos visto mucho esta temporada, ciudad de Oklahoma fue ofensivamente en la segunda mitad, mientras que superó por 14. Los Nets poner 51 puntos en la segunda mitad, en comparación con sólo 37 por Oklahoma City.

16

El Thunder una vez liderado por 16, en que otro juego perdieron donde condujeron por dos dígitos. Muchos problemas podrían resolverse si este equipo podría mantener el foco durante 48 minutos.

-38

Quizás el número más feo de la noche, arrancadores de Oklahoma City fueron un combinado -38 en la categoría de plus-minus. El único que tuvo una positiva calificación neta era irónicamente, Carmelo Anthony. Steven Adams terminó con un -13 aunque él fue de lejos el mejor jugador de Oklahoma City esta noche, terminando con 12 puntos y 14

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Thunder Digits: OKC squanders another double-digit lead

It was an ugly night in Mexico City as far as the Oklahoma City Thunder were concerned, as they lost an ugly one to the Brooklyn Nets 100-95. The Thunder were without Paul George and Jerami Grant but that doesn’t excuse this outcome. It was a matter of poor shot selection and a lack of effort that contributed to this loss, the 13th of the season for the Thunder. Here are some key numbers in tonight’s loss:

52.2 percent

This was definitely a game changer, as the Thunder shot just 52.2 percent from the charity stripe. They hit just 12 of their 22 attempts. If the Thunder could have just a hit a few more, they probably avoid this awful loss.

32 percent

It was just a night of poor percentages, as Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony combined to shoot 32 percent from the floor. Westbrook hit just 10 of his 27 attempts, while Melo hit only five of his 20 attempts. Rough shooting nights do happen, but a big part of this was just poor shot selection.

16

Even though the Nets made their big run early in the third quarter, Oklahoma City compounded that by playing very poorly in the fourth quarter, only scoring 16 total points. They shot 28 percent in the fourth, while turning the ball over three times as well. Brooklyn meanwhile put up 26 in the fourth, outscoring Oklahoma City by double digits.

22

With two Thunder players out with injuries, Kyle Singler stepped up, playing 22 minutes tonight. He played pretty well considering not playing for a long period of time. He finished the night with nine points and a plus-2 in the plus/minus category.

18

Oklahoma City’s offense was very stagnant tonight, finishing with just 18 assists as a whole. The first half was a lot better, with the Thunder moving the ball well and getting a double-digit lead. Oklahoma City only had five second half assists total.

14

As we have seen a lot this season, Oklahoma City went cold offensively in the second half, while getting outscored by 14. The Nets put up 51 points in the second half, compared to just 37 by Oklahoma City.

16

The Thunder once led by 16, in which another game they lost where they led by double digits. A lot of problems could be solved if this team could keep the focus for 48 minutes.

-38

Maybe the most ugly number of the night, Oklahoma City’s starters were a combined -38 in the plus-minus category. The only one that had a positive net rating was ironically, Carmelo Anthony. Steven Adams finished with a -13 even though he was by far the best player for Oklahoma City tonight, finishing with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keys to the game

Rebound: A

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

Less is more: F

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

Get to the line: B

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

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Thunder Digits: OKC blows out Warriors at home

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

34

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

26

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

11

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

22

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

76

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

32 

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

37

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

+10

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

9

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

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Thunder blow another early lead, OKC lose to Spurs 104-101

It was another blown lead by the Oklahoma City Thunder as they drop a 104-101 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio on Friday night.

It is something Thunder fans have become way too familiar with early this season: Thunder start strong, gain a big lead, then spend the rest of the game playing undisciplined and end up losing a game they should have won. Oklahoma City found themselves up by as much as 23 points in the first half, but answered that strong early play reverting back to iso ball, and lack of effort on the defensive end.

Oklahoma City began the game holding the Spurs to just 15 points in the first quarter, but the defense broke down midway through the second quarter. The Thunder gave up 89 points in the next three quarters, giving up plenty of offensive boards and wide open three-pointers.

San Antonio hit 14 total three-pointers tonight, shooting 40 percent from deep. They also out-rebounded Oklahoma City, as well shot better from the charity stripe.

Oklahoma City built their early lead off of Spurs first quarter turnovers, turning the ball over seven times in the first 12 minutes of the game. After that first half, the Spurs cleaned it up. They only turned it over four times in the second half and the Thunder just couldn’t hold off the comeback any longer.

Thunder did build a big lead, but it was very early. The Spurs were back within single-digits before halftime, and the second half was pretty much back and forth the whole way.

Billy Donovan was asked about the great start, and then letting the Spurs back into the game, “Obviously we got off to a great start, but playing on the road you know the home team was going to make a run” Donovan said. “I didn’t think that was going to continue or maintain for the whole game,” he continued.

Billy went on to talk about how the Thunder did not close the first half well, and it was a back and forth battle from there on out, and a game of runs the whole second half.

It wasn’t a great night shooting wise from Thunder’s big three, but Russell Westbrook was especially bad. He hit only five of his 22 attempts from the field, at one point missing 11 shots in a row. He was frustrated much of the night, and when he struggles like this, it will most likely result in a loss for Oklahoma City. He finished with just 15 points.

Paul George also struggled offensively, hitting only five of his 16 field goal attempts for 18 points.

Carmelo was far and away the best offensively tonight, putting up a team-high 20 points on nine for 17 shooting from the floor.

Even though their was plenty of iso ball, the Thunder moved the basketball pretty well for the most part except for in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City continues to revert to old habits in crunch time. As the season goes on, hopefully that is something the Thunder can avoid.

Oklahoma City had plenty of chances late to tie this one up. After missing two three pointers that were open looks, Carmelo hit a shot that was initially ruled a three-pointer, but was just a long two after the review.

Still, after Spurs hit a couple free throws, Oklahoma City had one more chance. The Thunder tried to get a look from deep but ran a very ugly inbounds play that ended up with Westbrook heaving the ball with one hand towards the basket.

Late game execution continues to be a thorn in Thunder’s side, and something they will need to be working on continuously up till playoff time in April.

For the Spurs, it was a total team effort, as everyone chipped in offensively. They were once again without their superstar in Kawhi Leonard, which makes this win even more impressive for San Antonio.

Guys like Danny Green, Manu, and Davis Bertans hit big shots from long distance all game long. Aldridge also did his part, putting up a game-high 26 points along with a few key offensive rebounds late in the game.

For Oklahoma City, it is the same story as it has been all season long: being able to stay focused and maintaining leads. The Thunder now have eight losses on the season, and the majority of those they had significant leads but ended up losing it at the end.

The Thunder are now once again below .500, and have a tough few games coming up, including the Golden State Warriors in just 5 days. Next up: at the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night.

Keys to the game

Lawler’s law: F

As mentioned in the pre-game, the Spurs were 7-0 this season when they put up 100 points or more. Make that 8-0 as they win tonight, with scoring 104 points. Thunder fall to 1-7 on the season when they give up 100 points or more.

Control fast break: A

Oklahoma City definitely slowed down the Spurs, holding them just nine fast break points. The Spurs made up for that by protecting the ball in the second half, and getting plenty of second chances off the offensive glass.

Get to the line: D

Oklahoma City only shot 21 free throws, compared to the Spurs’ 28 attempts. The Thunder were aggressive, but did not get to the line as much as they would have liked, and only hit 14 of their 21 attempts. This game might end differently if Oklahoma City takes advantage of the easy points.

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Thunder Digits: OKC bounces back behind big night from George

The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to snap their four-game losing streak with a strong win at home over the Los Angeles Clippers, with a final score of 120-111. It was a big night for Thunder’s big three, especially Paul George. Oklahoma City also got nice contributions from a number of different role players in different areas of the game. Here are some interesting numbers from Friday night’s win:

42

Paul George was on fire tonight from the very beginning. He put up 21 by halftime, and finished the game with 42 points. He made 13 of his 22 field goal attempts, including hitting four three-pointers.

40

Up to this point, Oklahoma City has struggled to get to the free throw line. That was not the case tonight, as the Thunder shot 40 free throws, hitting 29 of them. Both Westbrook and George led the way, as they relentlessly attacked the basket and were able to make it count.

14

It was also a very solid night from Alex Abrines, who quietly played his best game yet thus far in the season. He finished with 14 points, while hitting three of his four attempts from deep. This is the Abrines the Thunder are looking for to contribute nightly off the bench.

12

As aggressive and assertive George and Westbrook were, Anthony was the one who picked his spots. He only attempted 12 shots, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Though he did not shoot much, Carmelo contributed in a lot of different ways. He was very good defensively, and found a lot of open guys for three-pointers when he was backing down the opponent in the low post.

Plus-26

With Steven Adams out, Dakari Johnson got his first career start, and it paid off big time. Johnson ended the night with a plus-26 in the plus/minus category. He showed flashes with some great ball movement when he had the ball, solid defense on DeAndre Jordan, and even hit a nice mid-range jumper in crunch time. Johnson played 23 minutes, and probably would’ve played more without the foul trouble he had. I don’t know if Donovan will be able to find minutes when Adams is back, but Dakari definitely gave the coaching staff something to look at.

42.3 percent

The Thunder have taken a lot of threes this season, but haven’t consistently hit those. Tonight, they had a very solid night, shooting 42.3 percent from deep. They hit 11 threes total, over half of those coming from Paul George and Abrines.

19

Oklahoma City’s defense isn’t necessarily dominant, but they sure know how to get the opponent to turn over the ball at a high rate. That was no different tonight, as the Clippers turned it over 19 times. The Thunder consistently deflected passes, and came up with a lot of easy steals.

5

Five technical fouls total were called tonight, three on Oklahoma City and two on Los Angeles. Both teams were pretty talkative with the officials, and obviously the referees grew impatient throughout the night.

52 percent

All in all, the Thunder were in need of a big win to turn things around, and the Oklahoma City’s big three came through when it mattered. They combined to shoot 52 percent from the field, putting up 78 points all together. Hopefully they can build off this win, and maybe win a few in a row to get everything back on track.

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Thunder Digits: This wasn’t fun

It was a disappointing night as the Oklahoma City Thunder blew an 18-point lead and lose a close one at home to the Boston Celtics. It was a dominant first half from the Thunder, followed by a very poor second half on both ends. Here are some interesting digits from Friday’s loss:

18

As mentioned above, Oklahoma City led by 18 at one point, which is what they led at halftime. It was an excellent performance in the first half, but just fell flat in the second half.

33 

For people looking for silver linings, this one is for you. In a game the Thunder dominated for the first half and led majority of the way, it was an awful night shooting wise for the big three. George, Westbrook and Anthony combined to shoot 33 percent from the floor. If just one of the big three has a good night offensively, this game probably has a totally different outcome.

6

This number isn’t really significant in the grand scheme of things, but it matters. Patrick Patterson is a guy who has struggled early, mostly due to not having any preseason because of a knee procedure he was recovering from. Tonight, Patterson hit two of his three three-point attempts and finished with six points. He is a guy that is looking more and more himself each game, and can become a huge help to this team.

64

The Thunder defense was stellar in the first half, and pretty much the opposite in the following half. Boston put up 64 points in the second half, after being held to just 37 in the first half.

25

On top of the defense falling out, the offense did much of the same. The Thunder were outscored by 25 points in the second half, 64 to 39. It really was a tale of two different halves of basketball, and give Boston credit for responding perfectly after a terrible first half.

1-for-12

Out of Thunder’s big three, Carmelo was the one that struggled most, especially in the second half. Anthony finished with one made field goal out of 12 attempts in the second half, his worst half of shooting in his career.

22

To say Kyrie Irving is unfair would be an understatement. He was the Thunder killer in the second half, putting up 22 of his 25 points in the second half. He had a huge fourth quarter as well along with Al Horford who had his fair share of daggers in this one.

11

Another bright spot in this tough loss is Jerami Grant. He has continued to improve his game and it showed on Friday night. He finished with 11 points on 71 percent shooting from the floor. He showed a flurry of different things he can do like, hitting the outside shot, taking advantage of the smaller defender and also dunking on any opposing player possible. Grant has quietly become Thunder’s best player off the bench so far this season and his jump offensively from last year to this year is a delightful surprise.

13

Al Horford is a top-tier center in this league and it showed on Friday. He was phenomenal offensively, especially in the fourth quarter. He was on fire from deep, hitting all three of his three-point attempts, and shot overall 100 percent from the floor in the final quarter. He finished with 13 points in the quarter, 20 in the whole game.

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Thunder drop another one to Minnesota

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost another tight one in the last moments, 119-116, to the Minnesota Timberwolves dropping to 0-2 to the Wolves on the season. It was another high-scoring affair against this physical Minnesota team. The Thunder are now 2-3 on the season.

The Thunder have been very good defensively up until tonight, only giving up about 96 points per game. That was not the case tonight, as the Timberwolves lived off of second chance points and points in the paint, all the while putting up a whopping 119 points.

The whole story of the game was Minnesota wanting it more, especially late in the game. They seemed to get every loose ball, and killed Oklahoma City on the offensive glass. Too many times tonight the Thunder were giving up second chance points and were just plainly out hustled by the Wolves.

“I thought we played really really well in the first 18 minutes,” Billy Donovan said about the second half play by the Thunder, “I thought the last six minutes of the fourth quarter we really struggled on both ends of the floor.”

When asked about what the difference was, Donovan mentioned the rebounding.  “That was really the difference in the game,” Donovan said. Oklahoma City was out-rebounded by nine boards tonight. They also gave up 17 offensive rebounds.

Oklahoma City also put the Timberwolves on the charity stripe a lot tonight, 35 times to be exact. Minnesota shot 10 more free throws than the Thunder did. There might’ve been some questionable officiating, but the Thunder were also not defending without fouling tonight.

With all that said, Oklahoma City still had a chance to tie this game and send it into overtime. After a Jeff Teague missed free throw, Carmelo Anthony had a decent look at a potential game tying three-pointer but missed it.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Thunder looked overall as a unit, as good as they looked all season despite the tough loss. Four different Thunder players scored more than 20 points and as a team they shot 50 percent from the floor.

Both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George found their groove early on, both finishing with 23 points each. They finished both shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.

Adams also had a monster game, much like he did the last time these two teams met. Adams finished the night with 20 points and eight rebounds. He also shot an excellent 80 percent from the floor.

Westbrook was very methodical on offense, picking his spots when to attack and when to find the open man. He had another all-around night finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists.

Though with all the positives offensively, the Thunder just could not get the job done defensively. Karl Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler led the way for Minnesota.

Towns had a huge night, on both ends, putting up 33 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks. He struggled defensively last time the Wolves played the Thunder but he was a monster tonight.

Butler finished his night with 25 points and closed the game very well to seal the win for the Timberwolves.

Billy Donovan also loved what he saw with the bigger lineups for the Thunder tonight. Often he went with Jerami Grant and Josh Huestis over Andre Roberson in the lineups. These taller lineups were successful but obviously struggled to get stops defensively. With the emergence of Huestis, these type of lineups could be seen a lot more down the road.

Roberson only played nine minutes tonight. That could be because of the bigger lineups ran by Donovan and also him being too much of a liability on the offensive end, though his defending was definitely missed.

Both games versus the Timberwolves have been very close, but still losses for Oklahoma City. It is still early, but these two losses to a divisional rival could have big implications when it comes to playoff-seeding time in April.

The Thunder will have to shake this loss off quickly though, since they travel to Chicago to face the Bulls tomorrow night. Chicago being just 1-3 on the season, it is a good chance for Oklahoma City to bounce back before facing off against a very good Milwaukee team.  Thunder tip is set for 7 p.m. CST on Saturday night.

Keys to the game

Win the rebounding battle: F

This was obviously the biggest problem Oklahoma City struggled all game with. Towns and company dominated the glass and kept possessions alive all game long. If the Thunder could’ve just secured a couple more rebounds, we might be talking about a different outcome.

Limit the turnovers:  C

Oklahoma City has been a turnover machine early in this season, and they could not afford to do that against a Minnesota team that is good in transition. The Thunder only turned it over 14 times, which isn’t too bad all things considered, but they still took the loss so they only get an average grade here.

Big night for big three: A

Even though with the loss, there is a slight moral victory here. Oklahoma City’s big three continue to improve their chemistry and they all three looked comfortable offensively tonight. They combined for 73 points on better than 50 percent shooting from the floor. Hopefully they can build on this Saturday night versus Chicago.

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