Author - Ross Lovelace

Too good to be bad, the 2019-20 Oklahoma City Thunder

With an offseason full of turnover and change, questions were sure to follow. The Thunder lost both of their All-stars and received back an unheard of amount of draft picks in exchange. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is questioning how bright OKC’s future is, as they appear to be set for the next decade. But after evaluation of the offseason and the dust settling, the season is only eight days away with some Thunder fans whispering… “is this team too good to be bad?”

A new look roster will take fans time to adjust to, no question. But could change be all that bad? The Thunder will seemingly run a variety of offensive sets and move the ball like fans have never seen. While that won’t necessarily translate to the amount of success Thunder fans are used to, it fits the playing style of young star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and will help groom Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo. An effective offensive playbook is more sustainable and will help the Thunder’s transition into this new look team.

After watching the first couple preseason games, the Thunder have to be excited in what they have. Cornerstones in SGA, Terrance Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo, and Darius Bazley all twenty one years or younger. It’s a new era of Thunder basketball, and while the old era will no question be missed, there’s absolutely no reason to not be excited about the one about to start. Veterans leading the way, extraordinary talent, and potential oozing everywhere.

Thunder fans should expect ball movement, a nasty pick and roll with Chris Paul and Steven Adams, and some of the most athletic young players in the NBA. The last ten years of Thunder basketball can be classified by what if’s, missed opportunities, and ultimately falling short of the end goal. Starting this season, the Thunder can capitalize on a new opportunity and do something no Thunder team has done. Not to say that this team is going to win a title, being realistic in this rebuild is key, but the foundation is being set as we speak.

This isn’t exactly a rebuild, though. A rebuild is what Knicks and Suns fans have had to suffer through and what Cavs and Bulls fans are going through at the moment. No, a rebuild isn’t exactly having a roster with a 9x all-star to go along with a top ten center in Steven Adams, and a player like Danilo Gallinari who averaged nearly twenty points per game while staying within three percent of the historic 50-40-90 club.

With the veteran talent there, the key in this excitement lies in the hands of budding star Shai Gilgeous Alexander and rookie Darius Bazley. SGA clearly has all-star potential and fans should be thrilled that he gets to sit back and learn from someone the caliber of Chris Paul. Not to take away anything from Russell Westbrook, but if there’s one thing he wasn’t, it was a traditional point guard. Chris Paul is one of the most fundamental players in the game, and not only is he ready to contribute to this years Thunder team, but he’s fully on board for helping prepare SGA for the future.

Darius Bazley on the other hand, is a player many Thunder fans were confused by or even disappointed by on draft night. A player many thought was a sure fire assignment to the OKC Blue. Then he comes in and plays incredibly well in the Summer League and has even started games in the preseason. Through those two preseason games, Bazley is averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the Thunder. This kid is 19 years old. When is the last time the Thunder had young talent like this to be excited about?

Not to mention Dunk Contest Champion Hamidou Diallo and a player in Terrance Ferguson who showed incredible growth last year and was almost automatic from behind the three point line during a stretch of the season.

This Thunder team is too good to be bad. If people are expecting the Thunder to tank and find themselves in the lottery with the roster they’ve accumulated, I’m just not sure that’s possible. With a mix of veterans stability, young potential all-stars, and quality depth to the tenth player on the bench, this roster is more than competitive. Do they deserve expectations of every Thunder team for the past twelve years? Absolutely not. They are young and unproven, but they sure as hell shouldn’t be expected to roll over and win twenty games. Yes, this team and roster will be very different than years past, but this team will be intriguing, fun, and beyond exciting to watch.

I remember a day almost a decade ago when young stars Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden had a city behind them. Every game was sold out. It was sensory overload. The hopes of an NBA Title seemed so close and real you could taste it, and the excitement and buzz could be felt all throughout the arena. The Oklahoma City Thunder was the only thing on every Oklahoman’s mind. Those days were the days that Thunder fans become universally known as the best fans in the NBA.

This new exciting group of young playmakers deserve nothing less. Talent, potential, and a fresh start should motivate you as fans to welcome this new era of Thunder basketball and take on a new excitement as we embark on the future. Yes, Thunder basketball will be different, but who’s ready to have some fun?

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thank you, Russ.

Russell Westbrook, where do we start?

The young rookie with a bad shot selection and a big smile. The transformative point guard that led his team to the NBA Finals. The MVP. The man who helped build Oklahoma City from the ground up. The man who gave us a name. The man who made us proud to live here, proud to wear Thunder blue. The one that kids idolized, and a bond fathers and sons were able to share. Through the good and the bad, the wins and the losses, the history and the milestones, Russell Westbrook doesn’t just mean everything to Oklahoma City – he is, and always will be, Oklahoma City.

Growing up as a young kid I knew two things: Oklahoma Football and Thunder Basketball. One of those ended up being common ground for everyone. When the Thunder first moved to Oklahoma City, it was an exciting time to live here. Yeah, we didn’t know what to expect but pretty soon, you showed us. With your one handed alley-oop against Sacramento, your absolute poster on Lamar Odom, you gave us a bright future. Because of you, Thunder fans had something to look forward to. The first Thunder jersey I ever purchased had the name WESTBROOK stamped on the back of it and as a 9-year old boy, I had never been more proud to wear something in my entire life. You committed to not change the culture in Oklahoma City, but create the culture in Oklahoma City.

From early years, with Russell, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, the Oklahoma City Thunder was born. The happiest, most invested, and most involved this city had ever been came from a game of basketball. Centered in that game of basketball, right smack dab in the middle, was and always will be Russell Westbrook. From the infamous and-one against the Lakers in one of the Thunder’s first playoff series ever, Russell Westbrook started his legacy in Oklahoma City and it grew to be the greatest ever.

Thank you Russell Westbrook for not just giving your all on the court, but giving your all to the community since the day you got here. Thank you for investing in us with your Why Not Foundation, building countless reading rooms and basketball courts, and also providing holiday meals for those in need. We will never forget you showing up to the tornado cleanup in a wheelchair after you just had surgery. Thank you for inspiring kids and adults all across Oklahoma to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Russell Westbrook gave every Thunder fan their absolute favorite basketball moment of all time, right? How about his epic second half against the Magic, the buzzer beater at Denver in a historic night, his furious playoff rally that included forty-five points against Utah? My personal favorite, his dagger three against Golden State and dapping up his brother in Game 5. If you’re a Thunder fan in the slightest, you remember all of these moments vividly. At some point in this life, Russell Westbrook has made you feel alive, on top of the world. His energy and passion for the game, changed this franchise and the game itself for the better.

But it’s not just the memories that fans will have to cherish, his legacy is cemented in statistical history, where the entire NBA will speak of his records and play for generations to come. Russell Westbrook took on tasks that most simply wouldn’t. He led a team of nobody’s to the playoffs while averaging a triple-double and 32 points per game. When the going got tough, Russell Westbrook got going. Thank you to Russell Westbrook for teaching us the value of grit and toughness. To not run from our problems, yet attack them head on.

Most importantly though, Russ, thank you for being loyal. Always. Thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for building this city up from the ground and finishing what you started. For giving it all you had and performing at the highest level the game of basketball has ever seen no matter what cats you had on your team.

You, Russell Westbrook, are the most under-appreciated athlete of all time. Because of you, we witnessed sheer and utter greatness. Thank you for not leaving us, for bringing people with you, and for bringing out the best in all of your teammates. We are forever better because of you.

Thank you, in your career, for staying true to yourself and to the Thunder. Thank you for teaching us how to be really good at not giving a [expletive] about what people think. You taught an entire state how to adapt to your situation, yet not change who you are. You are the epitome of confidence. You don’t have time for others opinions, you’re gonna go get it done (Go home, Mr. Embiid.) You’re a real one, one of the best to ever do it.

From the time you stepped on the court, people would find something to complain about every other week. Your shot selection, style of play, saying people can’t win with you. Well we know now, that people do everything in their power to hate on greatness. You didn’t deserve any hate and the people who got the chance to play with you make that known. Thank you for being you, Russell Westbrook.

When your pal Kevin Durant decided to take off, we were dead in the water. We were down for the count and the future looked so dark. Thunder fans were ready to call it quits until you did the most Russell Westbrook thing possible. You showed us how to be the greatest, and an underdog, at the same time. Loyalty in the NBA is just a word but through your actions, the fans of this wonderful city actually came to believe it meant something for once. Through everything that had just happened, you were a beacon of light and hope. You took on the challenge and revamped the city as a whole, giving us our hope back and bringing with you a positive outlook on the city. Your MVP season made fans scared to miss a game, because who wants to miss out on greatness. There is no doubt you are the greatest player to ever put on a Thunder jersey, next question.

Russell Westbrook is Oklahoma City and I cannot explain how weird these next couple of years will be. Thank you Russ, for giving a kid the chance to dream, and for being the reason I fell in love with the game of basketball. Watching you play brought so many life long lessons, and the chance to see one of the greatest NBA players of all time blossom right before my very own eyes. Thank you for igniting a fire in a state, its city, and most importantly its people.

What a crazy ride it’s been, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Thank you for being you, Russell Westbrook, you are – and forever will be – Oklahoma City. Go get yourself a damn ring, Brodie.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunderous Enjoyment

In past years, most Thunder fans watched Thunder games simply because they carry around the title of being a Thunder fan. Sometimes not because they genuinely wanted to, but because they felt obligated to. You think we wanted to watch last year’s back-to-back dismantling losses to the cellar dwelling Mavericks and the dysfunctional Magic? Maybe it was the sheer brilliance of Russell Westbrook kept us fans interested for a couple years here and there. However, we all knew those teams had a ceiling, and it wasn’t a very high one. Since 2015-16 there has been a cloud of doubt and pessimism surrounding the Thunder in terms of simply contending. I’m here to let you all know, today, the cloud is gone and should be gone for the long run.

It seems the let downs of years past are long gone and forgotten. Past Thunder teams seemed to always have let down games and lose games they should have never lost. A common theme was energy and horrendous shooting, combined with sloppy play and turnovers. The Thunder we were used to watching used to not show up for certain games. Watching this years team, it feels as if they are rewriting the script and changing the narrative. The theme of this year’s team has been almost unheard of in the NBA. A defensive minded offensive juggernaut that can beat the brakes off of any team on any given night.

The main visual representation of this new Thunder team is the growth and consistency of role players. Gone are the days of Semaj Christon and Ronnie Price duking it out for the backup point guard spot. The Thunder have an incredibly consistent and reliable scoring option of the bench in Dennis Schroeder. The pick-n-roll with he and Nerlens Noel make the second unit… fun to watch, something us fans haven’t been able to say for years. Adding to the bench play is a new toy for Billy Donovan to use in Markieff Morris. His fit with the Thunder is extremely interesting, as he is so versatile and can guard so many positions. The bolstered bench isn’t the only aspect that marks OKC’s improvement. It starts with the two most unappreciated, but most valued pieces in Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson. Both enjoying career years, they could arguably be the reason for the Thunder’s recent success and winning play the last two months.

Terrance Ferguson has turned into the three-and-D player the Thunder have been looking for since they became a franchise. His growth as a player has been incredible to watch. Even after an incredibly slow start, he is still shooting a stellar 38.3 percent from beyond the arc. He’s guarding at a very high clip as well. Not only is his scoring a good thing for the Thunder, but the fact other teams have to respect him is absolutely huge for a Thunder team that runs on drive-first minded point guards. To create any hesitation on who to guard makes decisions for Westbrook pretty simple. The way he spaces the floor opens up a whole new element to this Thunder team. Since Jan. 8, Ferguson chipped in nearly twelve points per game while shooting 46.4 percent from three point range. If he is able to keep the same efficiency, that is what makes a good Thunder team great.

The next piece to this puzzle that has slowly formed is budding star Jerami Grant. Grant is having his best professional averaging career highs in minutes, points, three point percentage, and rebounds. His ability to guard literally all five positions on the floor is his biggest valuable asset that he brings to this defensive minded team. He is a matchup nightmare as a lengthy post that moves like a guard. Now his drives to the basket are under control, and his three pointers are dropping at a high clip, Grant is a legitimate scoring option. His 13.1 points per game are a huge lift for the Thunder who have struggled to find consistency from role players in years past.

This team is, for the first team in a long time, enjoyable to watch. Paul George is enjoying his most efficient year of his career and it is a genuine surprise when anything he throws at the basket doesn’t go in. Westbrook has morphed into the player that his critics have always called for him to be, once again averaging a triple double, and deferring to Paul George quite often. As a team, the Thunder have the highest three point percentage since January and a big reason why is the amount of wide open looks they get every game. Fast paced style, handsy defense, and a roller coaster offensive transition attack make this Thunder the most fun Thunder team to watch, maybe ever. Every player on the roster recognizes the potential of the team and knows their role within the system. With consistent role players, two superstars, and a motor that never quits, this team is enjoyable to watch, but more importantly they are contending for a championship.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunder Digits: Big Three dominate

The Oklahoma City Thunder opened up the 2017-2018 season with an emphatic 105-84 win over the New York Knicks. Here are some numbers that definitely stood out:

71

71 is the number of points scored by Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. It’s safe to say all three of these guys can really score the basketball. George had it going from deep as well, as he knocked down six threes.

16

The number of assists Russell Westbrook had. You can tell that Russell has taken on a new game this season as he got others open all night long. He was constantly looking to make a play for someone else. Russell has grown up and improved so much in just a couple of short years and it is really showing now.

9

Oklahoma City has now won nine straight home openers. Their last loss? The opening night of this franchise.

14

Oklahoma City ended the night with 14 takeaways. The Thunder was able to get a deflection on almost every pass and it led to many fast break points. Steven Adams had five steals and was a defensive menace all night long. The 14 steals doesn’t give the Thunder defense enough credit as they forced 25 total turnovers on the night.

18

The Thunder had 18 turnovers of their own tonight as they couldn’t seem to find a ton of rhythm early, as expected. As the game went on, the Thunder really started to mesh and showed how scary the Thunder can be. Oklahoma City needs to cut down on turnovers if they want to live up to the hype they have created this season.

38

The number of three pointers the Thunder took tonight. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but the Thunder really struggled to knock them down early. Everything started falling late though, as they finished with 11 makes from downtown. Oklahoma City has a plethora of three point shooters this year so expect a high volume of threes most games.

300

Oklahoma City now has 300 sellouts at Chesapeake Energy Arena. That is for regular season and playoff games, combined. While the Thunder have the second longest streak in the NBA, for perspective the Dallas Mavericks have sold out every game since 2001, at 705 consecutive games.

21

The margin of victory for Oklahoma City tonight. Although it wasn’t the cleanest game, it was nonetheless very impressive. The Thunder didn’t play their best game tonight and still won by 21. Oklahoma City will have a bit of a tougher matchup as they travel to Utah Saturday. By the looks of tonight, this season is gonna be a fun one.

 

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Draft Prospectus: Terrance Ferguson

With only a few days to go until the NBA Draft, we’re going to break down a few mock draft selections for the Thunder. We’ve already done six, Semi Ojeleye, Luke Kinnard, Jawun Evans, Harry Giles, Justin Jackson, OG AnunobyDerrick White, and TJ Leaf.We’re going to break down a couple more. Stay with us as the NBA season ends and the NBA offseason ramps up.

Who: Terrance Ferguson
Position: Shooting Guard/Shooting Forward
Age: 19
Where: Adelaide (AUS)
Ht: 6-7
Wt: 186 lbs.

Terrance Ferguson is one of the most intriguing and interesting prospects in the draft Thursday. Ferguson was rated a five-star and was one of the most highly touted recruits coming out of Texas. He was originally set to play with Arizona, but ended up in the Australian Basketball League overseas. He has good height for a shooting guard at 6-7, but lacks in frame at only 186 pounds. Ferguson is an athletic freak and at least worth taking a flier on for Oklahoma City.

STREGNTHS

Ferguson was a great shooter in high school and continued to impress in the Nike Hoops Summit, hitting seven three pointers in a row for Team USA. His numbers dipped in limited action in Australia to 32 percent but that shouldn’t be too much of a concern as his numbers rose when inserted into the starting lineup. He has a strong dribble pull-up and is great in transition. Ferguson is a great defender and has unlimited potential on that side of the ball. He could develop into a nice “3-and-D” player in the NBA. He is extremely athletic and has nice bounce. He isn’t worried about his shot attempt numbers and looks to make the extra pass. Watching over his highlights, his release really reminds me of Ray Allen, very quick and smooth. He has a lot of confidence and is only 19 years old which means unlimited potential. He gets nice elevation on his jumper that would allow him to shoot over the top of defenders.

WEAKNESSES

Ferguson is not a great ball handler. He is a little out of control and doesn’t go anywhere with his dribble. He has a ton of athleticism but sometimes looks lost on the court like he doesn’t know how to use it. Ferguson has a super smooth jumper but it is also very streaky. He doesn’t really have another dimension to his game besides spot-up shooting and crazy athleticism/defense. He struggles to create his own shot sometimes and isn’t a huge play maker. He is only 186 pounds which generates concern, as he’s not as bulky as most NBA shooting guards. Right now, he is limited to mostly catch-and-shoot jumpers, but he definitely has room and time for improvement.

WHY OKC NEEDS HIM

Ferguson is probably the biggest question mark in the entire draft. But, his athleticism and shooting alone should draw the attention of the Thunder. Especially if Oklahoma City can’t pay Andre Roberson, they are gonna need someone to step in and be a good defender. It doesn’t need to happen right away, but Ferguson could be that guy. Ever since the Thunder moved to Oklahoma City they have been lacking a true 3-and-D guy which is extremely valued in the NBA. Terrance Ferguson may never be an all-star but he has the potential to be a really solid NBA player and could be a perfect fit with the Thunder.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Westbrook says Avada Kedavra to the Magic in OT

Mar 29, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots a three pointer to tie the game during the fourth quarter to force overtime against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Oklahoma City Thunder defeats the Orlando Magic 114-106 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It was just another night at the office for your MVP, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook led the Thunder in another night of fourth quarter heroics, this time past the Magic, 114-106 in overtime.

The Thunder started out slow once again. The offense was extremely stagnant in the first half. Nobody could get anything going, and then Russell Westbrook happened. Facing a 13-point deficit with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Westbrook completely took over the game.

He finished with 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. This was his 38th triple double of the year. He did turn the ball over seven times, but he had no turnovers in the second half, and took care of the ball when it really mattered. 57 points is the most points scored in NBA history when triple-doubling, 37 of them came in the second half. No big deal.

The Thunder still trailed late when Nikola Vucevic missed a key free-throw with only seconds left to play. Russell Westbrook rebounded the ball, dribbled the length of the floor, and nailed a contested three over two Magic defenders.

The Thunder had three players in double figures tonight. Enes Kanter added in 17 from off the bench and Victor Oladipo had 13. It was a tough shooting night for everyone on the Thunder besides Russell Westbrook. As a team, Oklahoma City only shot 42 percent from the field, and an even worse 30 percent from the three-point line.

Luckily for the Thunder, the Magic had an even worse shooting night from the field. They ended up shooting 40 percent. They did however have six players in double figures. Leading the charge for Orlando was Evan Fournier who racked up 24 points on the night. Vucevic added 11 points and 16 rebounds.

This was the Thunder’s largest comeback in franchise history, as they fell behind by as many as 21 points.

Russell Westbrook showed again tonight why he deserves the MVP. Fans do not deserve his greatness. His ability to take over a game late in the fourth quarter is just unmatched, as he has showed in both outings this week. Russell Westbrook now has triple-doubles in eight of his last ten games, and has earned MVP chants twice in the month of March in the visiting team’s arena.

Next up for the Thunder they will be at home against the San Antonio Spurs this Friday at 7:00 p.m. Oklahoma City will look to continue their hot streak as they have now won eight of their last 10.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Shoot the three: C-

The Thunder did not shoot the ball well from distance tonight. But, they ended up hitting shots when it mattered. Westbrook made three in the fourth, and Abrines added two of his own in the quarter as well.

Make free-throws: C-

Oklahoma City was off all around tonight shooting wise. They shot 64 percent from the free-throw line. They are lucky that it didn’t hurt them because the Magic ended up at only 70 percent. Westbrook did finish the game 9-of-11 from the line.

Take care of the ball: B

The Thunder won the turnover battle tonight. And if it wasn’t for Russell’s seven first half turnovers, they would’ve ended with only four for the game. As it got closer to crunch time though, the thunder really took care of the ball. Russell did not record one turnover in the second half.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Westbrook, Thunder stun Mavs in comeback

Mar 27, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates the win over the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Thunder defeat the Mavericks 92-91. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A cross over and a jumper that is the old fashion cotton shot sent the Thunder into the win column for the seventh time in their last 10 games as the Thunder beat Dallas 92-91 on Monday night.

Russell Westbrook completely carried the Thunder on his back tonight en route to his 37th triple-double. He finished the game with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Victor Oladipo added 15 points and Taj Gibson added 13 points and was a team high plus-27.

The Thunder ended the game on a 14-0 run after being down by 13 late. Russell Westbrook scored 12 of those 14 points, including the game-winner with 7.1 seconds left.

The leading scorer for the Thunder bench tonight was Enes Kanter, who had six points. It was a horrible showing for the Thunder bench, who finished with a grand total of 17 points. For the game, they were a combined -62.

The Mavericks had six players in double-figures. Nerlens Noel and Wesley Matthews scored 15. On the last possession of the game, Harrison Barnes missed a deep three. This will be Dallas’ first losing season since 1999-00.

The Thunder’s first half offense was atrocious. They had 35 points at halftime after scoring a season-low 10 points in the second quarter. Things picked up in the fourth quarter, as Oklahoma City exploded for 35 points.

Oklahoma City pushed its record to 42-31 with the win. It’s one game behind the Clippers for fifth and two games behind the Jazz for fourth.

In the last nine games of the season, Westbrook needs to average 5.8 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game to average a triple-double.

For most of the night, the Thunder looked extremely sluggish. They were not hitting shots and kept turning the ball over. They ended up with 17 turnovers on the night. In the second half, play started to pick up. Russ finished with 20-5-5 in the second half and had only one turnover.

Next up for the Thunder, they travel to face the Orlando Magic, Victor Oladipo’s former team. The Magic are suffering through a pretty dismal season after making some questionable trades. The Thunder will take on Orlando on at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

Take care of the ball: C

This grade would be a lot lower if the Thunder didn’t redeem themselves in the second half. Westbrook’s one turnover after halftime was impressive and shows he was playing smart and taking care of the ball. Oklahoma City probably wouldn’t of had to go on such a big run if it didn’t commit so many turnovers.

Bench scoring: F

Luckily, Russell Westbrook bailed out the bench tonight. The bench provided close to nothing with a combined 17 points. Even worse was its plus-minus rating, which ended at a -67. Thunder coach Billy Donovan couldn’t find anyone on the bench who was ready to play tonight.

Finish: A+

It is fair to say that most fans thought this game was over with a minute left. The Thunder came storming back to end the game on a 14-0 run with Westbrook leading the charge. What a crazy comeback for the Thunder, as they geo a much-needed victory to stay alive for the fourth and fifth seeds in the playoffs.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunder get embarrassed in Dallas

Mar 5, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry (30) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Alex Abrines (8) in the first quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder’s three game road trip came to a disappointing end Sunday night, as Oklahoma City lost to the Mavericks 104-89. The Thunder have now lost three very winnable games and have completely lost their shooting touch. Its safe to say most Thunder fans are glad this road trip is over, and are ready for the team to be back home.

After tonight, the Thunder drops to 35-28 on the season, still sitting at seventh in the Western Conference.

The Thunder shot 40 percent from the field, but that wasn’t even the worst stat line of the night. Oklahoma City shot nine percent from three point land. The lone two makes came from Russell Westbrook as the rest of the team was 0-of-10.

The offense tonight was pretty horrible, and that is being nice. There just wasn’t a whole lot of movement, as it was always either ISO or pick-n-roll. If pick-n-roll didn’t end up working, the Thunder would just settle for a contested jumper. Not only could the Thunder not score, but they couldn’t take care of the ball either, turning the ball over 15 times.

Defense has become a pretty big issue for the Thunder, as this was their third straight game giving up more than 100 points. Tonight, they only forced eight turnovers, and it felt like the Mavs could get anything they wanted on offense.

Russell Westbrook led the team in scoring with 29 points, following him was Steven Adams with 19, and Enes Kanter with 16. After that, no Thunder player had more than six points. The bench struggled mightily getting any offense to go besides Enes Kanter.

Leading the charge for Dallas was Seth Curry who continued his impressive play with 22 points on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting. The Mavs had five players contribute nine points or more. Dallas distributed the ball very well tonight, with 24 assists.

Russell Westbrook picked up his 14th technical foul on the season, and he also added a flagrant-one foul as well. If Russ receives two more technicals, he will receive a one game suspension.

You can tell that Oklahoma City is really missing Victor Oladipo’s presence who missed his sixth straight game with back spasms. There doesn’t seem to be another ball handler who is capable of scoring and taking control when Westbrook isn’t in the game.

Next up for the Thunder is Portland again, but this time at home. The Trail Blazers have won two out of three times against Oklahoma City this year, including a 114-109 win Thursday in Portland.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Play Smart Basketball: F

The Thunder played the absolute opposite of smart basketball tonight. They committed 15 turnovers and were just jacking up shots whenever and from wherever. When the first scoring option didn’t work out, the Thunder would take contested jumpers. Not a great game plan.

End Strong: D+

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to end strong tonight. The game was over before the fourth, as the Thunder was down 19 to start the quarter. The closest the ever got in the quarter was 15.

Capitalize on Mavericks mistakes: F

Oklahoma City couldn’t force the Mavericks to make mistakes, therefore they had nothing to capitalize on. The Thunder forced eight turnovers all night, and only four steals. The Mavericks also left shooters open and had some poor defensive possessions, but the Thunder couldn’t hit any wide open shots.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunder drop second straight at Phoenix

Mar 3, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On the second night of a back-to-back, Oklahoma City dropped it’s second game in a row, this time coming at Phoenix, 118-111. The Thunder fought back late but could never really get in the driver’s seat to put the game away.

The second quarter killed the Thunder as they were outscored by eight points, and ended up giving up 35 in the quarter.

The Thunder are 35-27 on the season, still seventh in the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City was plagued with another bad shooting night, except they just kept shooting. The Thunder attempted 35 three-point attempts, only converting on nine of them. Doug McDermott and Alex Abrines were a combined 3-of-12 on the night, and Jerami Grant added four misses from downtown as well.

Russell Westbrook had a crazy stat line tonight, racking up 48 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists. He shot 46.7 percent and only committed four turnovers making it an extremely efficient night for Russ.

Westbrook is also the first player since Kobe Bryant in 2012 to have four straight 40-point games.

The defense just wasn’t there for the Thunder tonight as they couldn’t get a stop late. They gave up 118 points and allowed the Suns to shoot nearly 50 percent. Phoenix also doubled Oklahoma City’s assist numbers, 28-14.

The Suns were getting their scoring from a number of players tonight, as six players scored more than 14 points. Eric Bledsoe led the team with 18, and crucial free throws at the end of the game.

Oklahoma City’s bench struggled mightily tonight as they ended up being outscored 55-22. Enes Kanter lead the bench with 11, as no other member from the Thunder bench scored more than six points.

One bright spot for Oklahoma City was Domantas Sabonis showing signs of life tonight, registering his first double-digit scoring game since Jan. 31. He added 11 points in 13 minutes for the Thunder

On a night where the Clippers and Grizzlies both lost, this was a must win for the Thunder. After watching Oklahoma City knock of the Jazz, there were some high hopes for this road trip, but it hasn’t started out as planned. The Thunder desperately need a win in Dallas on Sunday.

Next up, the Thunder will travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks on Sunday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. Dallas is coming off of an impressive victory over the Grizzlies.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

End Strong: C-

The Thunder would pull within four or five, but could never get past that is what it seemed like. Everytime you looked up, the deficit was back up to 10. Having finished so strong all season, it is strange to see the Thunder not finish well at all in the past two games. Oklahoma City especially didn’t finish the game well on the defensive side, as it seemed nobody wanted to guard tonight.

Thunder Money ball: F

As I mentioned earlier, the Thunder couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn tonight. They went an atrocious 9-of-35 from three point land, and none of their shooters could get going. The Thunder definitely showed their weakness, and played like a team who is one of the NBA’s worst thee point shooting teams.

Defend: D-

In losses this season, the Thunder have been giving up an average of 112 points per game. Tonight they gave up 119 to a struggling Suns team, which made it all the more difficult to watch. Oklahoma City couldn’t get a stop down the stretch, and it ultimately cost them the game.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Thunder top Pelicans in NOLA

Jan 25, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after teammate center Enes Kanter (not pictured) during against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder nabbed their second straight victory tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans, 114-105. The Pelicans were coming off a victory over the defending champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the Thunder had just knocked off a hot Utah Jazz team.

Russell Westbrook racked up his 23rd triple-double, notching 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Westbrook wasn’t exactly efficient from the field, only shooting 7-of-22, but he was constantly getting others involved in every aspect of the game.

Steven Adams ended the game with an impressive 20 points and 11 rebounds, as he recorded his second  straight game with four blocks. Also from the starters, Oladipo added 15 points and three triples, accounting for a team-best +18. Roberson had a nice game as he shot 4-of-4 from the field, scoring eight points. Domantas Sabonis also scored eight.

Bench play was huge for the Thunder in their victory tonight, as all five players scored. Enes Kanter had another impressive game off the bench, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Abrines scored an efficient 11 points, on 4-of-5 shooting and 2-of-2 from downtown. Cameron Payne pitched in five points.

New Orleans went on a run in the third and fourth quarter, and even cut the game to five points when it was 105-100. OKC really took over and won the game in transition.

OKC took advantage of Anthony Davis missing the second half and got after it on the boards, grabbing 55 total on the game. It seemed like the Thunder were getting points exclusively from the paint late in the third quarter, just pounding the Pelicans who had no interior defense to answer.

The Pelicans leading scorer was E’Twaun Moore of the bench who scored 18 points, followed by Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans with 14 each. Terrence Jones also added 12.

The Thunder’s interior defense really stood out as the Pelicans couldn’t get a lot going inside. They shot only 42 percent as the Thunder blocked 11 shots.

Next up for OKC is Thursday at home against the Dallas Mavericks. This ends a six-game road stretch, as the Thunder return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena at 7 p.m.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Control the paint: A+

The Thunder dominated inside tonight. Even when Davis was playing in the first half, they held him to 8 points. OKC out-rebounded the Pelicans 55-47. Both big men for the Thunder had huge games. The Thunder demolished their season average in points in the paint, scoring 66 tonight.  “We just kind of went inside,” Adams said.  “Seeing that it was a bit of a weakness for them, and we managed to get some easy ones and play inside out.”

Fast break points: B

Oklahoma City finished with 20 fast break points. A lot of the fast break points came off steals and none were bigger than Oladipo’s steal and score late in the fourth quarter. The Thunder didn’t get out and run an abnormal amount tonight, but that’s because they found scoring in other ways.

Defend the three: B+

The Pelicans made 11 threes tonight but they also attempted 27. The Thunder didn’t allow any Pelicans to make more than two 3-pointers. The defense was flying around and making plays, especially in the first half.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!