Tag - Andre Roberson

Thunder Game Day No. 45: vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Oklahoma City Thunder (24-20, (15-7 home) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (15-28, 6-14 away)

Wednesday, Jan. 17 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
Coverage: ESPN (DirectTV 206, Cox 29, HD 1300, Tulsa Cox HD 1025)
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 9½-point underdog. The over/under is 216½.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Lakers: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • You can beat Kings and the Hornets and that should be enough to take on the Los Angeles Lakers. Oklahoma City and LA for a chilly showdown at the Peake.
  • Oklahoma City has rebounded from losing three-in-a-row with nice, decent wins over Charlotte and Sacramento.
  • The Lakers will be without Lonzo Ball in the lineup tonight. The Lakers are 0-7 without the No. 2 draft pick in the lineup. They’re still sub-.500 with him in the lineup.
  • Oklahoma City beat the Lakers in their first meeting 133-99.
  • The Thunder have won 10 straight home games against the Lakers, dating back to 2011.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • Tonight’s ESPN, for those not in the Thunder market or just don’t like listening to Brian Davis.

SCOUTING THE LAKERS

  • The Los Angeles Lakers are 15-28 on the season, 12th in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, LA is 4-6. They are 4-1 in their last five games.
  • In their all-time series, the Lakers lead the series 140-103 over Oklahoma City.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder are 20-12 against the Lakers.
  • When games are played at the Peake, the Thunder are 11-4 against the Lakers.
  • Oklahoma City has won 10 in a row against the Lakers at home.
  • The Lakers fell to the Grizzlies on Jan. 15 by a score of 123-114.
  • In the last meeting between OKC and LA, the Thunder won 133-99.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Lonzo Ball (knee) is out.
    Brandon Ingram (ankle) is a game-time decision.
    Larry Nance Jr. (hip) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Los Angeles came on Dec. 19, 2015, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 118-78 (40-point margin of victory). Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (18 points) vs. the Lakers occurred during an 107-89 loss on March 24, 2009.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is questionable (left patellar tendonitis) for tonight’s game.

Lakers name

  • How many natural lakes are there in Los Angeles? The short answer: Less than 10,000.
  • When a pair of investors relocated the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League to Minneapolis before the 1947 season, they sought a name that would ring true with the team’s new home.
  • Given that Minnesota is “The Land of 10,000 Lakes,” they settled on Lakers.
  • When the Lakers moved to Los Angeles before the 1960 season, their nickname was retained, in part because of the tradition the team had established in Minnesota.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City will  travel to Cleveland on Saturday afternoon.
  • Then, Oklahoma City comes home for two more games, with the Nets and Wizards.



Three Keys to the Game

Third quarter

Win the third quarter. When the Thunder win the third quarter, they’re 13-1. When they lose, they’re 11-19 on the year. So, win the third quarter and you win the game. It’s pretty simple as that. Especially as the quarter has been the thorn in the side of Oklahoma City all season long.

Lawler’s Law

The Lakers aren’t a very defensive team, they’re giving up 110.5 points per game, second worst in the NBA. For that reason, when the Lakers score under 100 points, they’re 2-12. That’s key for the Thunder. Gotta hit 100 and keep the Lakers from doing that.

Rebound

The Oklahoma City Thunder have rebounded well lately but they’ll have to do it again tonight. Oklahoma City is 18-6 when they can grab more boards than their opponent.

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Thunder Game Day No. 44: vs. Sacramento Kings

Oklahoma City Thunder (23-20, (14-7 home) vs. Sacramento Kings (13-29, 6-16 away)

Monday, Jan. 15 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 11½-point underdog. The over/under is 209.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Kings: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • As the Thunder found the winning way once again, they’ll welcome the Sacramento Kings into Bricktown as they’re carrying the worst record in the NBA.
  • Oklahoma City beat Charlotte 101-91 on Saturday afternoon to end a three-game losing streak.
  • The Thunder were waxed by the Kings back in November 94-86.
  • Sacramento has lost four in a row and haven’t won a road game since Dec. 20 in Brooklyn.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE KINGS

  • The Sacramento Kings are 13-29 on the season, worst in the Western Conference.
  • The Kings in their last 10 games are 2-8, they’ve lost four in a row.
  • The Kings have not made the playoffs since 2006, second longest streak behind Minnesota.
  • In their last game, Sacramento were blown out by the L.A. Clippers 126-105 on Saturday.
  • In their series last season, Oklahoma City went 2-1 vs. the Kings.
  • Overall, Oklahoma City is 142-86 against Sacramento.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder are 26-8 vs. the Kings.
  • Oklahoma City is 15-1 all-time at home vs. Sacramento, the lone loss came last season.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Harry Giles (knee) is out.
    Frank Mason III (heel) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Sacramento came on Feb. 15, 2011, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 126-96 (30-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. the Kings occurred during an 83-104 loss on Jan. 7, 2015.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City will host the Lakers on Wednesday night and then travel to Cleveland on Saturday afternoon.
  • Then, Oklahoma City comes home for two more games, with the Nets and Wizards.



Three Keys to the Game

Defend the three

The Kings are second lowest in the NBA in threes taken per game at just under 23 attempts per game. They’re efficient. A top five shooting team and that’s where Oklahoma City has to excel tonight. In their first meeting the Kings shot 38 percent, hitting nine three-pointers. Cannot allow that again.

Bench

Oklahoma City’s bench ranks 29th in the NBA in points contributed per game. They’re averaging 23.9 points per game. If Paul George is not able to go, the Thunder will have to find a way to get someone on the bench to step up like Raymond Felton did in the fourth quarter against the Hornets.

Big Three

When you play top echelon teams like the Timberwolves, yeah that’s still weird typing that, you have to show up and show out. For Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, all three will have to be on their A games tonight. If they’re not, the Thunder will be answering questions once again about how Westbrook left the arena without talking to media again.

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Thunder Game Day No. 43: at Charlotte Hornets

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-20, 8-13 away) vs. Charlotte Hornets (16-24, 11-11 home)

Saturday, Jan. 13 :: 4:00 p.m. CST :: Sepctrum Center (20,200)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 1½-point underdog. The over/under is 210.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Hornets: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The temperature may be low in Oklahoma City today but the demeanor and the will of the Thunder is equally as low as they roll into the Queens City to take on the Charlotte Hornets.
  • It’s been déjà vu as the Thunder have been struggling immensely since the loss of Andre Roberson to injury. the All-Defensive player will miss today’s game, too.
  • Charlotte waxed the Thunder a little over a month ago 116-103 at the Peake. A barrage of threes in the third quarter put the Thunder out of their misery.
  • Oklahoma City has lost three in a row for the third time this season. They’re looking to avoid their second four-game losing streak.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE HORNETS

  • The Charlotte Hornets are 16-24 on the season, 11th in the Eastern Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Hornets are 5-5.
  • In their last game, the Hornets beat the Utah Jazz 99-88 in Utah in the first game of their back-to-back.
  • All-time, Oklahoma City is 36-18 against Charlotte.
  • When you break it down between Hornets and Bobcats, the Thunder are 4-3 against the Hornets and 9-2 against the Bobcats.
  • Last season, the Charlotte Hornets swept the Thunder, winning both games by double digits.
  • Charlotte won the first meeting against Oklahoma City 116-103 on Dec. 11.
  • Oklahoma City is 11-3 in their last 13 games against the Hornets.
  • INJURY REPORT:
    Cody Zeller (knee) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Charlotte came on Nov. 26, 2012, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 114-69 (45-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (13 points) vs. Charlotte occurred during a 116-103 loss on Dec. 11, 2017.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • The Thunder return home for four games in five games.



Three Keys to the Game

Jeremy Lamb

This might be Paul George or Andre Roberson’s call. The Hornets are 4-15 when Jeremy Lamb scores 15 points or less. Lamb has only done it once over the last seven games. That explains how Charlotte is 3-1 in the last four games as Lamb has done this.

Bench

Oklahoma City’s bench ranks 29th in the NBA in points contributed per game. They’re averaging 23.9 points per game. If Paul George is not able to go, the Thunder will have to find a way to get someone on the bench to step up. They didn’t really step up on Thursday. We’ll see

Big Three

When you play top echelon teams like the Timberwolves, yeah that’s still weird typing that, you have to show up and show out. For Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, all three will have to be on their A games tonight. If they’re not, the Thunder will be answering questions once again about how Westbrook left the arena without talking to media again.

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Thunder crumble in 2nd 104-88 to Minnesota

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thunder Game Day No. 42: at Minnesota Timberwolves

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-19, 8-12 away) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (26-16, 15-6 home)

Wednesday, Jan. 10 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Target center (19,356)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
Coverage: ESPN (DirectTV 206, Cox 29, HD 1300, Tulsa Cox HD 1025)
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 4-point underdog. The over/under is 204½.
Online Stream: Watch ESPN | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | T-Wolves: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder head to the great north to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on ESPN for a Northwestern Divisional showdown.
  • The T-Wolves own a 2-1 seasonal head-to-head series advantage.
  • Currently, the Timberwolves are fourth in the Western Conference playoff race. Oklahoma City is sixth.
  • Oklahoma City is coming off a 117-106 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers last night.
  • Minnesota is 7-3 in the last 10 games, including back-to-back double digit wins over New Orleans and Cleveland.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • If you’re not in the Oklahoma City market, tonight’s game is on ESPN. Mark Jones, Hubie Brown and Doris Burke will be on the call.

SCOUTING THE TIMBERWOLVES

  • The Minnesota Timberwolves are 26-16 on the season, fourth in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the T-Wolves are 7-3, including winners of back-to-back games.
  • All-time, the Oklahoma City Thunder lead the series against the Minnesota Timberwolves 81-32.
  • Oklahoma City is 29-9 against Minnesota since relocation.
  • When playing at the Target Center, the Thunder are 13-6 at Minnesota.
  • The T-Wolves own a 2-1 advantage in the head-to-head this season against Oklahoma City.
  • It’s the first time since 2012-13 season, the Thunder have lose two games against Minnesota.
  • In their last game, Minnesota beat Cleveland 127-99 on Monday, Jan. 8.
  • Injury Report:
    Jeff Teague (knee) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Minnesota came on April 15, 2015, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 138-113 (25-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (42 points) vs. Minnesota occurred during an 129-87 loss on Jan. 7, 2009.

WHAT’S IN THE T-WOLVES NAME?

  • The ownership group for Minnesota’s prospective franchise chose Timberwolves through a name-the-team contest in 1986.
  • The nickname beat out Polars by a 2-1 margin in the final vote, which was conducted in 333 of the state’s 842 city councils.
  • Tim Pope, who was one of the first fans to nominate Timberwolves, won a trip to the NBA All-Star Game. Pope submitted 10 nicknames in all, including Gun Flints. “I thought a two-word name would win,” he told a reporter.
  • The most popular entry in the contest was Blizzard, but the team wanted a nickname that was more unique to its home state. “Minnesota is the only state in the lower 48 with free-roaming packs of timber wolves,” a team official said.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City finishes their road trip with a Saturday matinee against the Charlotte Hornets.
  • Then, the Thunder return home for four games in five games.



Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

It’s not a coincidence those who won the rebounding battle won the game. Oklahoma City dominated the rebounding battle, by 16 boards, in their win. Minnesota won by an average of eight boards per game in their two wins. Win the rebounding. Win the game?

Force turnovers

With Andre Roberson out, the Thunder have struggled to force turnovers. It’s imperative Oklahoma City’s defense comes ready to play tonight. Minnesota is first in the NBA in opponent steals, meaning they’re allowing the lowest in the NBA. The Thunder have to buck that trend.

Big Three

When you play top echelon teams like the Timberwolves, yeah that’s still weird typing that, you have to show up and show out. For Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, all three will have to be on their A games tonight. If they’re not, the Thunder will be answering questions once again about how Westbrook left the arena without talking to media again.

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Five Thoughts 1-9-18 (Blazers 117, Thunder 106)

Five Thoughts 1-9-18 (Blazers 117, Thunder 106)

1. If you read the site, you know I do my best to stay away from hyperbole and overreaction in the moment. So I don’t feel the least bit of trepidation saying that this was the worst loss of the season. Unfortunately, there are a lot to choose from, but this one ranks at the top for me because it comes after a period when it appeared this kind of play was behind us. I didn’t like the listless effort in Phoenix on Sunday, but considering they won the other two games on the trip I could brush that off as the guys perhaps having a little too much leisure time and playing flat at the end of week long trip. Call it a lousy night and move on. But you can only brush aside a lousy effort if you following it up with a good one. If you toss out an even MORE lousy performance two days later (at home, against a team missing their best player) well, then you might just be, lousy.

2. Defense was atrocious. Obviously they miss Andre Roberson badly in this department as there is a very clear drop off when he is out. He came out of the Milwaukee game very late and wasn’t on the court for the final possession when Giannis Antetokounmpo beat Josh Huestis baseline (albeit while stepping out of bounds). So our defense literally started to cave the instant he got hurt. And it has been garbage ever since. Tonight was just awful because Portland got whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted. Inside, outside, downtown, uptown, left, right, from Guthrie to Norman. Whatever. It’s fine if your defense takes a hit when you subtract your best defender. It’s expected actually. But the Thunder should have enough in the tank to not just get run over by the Suns and Blazers. Really pathetic. Roberson can’t get back fast enough. I hope everyone that trashes him has been enjoying the turnstile routine the last few games.

3. As always with Russ his weakness is the same as his greatness. And it’s often hard to figure out where one stops and the other starts. It was a Tuesday night the second week in January, game No. 40. To start the evening I thought nine of the 10 players on the court were fairy content to demonstrate that it was a Tuesday night the second week in January, game No. 40. Not necessarily a poor effort from anyone. But 90 percent of the guys out there seemed content to let the game slowly play out, figure out the pace, etc. But that 10%. Man, he just doesn’t do “pace.” Russ was a Tasmanian Devil from the opening tip. He was absolutely frantic. The reason Russ is Russ is because that’s what he does. No off nights. No going through motions. But tonight it manifested itself in some very sloppy play early. He’s going 110 MPH while his teammates are doing 75. That will cause some traffic issues. Moreover, it starts to force all 9 other guys to pick it up. It sort of lights a fire under the opponent as well. About midway tough the first quarter tonight, the intensity picked up. Both teams were responding to Russ. Sometimes going through the motions might be better. I’ll never rip Russ too much for this because you can’t pick and choose when to love it and when to hate it. But it would be beneficial if RUSS learned to pick and choose a bit more.

4. Bench is all kinds of messed up right now. It’s just terrible. Felton is the only guy playing at an acceptable NBA level. Grant has slowly dipped and is now looking like a borderline rotational guy. Just not a ton of options remaining unless Donovan wants to give Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, and Dakari Johnson longer looks— and I don’t think anyone views any of those guys as a long term solution to anything. It will help when Andre returns, but I’ll continue to bang that trade drum. Presti needs to be looking.

5. First half of the season is officially over. It wasn’t good. The second quarter was better than the first, so improvement is nice. But the second quarter ended with a thud, losing four out of six including three in a row at home. I’d grade the Thunder a C-minus for the first half of this year. The second quarter I would give them a B-minus so that tells you all you need to know about the first quarter. Their inability to beat middling to poor teams was exasperating. They would be right there with the Spurs, if not the Rockets, had they just taken care of half of those losses against bad teams. The upside to the first half would be that they flashed the potential to be great. They played far better against the better teams and their defense in particular against good competition was excellent. The offense looks more fluid than it did early as well. Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony all seem to be far more settled now than they were at the start of December. I wanted 9-5 in January. 2-2 thus far, so still attainable. Speaking more specifically about the second half, I am not overly worried about the win total. I’d like for them to get to 50 wins. That would require a 28-13 record from here on out, or a six-game improvement in the second half over the first half. Seems like a long shot, but if they keep up their December pace that’s right about where they will wind up. Really hoping these last two miserable outings are random outliers and not a sign of things to come. Pretty massive game in Minnesota tomorrow. It’s a good way to get the second half started. Or, at least, it can be.

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.
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Andre Roberson’s absence more to blame than coaching

It’s easy to blame the head coach. He’s the one who draws up the plays, sets the line up and configures the game plan to stop an opposing team. Often, he’s the scapegoat of many excuses. However, as the Thunder struggle over the last six games.

Like most losing streaks, there is a correlation to what’s happening. This one is defense. Over the last six games, the Oklahoma City Thunder are allowing 109.5 points per game. That’s including allowing at least 114 points in four of their last five.

This isn’t Billy Donovan’s fault. There’s only so much he can do to get players to close out on shooters. It’s been proven when this team is healthy, they’re very good. They’re down right one of the top three teams in the NBA when they’re all together. That’s the correlation.

Over the last five games, there has been one real common denominator: No Andre Roberson.

You can complain about his offense all you want. You can cry about his free throw shooting in your adult beverage or chocolate milk (maybe both if you’re cool) but there is no arguing how good of a defender Roberson has become.

His ability to defend the team’s best perimeter shooter goes unmatched. Sure, Paul George is a quality defender and considered one of the best three-and-D players in the league but when it comes to pure lock down ability, not many rival Roberson.

Of every player in the NBA that has played in at least 20 games and plays at least 20 minutes per game, which is a 209 players (46.4 percent of the entire NBA), Andre Roberson is the No. 1 defender in the NBA with a defensive rating of 96.5. That means, Roberson is allowing only 96.5 points per 100 possessions he’s on the floor.

You flip that around, the Thunder without Roberson have been down right atrocious. While they’re 3-4 without him in the lineup, Oklahoma City is allowing 108.9 points per 100, worst on the team. That equates to 110.1 points per game. That’s a huge change from the 99.3 points per game with him in the lineup.

The defense becomes vanilla and in the NBA, you need to be Neapolitan. You have to be able to throw different shades of defensive changes. The switching and the deflections, which are significantly down without Roberson in the line up, are missing.

You can question paying players over others but at $10 million per season, Roberson has become a steal. For the Thunder, Roberson is the missing piece in an ecosystem that’s ever so fragile. Even one piece out of alignment and it all comes crashing down.

The Thunder need Roberson back sooner than later. The longer he sits out, the more questions about the holes in the defense Oklahoma City will have to answer.

It’s not Donovan’s fault Roberson is hurt. There’s questionable decision making that happens throughout all NBA games.

One thing up for question isn’t where Oklahoma City is 19 wins with him and only three without.

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Thunder Game Day No. 41: vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-18, 14-6 home) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (21-18, 11-8 away)

Tuesday, Jan. 9 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
Coverage: NBATV  (DirecTV 216, Cox 37/756, AT&T U-Verse 754/632, Dish 416/156 (9508 HD)
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 8-point favorite. The over/under is 204½.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Blazers: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • A disappointing loss to Phoenix sends the Oklahoma City Thunder home looking to right the ship against the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers for a short interruption of a road trip.
  • Oklahoma City is 3-6 in their last nine games against Portland. However, the Thunder are 4-1 when they’ve played Portland at home in their last five games.
  • The Thunder only sit a half-game ahead of Portland for fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race, winner will control fourth place.
  • The Trail Blazers, without Lillard, has won back-to-back games. That includes a win over the always tough San Antonio Spurs.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).
  • If you’re not in the Oklahoma City market, tonight’s game is on NBA TV.

SCOUTING THE BLAZERS

  • The Portland Trail Blazers are 21-18 on the season, sixth in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Blazers are 5-5.
  • That said, Portland has won back-to-back games, including beating the San Antonio Spurs.
  • The Trail Blazers have spent a lot of time beating up on the bad teams, they’re only 9-15 against teams with winning records.
  • In their last meeting, Portland beat the Thunder 103-99 in Portland on Nov. 5.
  • Overall, the Thunder lead the head-to-head series with Portland 116-113.
  • Since moving from Seattle, Oklahoma City is 18-19 against Porltand, one of the few Western Conference teams with a winning record over the Thunder.
  • When games are played at the Peake, Oklahoma City is 11-7.
  • Injury Report:
    Damian Lillard (right calf strain) is OUT.
    C.J. Wilcox (knee) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Portland came on March 24, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 103-83 (20-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (35 points) vs. Portland occurred during a 107-72 loss on April 3, 2009.

WHAT’S IN THE SUNS NAME?

  • General manager Jerry Colangelo, only 28 at the time, settled on a name for his expansion franchise using a name-the-team contest in 1968.
  • Colangelo chose Suns over Scorpions, Rattlers, and Thunderbirds, among the other suggestions included in the 28,000 entries.
  • One lucky fan won $1,000 and season tickets as part of the contest, which included such obscure entries as White Wing Doves, Sun Lovers, Poobahs, Dudes, and Cactus Giants.

PDX -> OKC CONNECT

  • Assistant coach Maurice Cheeks was 162-139 in four seasons as Portland’s head coach from 2001-2005.
  • Kyle Singler was born in Medford, Oregon and attended South Medford High School.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City hits the road for a couple of games. They’ll finish a back-to-back tomorrow at Minnesota. Then, at Charlotte on Saturday to finish up the road trip.



Three Keys to the Game

Third quarter

Win the third quarter. When the Thunder win the third quarter, they’re 12-1. When they lose, they’re 10-17 on the year. So, win the third quarter and you win the game. It’s pretty simple as that. Especially as the quarter has been the thorn in the side of Oklahoma City all season long.

Defense

Holding a team to under 100 points is hard in today’s NBA. That’s why it’s really no surprise the Trail Blazers are only 5-10 in games where they score less than 100 points. Portland is 1-3 in their last four where they scored less than 100 points. On the other side of that, Oklahoma City is 14-5 when holding an opponent under 100 points. They’re 6-1 when holding opponents under 100 in their last seven games.

Rebound

The Oklahoma City Thunder have rebounded well lately but they’ll have to do it again tonight. Oklahoma City is 16-6 when they can grab more boards than their opponent.

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Suns scorch Thunder 114-100

No Andre Roberson and another poor performance at the free throw line saw the Oklahoma City Thunder fall to the Phoenix Suns 114-110 on Sunday evening.

The Thunder are now 22-18 on the season, only a half-game from falling back in the standings.

The Suns now have won three straight against the Thunder. It’s their largest winning streak against Oklahoma City since 2008-09 when the Suns were in the midst of a nine-game win streak against Oklahoma City/Seattle.

Oklahoma City went only 12-of-21 from the free throw line. At one point, the Thunder had missed eight but figured away to make seven of their final eight attempts.

Poor defense and lackluster offense saw Oklahoma City’s early lead turn into a deficit. Oklahoma City went 0-of-7 over the final five minute so of the first quarter, causing a six-point lead to be turned into a five-point deficit.

As the Thunder closed to within one in the second quarter, it was the poorous rebounding and defense that allowed the Suns to jump out on a 13-4 run to lead 62-53 at the break.

The Suns took a 74-60 with 7:56 remaining in the third off a Devin Booker three-pointer. The Suns seemed a step quicker than the Thunder. Their ability to get easy shots were coming easy.

That’s when Westbrook tried took over.

Westbrook was the key in a Thunder’s 15-2 run, pulling Oklahoma City within a stick man. The reigning MVP scored or assisted on 10 of the 15 Thunder points.

Phoenix were able to use Thunder mistakes to increase their lead back to double digits. Booker hit three free throws, pushing the elad back to 87-77 with just over2 minutes left in the third quarter.

Terrance Ferguson, starting in place of the injured Andre Roberson, never found his rhythm fouling out in the fourth quarter after fouling a three-pointer shooter.

Dragan Bender nailed a couple of wide open three-pointers and Josh Jackson found a slam dunk uncontested as the fourth quarter was underway as the Suns pushed their lead out to as many as 18 points in the quarter.

Phoenix’s 17 made three-pointers were the most made by Phoenix since they made 22 against the Lakers in 2010.

Westbrook grabbed his 93rd career triple-double and 14th of the season but it wasn’t enough for the boy in blue. Westbrook finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Oklahoma City will now return home for a single game on the front side of a back-to-back against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Then, the Thunder look towards their final showdown against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

Keys to the Game

Third quarter: C

Oklahoma City really needed to win the third after struggling throughout the first half. While they did win the quarter, it was really what the Suns did and that was really stay level with Oklahoma City. The Thunder let the Suns open up a 14-point lead but closed to within one but couldn’t get any closer.

Three-point shooting: F

The Suns are now 10-6 when they hit more three-pointers than their opponent. I might be curious as to what their record is when they double their opponents three-pointers? It’s pretty good I suspect. Oklahoma City struggled all game long, while the Suns dominated from beyond the arc, nailing tons of open threes.

Rebounding: F

Phoenix only out rebounded the Thunder by one but it was the offensive boards that killed Oklahoma City tonight. The Suns scored 23 points on 12 offensive rebounds, which 20 of those came in the first half. The Thunder gave up too many second chance points on the road.

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Thunder Game Day No. 40: at Phoenix Suns

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-17, 8-11 away) vs. Phoenix Suns (15-26, 7-14 home)

Sunday, Jan. 6 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Talking Stick Resort Arena (18,422)
Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 8½-point favorite. The over/under is 219½.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Suns: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder take their West Coast momentum to the desert to take on the Phoenix Suns.
  • Oklahoma City is 8-2 in their last 10 games and have won three straight road games.
  • The Fighting Bookers are giving up a league worst 112.4 points per game but are only 5-5 in their last 10 games.
  • The Thunder and the Suns split their series last year, both winning on their home courts. Oklahoma City hasn’t won in Phoenix since Feb. 8, 2016.
  • Russell Westbrook in four games last year against the Suns averaged 37.0 points, 13.3 rebounds and 12.3 assists per game, including two triple-doubles.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • You can catch the radio on Oklahoma City’s WWLS, 98.1 FM. Matt Pinto will be your play-by-play voice. If you’re in Tulsa, catch it on 1450 AM.
  • Brian Davis and Michael Cage call the game on the Thunder’s flagship station, Fox Sports Oklahoma. You can watch the game there, catch it on NBA League Pass, or use the Fox Sports App (If you’re in Oklahoma).

SCOUTING THE SUNS

  • The Phoenix Suns are 15-26 on the season, 11th in the Western Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Suns are 5-5.
  • Right now, the Suns have lost two in a row and three of their last four games.
  • Oklahoma City and Phoenix split the season series last year 2-2, both teams winning all games on their home floors.
  • Overall, the Thunder are 106-126 against the Phoenix Suns.
  • When speaking of only in Oklahoma City terms, the Thunder are 21-11.
  • When the games are played in Phoenix, the Thunder are only 8-7 against the Suns.
  • Injury Report:
    Alan Williams (knee) is out.
    Brandon Knight (knee) is a game-time decision.
    T.J. Warren (illness) is a game-time decision.
    Isaiah Canaan (groin) is a game-time decision.
    Jared Dudley (illness) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Phoenix came on Feb. 8, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 127-96 (31-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (22 points) vs. Phoenix occurred during a 118-140 loss on Feb. 20, 2009.

WHAT’S IN THE SUNS NAME?

  • General manager Jerry Colangelo, only 28 at the time, settled on a name for his expansion franchise using a name-the-team contest in 1968.
  • Colangelo chose Suns over Scorpions, Rattlers, and Thunderbirds, among the other suggestions included in the 28,000 entries.
  • One lucky fan won $1,000 and season tickets as part of the contest, which included such obscure entries as White Wing Doves, Sun Lovers, Poobahs, Dudes, and Cactus Giants.

NEW FACES

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder added a bunch of new faces this year.
  • Paul George was acquired on June 30 for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.
  • Carmelo Anthony joins the Thunder after Oklahoma City sent Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick to the Knickerbockers for Anthony.
  • Oklahoma City also signed Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson via free agency.
  • Terrance Ferguson was drafted in the first round out of Australia.
  • Oklahoma City also added PJ Dozier, undrafted rookie out of South Carolina to a two-way deal.

INJURY REPORT

  • Andre Roberson is OUT (left patellar tendonitis).
  • Alex Abrines (groin) is a game-time decision.

NEXT UP

  • The Thunder have a home-road back-to-back next week against the Trail Blazers and Timberwolves on Tuesday, Jan. 9 and Wednesday, Jan. 10.



Three Keys to the Game

Third quarter

Win the third quarter. When the Thunder win the third quarter, they’re 12-0. When they lose, they’re 10-17 on the year. So, win the third quarter and you win the game. It’s pretty simple as that. Especially as the quarter has been the thorn in the side of Oklahoma City all season long.

Three point shooting

The Suns, for all of their failures this season, when they make some threes, they can be tough to beat. They’re 9-6 when the Suns make more threes than their opponent. The Thunder are 8-6 when they out-shoot an opponent. It’s from three. The Thunder will have to keep the Suns at bay.

Rebound

The Oklahoma City Thunder have rebounded well lately but they’ll have to do it again tonight. Oklahoma City is 16-6 when they can grab more boards than their opponent.

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