Tag - Anthony Morrow

Thunder introduce Felton and Patterson

The Oklahoma City Thunder formally introduced Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson on Tuesday morning.

Patterson will wear no. 54 and Felton will wear no. 2. It will be only the second time in franchise history someone has worn no. 54. Chris Wilcox wore it in Oklahoma City’s first season. No. 2 has been popular, being won by three different players: Thabo Sefolosha, Caron Butler and Anthony Morrow.

Felton, 33, has played for six teams over his career. He was named to the 2005-06 NBA All-Rookie team. Felton recently played with the L.A. Clippers.

Felton is a veteran-savvy point guard who went to North Carolina. One major plus for Felton is he has remained healthy throughout his career. He has played in more than 65 games for 10 of his 12 seasons.

“Being a 12 year guy, the goal is to win a ring,” Felton said. “This organization has been one of the top teams for the last 10 years.”

Last season, Felton averaged 6.7 points in 21.7 minutes per game, providing a quality back up for Chris Paul. He shot 43 percent from the field but only 31.9 percent from three.

Last season, Patterson appeared in 65 games and started in eight of them for the Toronto Raptors. He averaged 6.8 points per game on 40 percent shooting to go along with 37 percent from deep. Rounding out his usual box score, he averaged 4.5 rebounds.

“Everyone is taking less money to win,” Patterson said. “Our goal is to win a championship here.”

A career 37 percent shooter from deep, the Thunder have in effect swapped Taj Gibson — who signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves — for Patterson, a player who can stretch the floor and demand defenders away from the paint.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will introduce Paul George tomorrow at 6 p.m. We’ll have your coverage live on our social media accounts, so make sure you’re following.

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!

Draft Prospectus: Luke Kennard

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, Jawun Evans, Terrance Ferguson, 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: Luke Kennard
Position: Shooting Guard
Class: Sophomore
Age: 21
Where: Duke
Ht: 6-6
Wt: 202 lbs.

Luke Kennard is a sharp shooter from Duke and he could be exactly what the Thunder are looking for in the draft. His size and shooting ability can provide defenses some troubles.

At 6-6, Kennard is the prototypical shooting guard. He doesn’t have a great wingspan. He’s frame hasn’t added much bulk. Overall, he’s not a great athlete, which means he lacks explosiveness off the dribble.

Despite all of the negative remarks about his physical build, Kennard is an exceptional shooter. His footwork and body control is above the norm. His ability to get to certain spots and nail down the shot is a great reason why he’s a first round prediction. He’s not lacking confidence in the crunch time and came up repeatedly for Coach Mike Krazyzewski.

Kennard is a deep threat with the ball. He shot 44 percent from three-point range his sophomore season. He was 12th in major conference rankings. His ability to move without the ball puts himself position for optimal shot attempts. He reads defenses well and is a quick shot, ala Anthony Morrow. He comes off screens and knows how to pull up off the dribble. He knows how to read defenses well and attack closeouts. He’s attune to stepping back and getting behind the three-point line when being attacked on a shot attempted.

While he’s an exceptional shooter, Kennard has parts of his game that has forced him so far down the draft boards. He struggles against length and as we said, does not have a lot of explosiveness to get by defenders. His short arms and very average lateral quickness can cause him some offensive issues against bigger, quicker defenders. He often plays with a low energy level and when he’s not mentally in the game, he gets lost off the ball.

Defensively, he has big question marks. His size and lack of lateral movement give players with real explosiveness an advantage. Kennard might have to be hidden on the floor against lesser offensive players. Kennard has put a lot of time into his offensive game but forgot to work on his defense.

Kennard is not a player who is going to become an all-star. However, he’s going to become a quality rotational player with some work to adjust his game to the NBA level. Will Oklahoma City make Kennard their pick? That’s unknown but he provides a deep threat Oklahoma City really lacked this season.

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!

Thunder acquire Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson for Payne, Morrow, Lauvergne, and pick

The Thunder and Sam Presti have done it again. Shortly before the trade deadline was reached, Oklahoma City is sending Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for a second round draft pick, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott.

Cameron Payne, second year out of Murray State struggled last season and the 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft has yet to come on after being injured in the summer. Oklahoma City now has only two point guards to show for their roster. He’s averaging 5.3 points on 33 percent from the floor and only 30 percent from three. He had a lot of interest over the summer, primarily the Sacramento Kings. His foot injury nixed any opportunity for a trade.

Morrow was a beloved player who fell off the mountain. His shooting numbers plummeted and he’s really never really recovered. He’s shooting a career low 29.4 percent from three-point range. He’s averaging only 5.8 points per game, second lowest of his career.

Joffrey Lauvergne was acquired in training camp from Denver and he’s a stretch four who adamantly does not want to play the center position. He tries to shoot threes and struggles when he does. His defense leaves you guessing what he’s going to do as he makes unorthodox decisions that hurt his team.

Gibson who is only 31 years old, has been a staple in Chicago for many years. This season Gibson is averaging 11.6 points and seven rebounds on 52.6 percent shooting from the floor.

While Gibson will be a significant upgrade over the youth of Domantas Sabonis, he’s on an expiring contract this season. He’s making $9 million this season.

Fun fact about Gibson: He was originally drafted by Chicago in 2009 with the first round draft pick Oklahoma City sent to Chicago in exchange for Thabo Sefolosha.

McDermott was a three-time First-Team All-American at Creighton. He averaged 21.7 points in his four years as a Blue Jay.

McDermott is averaging a career high 10.2 points per game on 37.6 percent from deep, also a career high, and 44.5 percent from the floor. His 25 minutes a contest are also a career high.

While McDermott can shoot the lights out, his defense leaves little to be desired. His defensive rating of 113 rivals that of Anthony Morrow. In fact, their offensive and defensive ratings are almost identical.

He’s set to make $2.4 million this season and the Bulls already picked up his option for 2017-18, giving him $3.3 million next season. He’ll be a restricted free agent if no one can sign him by Halloween.

Oklahoma City also acquired a second round pick from Chicago in the upcoming draft. That’ll provide Oklahoma City with a few more assets. They also used some of their trade exception from acquiring Jerami Grant to finish off the deal.

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!

Thunder in play for Doug McDermott

Oklahoma City has been linked to another Chicago Bull. This time it is Doug McDermott.

Royce Young of ESPN said Oklahoma City is hot on the tails of the third-year player out of Creighton. Oklahoma City was also linked to Taj Gibson earlier today.

McDermott was a three-time First-Team All-American at Creighton. He averaged 21.7 points in his four years as a Blue Jay.

Since McDermott, properly nicknamed McBuckets for his outstanding shooting ability, he’s played three years with Chicago. He was drafted 11th overall in 2014 by the Denver Nuggets, but his rights were traded on draft night to Chicago.

McDermott is averaging a career high 10.2 points per game on 37.6 percent from deep, also a career high, and 44.5 percent from the floor. His 25 minutes a contest are also a career high.

While McDermott can shoot the lights out, his defense leaves little to be desired. His defensive rating of 113 rivals that of Anthony Morrow. In fact, their offensive and defensive ratings are almost identical.

He’s set to make $2.4 million this season and the Bulls already picked up his option for 2017-18, giving him $3.3 million next season. He’ll be a restricted free agent if no one can sign him by Halloween.

A report earlier this week suggested that the Thunder would like to add a wing scorer to their roster. McDermott definietly fits that bill for Oklahoma City, but it’s weird you would trade for a player who’s similar to someone you already have. Except McDermott has about six years on Morrow. Oklahoma City has also been linked to Wilson Chandler this week. That’s no longer in the works according to Sam Amick of USA Today.

We’ll continue to give you the most recent updates on today’s trade deadline, which is set for 2 p.m. Thunder Time. Make sure you’re following on twitter at @Thunder_Digest.

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!

A look at Thunder’s trade assets

Oklahoma City and the trade deadline are synonymous with one another. While you never know what the Thunder and Sam Presti are going to do, they’ve been active in literally every trade deadline since they’ve moved to Oklahoma City. They’ve made some sort of trade every year. Even if it’s something small like a trade exception or maybe trading Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins.

In a post-Durant world, what can the Thunder do anyway? It’s a weird landscape they’re trying to maneuver through. They’re not contending any more. They’re fighting for their playoff lives right now, sitting seventh in the Western Conference.

Here are the Thunder’s assets and breakdown:

Traded Player Exceptions (TPEs):

  • $7.5 million dollar trade exception – Good until November 1, 2017 (Obtained from the Philadelphia 76ers in the Ersan Ilyasova for Jerami Grant trade – 11/01/2016)

Picks Obtained

  • Boston Celtics 2018 second round pick – Protected 31-55. If the pick is not conveyed in 2018, then the obligation to Oklahoma City expires (Obtained in the Perry Jones trade – 07/14/2015)

Picks Owed:

  • 2017 Second round pick to Denver Nuggets – Pick traded to Denver in the Joffrey Lauvergne trade – 8/30/2016
  • 2018 First round pick to Utah Jazz – Lottery protected until 2020. If no pick is conveyed by 2020, the Jazz will receive the Thunder’s 2nd round picks in 2021 and 2022. (Pick traded to Utah for Enes Kanter and Steve Novak – 02/19/2015)
  • 2020 First round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers – Top 20 protected until 2021. If the first round pick is not conveyed by 2021, then the Thunder will send their 2nd round pick in 2022 and 2023 to Philadelphia. (Pick traded to Philadelphia for Jerami Grant – 11/01/2016)

Euro Stashes (that the team is actually keeping tabs on and developing):

  • None currently

Domestic Stashes (Players the Thunder drafted (or have the rights to) who have yet to sign a pro contract):

  • Dakari Johnson – No. 48 selected in the 2015 NBA draft – currently playing for the Oklahoma City Blue.
  • Daniel Hamilton – No. 56 selected in the 2016 NBA draft – currently playing for the Oklahoma City Blue.

Financial Situation

  • Salary Cap: $94,143,000 — Luxury line: $113,287,000
  • Thunder currently: $86,919,117
  • Oklahoma City is $7,223,883 under the salary cap, 23rd highest in the NBA.
  • They’re $26,367,883 below the luxury tax line.
  • The Thunder have $109.4 million committed for the 2017-18 NBA season, fourth most in the NBA currrently.

Roster breakdowns

  • Oklahoma City currently has 15 guaranteed contracts
  • Nick Collison, Anthony Morrow, and Joffrey Lauvergne are the only expiring contracts

Needs

  • Small Forward – Kyle Singler, Jerami Grant, and Andre Roberson aren’t cutting in. Roberson playing at the three is really out of position. He’s a two-guard.
  • Power Forward – While Domantas Sabonis is a rookie and learning, he’s the worst starting power forward based off PIE and PER for all 30 NBA starters.
  • Backup point guard – Semaj Christon and Cameron Payne aren’t up to snuff and this could be improved through trades.

Players potentially moved

  • Cameron Payne – PG – second year point guard, coming off an injury. Has been linked to Sacramento earlier this season.
  • Enes Kanter – PF/C – Kanter has 1-2 years left on his deal, depending if he opts in on his final season. At $17.8 million next season, it’s a middle of the road contract and could be moved for the right price.
  • Kyle Singler – SF – Singler hasn’t been living up to his expectations after shooting over 37 percent in Detroit. He’s a bench warmer and a fan unfavorite.
  • Andre Roberson – SG – While Roberson’s defensive ability is one of the better ones in the association. His offense is lacking and that’s caused some contract issues with him and the Thunder. The reported prices from each were drastically different.All are potential and no real trade rumors have been linked to them unless it’s been accredited with a link.

Potential targets

  • Wilson Chandler – Denver, SF/PF – Chandler is the perfect fit and has been linked to Oklahoma City off and on but the Nuggets are looking for at least a protected first for him.
  • Carmelo Anthony – New York, SF – Given the source, Amico, it was still linked. Take with a grain of salt. Amico is wrong more often than he’s right.
  • PJ Tucker – Phoenix, SF – Like Chandler, he’s been linked to Oklahoma City on numerous occasions but could be a decent and cheap player to trade for. The Suns want a young player and/or assets in return.
  • Terrence Jones – New Orleans, PF – Jones is on a player minimum contract and could be a decent help for Domas Sabonis. The Pelicans want to move Jones after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins on Sunday night. They could off load him for little to nothing.
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!

Thunder dominated in DC; 120-98

Feb 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots over Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) during the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder (31-25) were thoroughly dominated by the streaking Washington Wizards (33-21) 120-98. Despite an early push to make the game competitive, the Thunder just had little in the tank tonight.

Oklahoma City found themselves in a hole to start the game, finding themselves down as much as 16 in the first quarter. A second unit burst led by 5-8 three point shooting from the bench in the first half, game Thunder fans hope for a solid road victory in the first half.

Then the third quarter reared its ugly head again.

While Oklahoma City entered the second half down 12, there was still hope. A 34-19 third quarter squashed any and all hope for a good game.

“We just weren’t ready to play,” Russell Westbrook said, who finished with 17 points and four rebounds and assists each in a season low 24 minutes.

Westbrook’s plus/minus resulted in a career worst -36.

It is easy to assume that the Thunder were simply hungover from the emotional loss Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors. Make no mistake, the Wizards are one of the better teams in the NBA and should have had the Thunder’s full attention. According to their leader, Westbrook, Oklahoma City was not ready to play.

“I think guys have been playing hard, but we’ve gotta consistently play hard,” Anthony Morrow shared. “We didn’t bring that today. We gotta have an edge every time we step on the court.”

Morrow finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Besides Westbrook, no starter broke double digits in scoring. Midway through the third quarter, when the Thunder were down 26 points, the starters were pulled and did not return to the game.

For a 10 minute game stretch, the Thunder missed 24 consecutive shots. It was that bad.

Billy Donovan revealed prior to the game that he was worried about the Thunder being emotionally drained heading into the game.

“Prior to the game, we were not at the level I am accustomed of seeing. That’s what this NBA season is, 82 games,” Donovan said.

The Wizards were led by John Wall who had 15 points and 14 assists. As a team the Wizards shot a sizzling 62 percent from the three point line. Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris combined for 45 points on 15-of-22 shooting.

Despite the disastrous result, Joffrey Lauvergne had an exceptional game, fishing with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Cameron Payne continued his recent upswing in production by 12 points and shooting 2-of-4 from the three point line. The second year Frenchman was one of the few players who appeared to be in tune with the game.

Oklahoma City will return to the Chesapeake Arena for a Wednesday match against the New York Knicks. It will be the final game before the All-Star break.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Start quickly F

While the Thunder brought the deficit to single digits, the score early in the first at one point was 22-6. The Thunder were not ready for this game and it showed in the opening minutes.

Limit Wizard’s FT attempts F

It had little affect on the game, but Washington’s 28 free throw attempts — and 23 makes — were an indication of the Thunder’s lack of readiness level for the game. Oklahoma City actually shot more three throws — 30 — but the Wizards got to the line too often when it mattered in the close portions of the game.

Hey Bench, show up F 

The Thunder scored 60 bench points but it was mainly out of necessity due to Donovan pulling the starters in the third quarter. When Oklahoma City needed a push from their second unit, there was nothing to be found. The loss of Enes Kanter continues to haunt this team weeks after his injury.

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!

Thunder Snap Skid, Westbrook Erupts Late

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder snapped their three-game losing streak against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night in Oklahoma City with a 114-102 win.

The Grizzlies came into the contest hunting hopeful home-court advantage for the upcoming Western Conference Playoffs. The Thunder, and Russell Westbrook, had other ideas.

OKC opened the first quarter shooting efficiently from the field. OKC shot 53 percent from the floor, but offset its hot-shooting with eight turnovers in the quarter. Memphis was able to use those turnovers to gather a 23-21 lead going into the second.

In that second quarter, the Thunder slowed down the turnovers while turning up the pace of the game. The Thunder took a 10-point lead into halftime after back-to-back three-pointers. Westbrook was able to nail a deep, 2-for-1 three-point attempt, and then assist a half-ending three-point make from Anthony Morrow. The barrage of threes enabled OKC to score 58 first-half points against the defensively minded Memphis Grizzlies.

The Thunder didn’t capitalize on their first-half momentum in the third quarter. Starting the frame off with a double-digit lead, OKC played poorly by letting the Grizzlies outscore it by 12 points in the third. The Thunder hit multiple three-point attempts, but the Grizzlies grinded down OKC’s lead with help from Marc Gasol’s 10 points in the quarter. The Thunder also had eight turnovers in the third, which did little to stop the bleeding.

But, Westbrook had an MVP-like performance in the fourth.

Struggling to climb ahead of the Grizzlies, Westbrook put the Thunder on his back and carried them to the win, scoring 15-unanswered points. Six of those 15 points were back-to-back three-pointers that seemingly broke the Grizzlies will to try and contest for the win. The Thunder would end the game with a 114-102 advantage.

While Westbrook had both an electric fourth quarter and his 25th triple-double, he didn’t win solely on his own. The Thunder bench had their best showing since Enes Kanter’s injury, scoring 45 points and shooting 16-of-24 (66 percent.) Joffrey Lauvergne had 16 points on seven shots, Anthony Morrow had 15 points while hitting three of his four 3-pointers, and Cameron Payne had nine points in 18 minutes.

The Thunder also shot above-average from three. OKC had been one of the most consistently bad three-point teams in the league, but they made 13 of their 26 attempted three-pointers on Friday. Shooting 50 percent from deep forced the Grizzlies to come out of the paint and guard, opening up Westbrook’s prime real-estate late in the game.

OKC will look to continue its efficient scoring Sunday afternoon against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. CST.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

Defend the Rim: B-

Despite OKC notching a victory, it still struggled a bit defensively, especially in third quarter. Most of the damage was done by Marc Gasol (31 points, 58 percent) and his mid-range jumper, but there were times where it felt like Memphis was scoring a tad-bit too easily.

Go FastA+

The Thunder knew Memphis wanted to play slow, but they didn’t let it happen. OKC ran often, putting up 114 points on a defensive-minded Grizzlies team that holds opponents to an average of 99 points a game.

Bench ScoringA+

OKC’s bench had its best performance since Enes Kanter injured himself on January 26. The bench scored 45 points while shooting 66 percent on Friday with Morrow and Lauvergne netting 15 and 16 points, respectively. Every Thunder player who played Friday scored.

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!

Why Thunder can’t send players down to the D-League

With the injury to Enes Kanter, many ask: Why can’t Oklahoma City just call up Dakari Johnson or someone?

Many think this is an easy solution to Oklahoma City’s big man problem and could be a temporary solution. We see it in baseball’s minor league system all the time. Call up a player, and have him play 9-10 games while the person rehabs for recovery. This isn’t MLB so, it doesn’t work like that.

Simple answer: Because you’d have to cut a player for that to happen, giving up any rights to said player.

Someone mentioned sending down Semaj Christon, who is under contract with the Thunder, not the Blue, for Dakari Johnson, who’s under contract with the Blue, not the Thunder. Christon already has played for the Blue this season, giving those with this idea some man power for it.

You’d have to cut Christon for this to work. Oklahoma City wouldn’t be able to call him up and he’d be able to sign somewhere else. On top of losing all rights, the Thunder would still be responsible for his salary on the salary cap. Then, you’d take on the contract of Johnson. When you sent him back down to the D-League, which would be fine, but Christon would be gone.

When the Thunder would sign Johnson, they’d essentially lose his draft rights. Which means he wouldn’t be protected in any way after being cut. Any NBA team could swoop in and sign him. You would be essentially wasting the rights on two players. Some of the drafting and depth Oklahoma City would be gearing to with the domestic draft and stash would be all for naught.

The new CBA has worked to fix some of these issues. They’ll create two spots for “two-way” contracts. The NHL already has it. You pay a player NBA salary when he’s with the team and a D-League salary when he’s sent down. For players like Christon and Johnson, this could be a target for them. They’ve also upped the pay for D-Leaguers as well for those two-way deals. Those could be anywhere from $50,000-70,000.

Many also asked why we didn’t sign someone like we did in 2014-15 when everyone was hurt. You have to have at least four players hurt before you get a disabled player exception. The only other caveat you have on that, besides the players, is it has to be before January 15. Then, if you submit the claim before the 15th, you can only use it up to March 10. Kanter may not be back by then.

Some of the same concerns when many mention just releasing a player, such as Kyle Singler. While the Thunder are a max 15-player roster, Oklahoma City is already $2 million over the salary cap. They do not have a lot cap room to do anything. What players would be available for the Thunder to sign that could help? Nate Robinson? Nope, he can’t help. Maybe Dorell Wright, who’s playing in China. He’s essentially Anthony Morrow, but I’d put my money on Morrow. If they felt they wanted to sign someone, let’s say Johnson, to a 10-day contract, they would lose his rights doing that, too.

There’s why Oklahoma City isn’t calling up any D-Leaguers anytime soon. When all 30 teams have D-League teams, you’ll eventually see the league go to a similar system MLB currently has.  Until then, we’re stuck in our situation.

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!

Thunder drop third straight: Notes/Recap

Mandatory Credit: USA Today

Russell Westbrook dipped, shot and swished from the charity stripe to put the Thunder up one with about three minutes remaining before halftime.

The Bulls outscored the Thunder by 29 points the rest of the game and won 128-100. Oklahoma City has dropped three straight; all three double-digit losses and without Enes Kanter.

The Bulls (25-25) led 55-47 at halftime and scored 39 and 34 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. OKC’s offense once again struggled and it translated to a poor defensive effort and missed assignments.

Westbrook scored 28 points, grabbed five rebounds and had eight assists. Jerami Grant scored 15 points and Victor Oladipo scored 12. Domantas Sabonis and Steven Adams had poor games. Sabonis scored two points on 1-of-10 shooting and Adams scored eight points on 3-of-7 shooting.

The bench scored 45 points tonight, but they played a majority of the fourth quarter and didn’t have an affect on the outcome. The Thunder’s defense looked lethargic and legs looked tired after Tuesday’s loss in San Antonio.

The Thunder are the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, yet they shot 37 three-pointers and only made 10 (27 percent). The Bulls are the worst 3-point shooting team in the league, but they shot 6-of-15 (40 percent).

The Thunder couldn’t stop the Bulls offensive attack. Jimmy Butler has 28 points and Dwyane Wade scored 18. OKC took 19 more shots than Chicago but made 11 less baskets than Chicago. The Bulls shot 60.5 percent from the field and were 24-of-30 at the free throw line.

Anthony Morrow and Cameron Payne were a combined 6-of-21 shooting with seven points each. Josh Huestis scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting but no one has filled Kanter’s role since his injury.

Late in the first half, Westbrook appeared to hit knees with Butler. He walked it off and played the second half but looked concerned initially after the contact.

Up next, the Thunder (28-22) play the Memphis Grizzlies inside Chesapeake Energy Arena at 7 p.m. Friday.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Defend the rim: C-

OKC was outscored 50-44 in the paint. The Bulls were able to get shots at the rim anytime Adams was off the floor and when he was on the floor, they would run a pick-and-roll at the top of the key to try and get him away from the basket. The Thunder did not defend the paint well.

 

Go fast: D-

The Thunder scored 18 fast break points but let the Bulls score 28. One of the older teams in the league ran past the Thunder like they were a local junior high team. OKC looked tired, especially in the second half. It was OKC’s third game in four days.

Bench scoring: B-

The bench scored 45 points but most of it came in garbage time. Seven points came from Huestis, Payne and Morrow. Grant scored 15, but the entire bench unit misses Kanter’s offensive production greatly. It may take a while for the bench to find its identity, but the quicker the better for OKC.

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!

Thunder end road trip with loss in San Antonio

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Quite possibly the most challenging month in the history of the Oklahoma City Thunder finally came to an end Tuesday night in San Antonio as the Thunder fell short to the Gregg Popovich-lead Spurs 108-94.

Tuesday night’s game was much like a roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs intertwined throughout. Oklahoma City trailed by as much as 18 in the second quarter, and trailed by as many as 17 in the third quarter.

However, they kept fighting, and even proceeded to take a lead in the third quarter, although it was short-lived. After trailing by 17, Oklahoma City went on a 25-4 scoring run, a run that was aided by a San Antonio offensive stalemate that lasted from the 8:43 mark in the third quarter until the 2:42 mark.

“We took the lead and obviously, working to get back like we did, we probably needed a little more sustainability throughout that last 24 minutes,” Billy Donovan said.

Oklahoma City was able to take the lead, but soon surrendered it right back to the Spurs, and San Antonio never looked back.

The Spurs lead 79-75 heading into the fourth, and once the fourth period started, they took hold of the game for good. The Thunder’s second unit that started the 4th quarter went 1-of-7 from the field, and were outscored 9-2.

By the time Russell Westbrook and his compadres re-entered the game, the Spurs lead 88-77 and never looked back from there.

Kawhi Leonard dominated the fourth quarter, pouring in 20 points in the final period. Leonard finished the night with 36 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. This was his 15th 30 point game of the season. Coming into this season, Leonard only had 10 30-point outputs for his entire career.

While the Thunder’s defense kept them in the ballgame tonight, their offensive deficiencies were too much to overcome.

Oklahoma City shot 30-of-85 from the field on the night, totaling a measly 35.3 percent. The shooting woes didn’t just stop there, however. Oklahoma City only shot 25 percent from long distance, going 7-of-28 on the night.

The rebounding battle between both teams was dead even, with each team allocating 50 rebounds.

Oklahoma City out-assisted San Antonio 21-16, and also had 10 more fast break points than the Spurs. While Oklahoma City had 20 turnovers compared to San Antonio’s 17, Oklahoma City actually outscored the Spurs off turnovers 24-14.

While the team as a whole wasn’t very efficient offensively, this was not the case for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook finished the night with 27 points, including 3-of-7 from the three point line. Westbrook also poured in 14 assists.

While the Thunder’s resilience was respectable, their offensive ineptitude and poor shooting did them in.

“With our team and our margin of error, we’re not in a position where we can have lapses for a half or a lot of turnovers,” Donovan said.

Oklahoma City will look to get back on track tomorrow night as they face the Chicago Bulls at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tip off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Force Turnovers:  B-

The Thunder were able to turn the Spurs over 17 times tonight, which is above their season average of 12.9. Following this further, the Thunder were able to turn those 17 turnovers into 24 points.

Bench Scoring: F

The bench had an awful game. Anthony Morrow scored 11 points, and the rest of the bench players combined only had 11 points. Without Abrines and Kanter due to injury, it’s expected for the bench to drop off a little, but it’s unacceptable for Cameron Payne and Jerami Grant to only contribute five points between the two of them to the bench unit.

Pound the Glass: B

While the Thunder didn’t dominate the glass, they also didn’t get dominated on the glass. Both teams finished the game with 50 rebounds, and Oklahoma City had 12 offensive rebounds compared to San Antonio’s 10. While they weren’t dominant on the boards, I can live with the rebounding performance.

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!