Tag - Joffrey Lauvergne

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.

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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.
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Thunder Game Day #57: vs. New York Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder (31-25, 19-8 home) vs. New York Knicks (23-33, 9-18 away)

Wednesday, Feb. 15 :: 8:30 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203

Thunder Game Day #19: at New York Knicksvs. Thunder Digest

TV: ESPN (206 Directv, 28 Cox, 720 HD , 602 AT&T U-Verse, 140 Dish)
Online Streamhere.
RadioWWLS Sports Animal 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemyHere.
Line: Oklahoma City is a 7-point favorite. O/U is 218
Notes: Thunder: here | Knicks: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder have been blown out for the last two games and the Thunder are looking to rebound tonight.
  • The Knicks are only 3-7 in their last 10 games, including a 105-104 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon.
  • Oklahoma City beat New York 112-103 back on Nov. 28. Russell Westbrook racked up a triple-double in the win.
  • Oklahoma City has not beaten New York in Oklahoma City since Nov. of 2014.

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 broadcast is on ESPN

LOSS TO THE WIZARDS HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Wizards led for the entirety of the game, but Oklahoma City cut the lead to three points midway through the second quarter before Washington outscored OKC by 10 to close the half.
  • Russell Westbrook and Joffrey Lauvergne led the team in scoring with 17 points apiece.
  • It was the first game for Lauvergne to lead the team in scoring; he also turned in six rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes off the bench.
  • Cameron Payne turned in his second game of the season with double-digit scoring as the second year guard posted 12 points in 23 minutes.
  • Oklahoma City held an advantage in rebounding, 47-40, while tying its season high with 20 offensive rebounds.

SCOUTING THE KNICKS

  • The New York Knicks are 23-33 on the season, 12th in the East.
  • In their last 10 games, the Knicks are 3-7.
  • The Thunder is 11-5 versus the Knicks during the Oklahoma City era.
  • Oklahoma City is 6-2 overall vs. the Knicks at home.
  • Oklahoma City’s last win at home vs. the Knicks came in 2014.
  • The Thunder won in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 28 by 112-103.
  • Oklahoma City has won back-to-back games, both in New York City against the Knicks
  • Joakim Noah (hamstring) is out.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over New York came on Dec. 25, 2013, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 123-94 (29-point margin of victory).
  • Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (14 points) vs. the Knicks occurred during a 98-112 loss on Dec. 22, 2010.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK TRIP-DUBS

  • Russell Westbrook has 63 career triple-doubles, that’s best for sixth all-time.
  • 20 of the 63 are against Houston, Orlando, Washington, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. He has four against each team.
  • Russell Westbrook seven triple-doubles in a row this season is the most since 1989 when Jordan had seven in a row and 10 in 11 games.
  • Westbrook is fifth all-time in triple-doubles.

ALL-TIME TRIPLE-DOUBLE LIST

Rank Name Triple-doubles
1 Oscar Robertson 181
2 Magic Johnson 138
3 Jason Kidd 108
4 Russell Westbrook 79

INJURY REPORT

  • Enes Kanter is out until at least March 8.

50 IS NIFTY

  • On March 24, the Thunder claimed a 22-point home victory over the Jazz and in the process, OKC recorded the team’s 50th win of the season.
  • Oklahoma City has now finished with a winning percentage of .610 (equivalent to 50 wins) six times dating back to the 2009-10 season.
  • Only the San Antonio Spurs (seven seasons with .610 winning percentage), have reached that benchmark more during this period.

STILL GOOD ODDS

  • According to Sportsbook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the eighth best odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
  • They have the fifth best odds to win the Western Conference behind, the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, and the Warriors.

NEXT UP

  • Oklahoma City takes on the Lakers when they return from the break.
  • Los Angeles is 19-38 on the season, last in the West.
  • The Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 games.
  • Oklahoma City is 1-1 vs. Los Angeles this season.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Defend the three

Oklahoma City has struggled to defend over their losing streak and over the long list of the bad games, the Thunder are allowing a horrible 44.5 percent from three, second worst in the association. In victories, the Thunder are only allowing 32 percent from deep That’s pretty simple, Oklahoma City will need to defend better if they want to win.

Rebound

New York is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league and the Thunder, despite the absence of Kanter, should find a way to dominate the Knicks. The loss of Joakim Noah should help the Thunder win this match up.

Hey Bench, show up

If the bench shows up, Oklahoma City runs away with this game. However, they’re non-existent at times, especially defensively. They have to find a way to defend, the Thunder are going to find a victory. The Thunder’s bench averages 35.7 points per game, 14th. They’re giving up 35.2 points on the bench, which is ninth. Oklahoma City has to defend better.

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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.

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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.

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Thunder get rolled by Cavs 107-91

Russell Westbrook recorded his 24th triple-double of the season for the Thunder, but it wasn’t enough as Oklahoma City fell to the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers 107-91.

Oklahoma City got out to a hot start, as they were pushing the ball in transition and beating Cleveland down the court almost every time. They won the first quarter 24-21.

Things got lopsided in the second quarter, as the Thunder couldn’t seem to get a bucket and the Cavs finally started hitting. The Thunder started forcing some bad shots and were eventually outscored by 16 in the second quarter.

Three pointers weren’t falling tonight which ended up being a big problem for OKC. They finished the game 6-of-26 from behind the line. Westbrook was 1-of-6 and Victor Oladipo was 1-of-4.

Leading the Thunder was Russell Westbrook with 20 points, but not a great shooting night finishing 7-of-26. Next was Oladipo with 17, and Joffrey Lauvergne with 14.

This was the Thunder’s first game without Enes Kanter, and his absence was really showing. The second unit had really found a groove, throwing him the ball inside and him either making a post move or dishing it out. That was nowhere to be found today as the offense ended up pretty stagnant.

Oklahoma City had no answer for Kyrie Irving and Lebron James. Both of them could score at any time and were having their way with the Thunder’s defense. Irving finished with 29, James with 25. Iman Shumpert added in 16. Kevin Love sat the second half with an injury, and only played 12 minutes. In his absence, Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Oklahoma City made a run with Westbrook on the bench in the fourth, getting within 82-75 but Irving scored a pair of layups and later drained a 30-foot three-pointer to give the Cavs a 98-82 lead.

Overall, the Thunder just didn’t have an answer for Cleveland’s stars. The bench cut the lead to 7 in the fourth, but just couldn’t get stops. They were trading buckets, and hitting two’s while Cleveland started nailing three’s. The game got out of hand late, as the Thunder just couldn’t keep up.

Next up for Oklahoma City is the San Antonio Spurs. That game will be on the road Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Transition: C-

The Thunder started out with this ranking as an A+ after the first quarter. They made Cleveland look pretty old and slow. But as the game went on, the Thunder stopped running and getting buckets in transition. They didn’t have many opportunities to run after turnovers, as they only forced five.

Big third: C+

The Thunder were only outscored by two in the third quarter. Holding back this grade, is the fact that they only scored 20 points. If the offense could score tonight, the outcome may have been different. Granted, they did only allow Cleveland 22 points, so it was a solid defensive quarter.

Pound the glass: B-

The reason why this grade is higher than the others, is the fact that the Thunder grabbed 55 rebounds. They out rebounded Cleveland but still couldn’t get a whole lot going from offensive boards. Steven Adams finished the game with only seven points. They also allowed 19 points to Tristan Thompson.

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Thunder lose big to red hot Clippers

January 16, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) plays for the ball against Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The odds were stacked against the Oklahoma City Thunder (25-18) coming into Monday night’s showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers (28-14).

The Thunder were on the second night of a back-to-back following their 120-116 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. Oklahoma City was also without their behemoth bruiser down low in Steven Adams, who missed Monday’s game because of a head injury he suffered against the Kings.

Los Angeles was riding a hot hand coming into the game, having won six consecutive games, and they continued their winnings way defeating Oklahoma City handedly, 120-98. The Clippers were hot right out of the gate, shooting 55 percent from the field, including 5-0f-9 from the three point line in the first quarter.

Adams’ absence was felt right from the onset, as Deandre Jordan finished the first quarter with nine points and eight rebounds. Oklahoma City struggled to defend the Clippers big men all night, showing a direct correlation between their interior defense and the Big Kiwi.

The Clippers outscored the Thunder in the paint 64-32 on Monday night, which was an anomaly considering Oklahoma City is number one in the league averaging 51 points per game in the paint. Deandre Jordan finished with 19 points and 15 boards, while Mauresse Speights tallied 23 points along with 10 rebounds on 8-0f-15 shooting from the field.

The triple-double king Russell Westbrook, along with the rest of the Thunder’s entire offensive unit, struggled to get in a rhythm Monday night, and finished the game shooting a measly 42.4 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent from three-point land.

In comparison, Los Angeles shot the long ball to a respectable clip of 42.9 percent, including five three pointers from J.J. Reddick, their sharp-shooting two guard. Reddick finished with 20 points on the night, shooting 7-of-15 from the field, and effectively ran Andre Roberson off a multitude of screens all night long.

The Thunder were given a glimpse of hope to open the second half when they learned that Chris Paul would not return to the game due to a thumb injury. However, that hope didn’t last long as Raymond Felton came in to relieve Paul and proceeded to put on a clinic against the Thunder’s defense. Felton finished the game with 15 points on 7-0f-7 shooting, six assists, and three rebounds.

More importantly, Felton orchestrated the offense throughout the third quarter, finishing with eight points and four assists to help shut the door on a comeback opportunity for Oklahoma City.

One of the lone bright spots offensively for Oklahoma City tonight was Joffrey Lauvergne’s performance off the bench. Lauvergne finished the game with a near double-double at 13 points and nine rebounds, taking advantage of his season high for playing time at 30 minutes. Jerami Grant also produced nicely for the Thunder, finishing with nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from downtown, along with eight rebounds.

Oklahoma City will look to bounce back from this loss Wednesday night when they face the Golden State Warriors at Oracle arena. Westbrook vs Durant 2.0 should be a good one.

KEYS TO THE GAME

BENCH  D

Oklahoma City’s bench was outscored 53-44 Monday night, and probably would’ve gotten a F had it not been for Joffrey Lauvergne. Lauvergne and Enes Kanter were the only two in double figures, and Cameron Payne and Alex Abrines combined for only 12 points. On a night where the Thunder were shorthanded without Adams and needed a boost, the bench wasn’t there for the most part.

THUNDER MONEY BALL  F

The Thunder finished the night 10-for-30 from three, which isn’t terrible. However, they finished the first half 4-of-18 from three (22.1 percent). If not for some garbage time threes, their overall percentage likely would’ve been much worse.

PLAY YOUR OWN SPEED  F

The Thunder never were able to push the ball like they wanted to, as both teams finished with 13 fast break points. Whether that had something to do with being on the second night of a back-to-back, I’m not sure. However the real travesty lies in the fact that the Clippers were still able to allocate 120 points on the night, while only acquiring 13 of those points on the fast break.

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Adams out tonight vs. Clips

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder’s center Steven Adams has officially been diagnosed with a concussion and will no play tonight vs. the Clippers.

Adams was pushed hard to the floor by Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and appeared to hit his head on the floor. It happened at the 10:15 mark of the third quarter. Adams was able to get up under his own power and quickly left to the sideline where he was taken to the locker room. Adams did not return for the duration of the game.

Adams and Cousins have quite the history of near altercations. Last season, the two were involved in a common tussle which resulted in Cousins almost punching the back of Adams’ head. This, along with Adams’ current injury is a sad example of the bush-league play by the Kings big man.

Adams is averaging 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in 42 games this season, both are career highs for the man from New Zealand.

Oklahoma City is set to play the L.A. Clippers tonight at 9:30 p.m. on TNT in a MLK Day special game.

Adams’ status for Wednesday game at the Golden State Warriors is still up in the air. Thunder and the Warriors play Wednesday, Jan. 18.

In his place, expect Enes Kanter to get extended minutes. Over his last seven games, Kanter has been averaging a 20-10 double-double. While his defense isn’t the best in the league, he’s been doing his best not to be the worst player in the league on the defensive side.

You could see Billy Donovan start Joffrey Lauvergne or Nick Collison in Adams’ spot in the starting line up to preserve the bench rotation, which has been on fire as of late.

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Cameron Payne: The Story Of An Underdog

Nov 20, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Cameron Payne (22) on the court prior to game against the Indiana Pacers at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Underdog. (noun) – a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest.

Everyone loves an underdog, am I right? You would probably call me crazy if I told you a lottery pick in the NBA was the one being considered a dark horse, but Cameron Payne is the true story of an underdog.

Coming out of high school, Payne was massively undersized. He started his freshman year at a mere 5-foot-5. He ended up growing into a flashy 6-foot point guard who led his school, Lausanne Collegiate School, to a state championship. It just was’t enough. Payne struggled to gauge interest from high profile colleges as he couldn’t jump in to the top 10 player rankings in Tennessee.

“I played on a pretty good AAU team,” Payne said. “I played with Nick King (now at Alabama) and Johnathan Williams. I came off the bench, so I really didn’t get that much exposure like they did.”

Payne was dubbed a three-star recruit by Rivals and ESPN. He wasn’t in the top 100. He wasn’t a candidate for the McDonald’s all-american game. Payne ended up choosing Murray State over several other low-profile colleges including Ohio and College of Charleston.

Cameron Payne stepped onto the campus of Murray State and began his career as a third string point guard. Former Murray State head coach Steve Prohm was in need of someone at that position to step up, as they had just lost arguably the schools best player in their history as a program in Isaiah Canaan. Payne had big shoes to fill, if he would ever get the chance to fill them.

“It’s not even close,” Prohm said. “Payne’s got the best IQ of any kid I’ve coached.”

After injuries, and solid play from the freshman point guard, Payne worked his way into the starting lineup where he continued to impress. He finished the year averaging nearly 17 points to go along with five assists and two  steals per game. The next year, Payne was even more impressive as he managed 20.2 points , 6.0 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Yet, even after these great years and fantastic numbers, Payne still has naysayers.

“Payne is just not a great finisher inside the paint. On defense Payne is a mixed bag. He is often caught standing straight up. He needs to get stronger, and much more physical if he wants to hold his own in the NBA.”

Those words are just a little part from one of Payne’s draft profiles. On top of the negatives, there were a lot of positives from teams viewing Payne. A lot of general managers viewed him as a knock down shooter, a great passer, and a polished all-around offensive game, with length on the defensive end.

Draft day came, and the Oklahoma City Thunder nabbed him with the 14th selection. Payne had to work his way up yet again after falling in and out of the rotation. Right when it felt like Payne was finding his groove, the Thunder acquired Randy Foye, who seemingly jumped him in the rotation.

When playoff time came around, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan had started trusting him with more minutes.  In five April appearances, Payne averaged 18.1 minutes while totaling 7.4 points and 3.0 assists per game. After his up and down rookie year Cameron Payne new he still had a lot to learn.

“I’ve gotta get bigger, first off. I know I look 12 (years old) every game,” Payne said in his exit interview.

Payne is a guy who pays attention to details and spends time perfecting his craft, and fans should expect him to improve every year.

When summer league came around and the Thunder looked to Payne as their leader, he responded.

He led the league in points per game averaging nearly 19, to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Payne looked ready to make the jump and be a game in and game out contributor for the Thunder. Then, in the Blue-White scrimmage, Payne suffered a fracture in his foot. This came as a pretty devastating blow to him, as the fracture he had could be viewed as fairly tricky, and hard to pinpoint a return date.

Never the less, Payne worked hard and has managed to step back on the court. In his first game back, he only got to play 12 minutes, but he sure did make the most of those minutes. Payne put up 12 points, two rebounds and one assist. He muffed a pass from Enes Kanter on his first play on the court, and you could tell that he was a bit nervous. After he got in his rhythm, all the nerves were settled.

“It went away after I hit my first shot,” Payne said. “But I was cool all the way up to the four-minute mark. Then, it was like, I’m about to go in the game. But once I got out there, everything went away.”

Payne’s return can potentially help the Thunder in a variety of different ways. Floor spacing being at the top of the list, as he can really stroke it from deep. He proved that in his first game back, shooting 2-of-3 from downtown. He can also create match up issues for opposing teams. Billy Donovan can use him in so many different ways, including maybe a two guard look of him and Russell Westbrook on the court together. This creates mismatches for opposing guards who maybe aren’t as quick.

His return also boosts an already improving second unit who has been on fire as of late. Payne works well in the pick and roll, which should open up more looks for Kanter and Joffrey Lauvergne.

The second unit can finally run an offense. Payne has the ability to not only make teams step out and cover him, but he can also dish it out and find other people. Payne has great court vision and quickness which should greatly improve the second unit’s sometimes stagnant offense.

We can only hope that Cameron Payne’s return brings more wins, and better offense. He is no stranger to having to battle back, and regain his way. He’s had to prove people wrong his whole life, and now he has to prove that he can help the Thunder, and come back even stronger from his injury.

Russ has his dance partner back.

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Thunder Digits: Thunder wallop Bulls

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

While you were all watching the national championship, the Oklahoma City Thunder were busy taking care of business in Chicago. Oklahoma City beat the Chicago Bulls 109-94 on Monday night. Chicago never got within 10 in the second half as Oklahoma City were in complete control.

30

Oklahoma City had a season high 30 assists in their win over the Bulls. Russell Westbrook had 14 of them. Everyone, sans Joffrey Lauvergne, had at least one. It was quality ball movement from the Thunder all night. Oklahoma City had previously dished out 29 assists on multiple occasions before.

8-OF-11

The Thunder were 8-of-11 from the charity stripe against Chicago. Both tied seasonal lows, which were done against the Lakers on Nov. 22.

+27

That’s the plus/minus for the Thunder’s Enes Kanter. He was an unstoppable force on Monday night. He finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

2

That’s two straight DNP-coach’s decision games for Anthony Morrow. He’s appeared to be one’s minutes that went to Cameron Payne. Oklahoma City is now 2-0 with Payne back.

8

The number of free throws for Domas Sabonis over the last two games. Sabonis had seven free throws the first 37 games. He had only two free throw attempts his first 26 games.

56.6 PERCENT

Another season high for the Thunder. Their 56.6 percent from the field beat their previous high on Nov. 18 against Brooklyn when Oklahoma City shot 55.1 percent.

5

The number of 20-point games for Steven Adams this season. Before this season, Adams had zero 20-point games. It’s easy to say he’s becoming an offensive force for the Thunder. Adams finished with 22 points and five rebounds.

8

There are eight more road games in the month of January for Oklahoma City. That’s countered by only two home games. The toughest month in the franchise’s history continues.

15

Oklahoma City’s 15-point win on Monday night is the Thunder’s largest road victory this season.

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The Thunder are taking on the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at the Peake. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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!