In one fleeting moment, Russell Westbrook dunked on the head of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Thunder were tied up with the Charlotte Hornets. However, minuets later, the Thunder were eyeballing a double-digit deficit, not able to look back.
Charlotte used a 40-point third quarter to blow out the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-103 on Monday night.
Oklahoma City now has lost three straight games to the Hornets, all by double digits.
“For the talent we have, this isn’t where we want to be,” Paul George said.
Charlotte was relatively in control all evening long, nailing threes and moving the ball well. The Thunder really had no answer with the team’s best defender, Andre Roberson, out with an ankle injury. Charlotte shot 7-of-10 from three-point range in the third quarter, leading to an 18-point advantage in the quarter alone.
“Certainly that quarter was not indicative of who we have been,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said.
All-in-all, Charlotte went on a 22-2 run over the final, essentially six minutes of the third quarter.
Charlotte had six players in double figures and seven with at least eight points. Dwight Howard led the Hornets with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
“What’s crazy, as this may sound, I really, really, really was excited about the way we played offense tonight,” Donovan said. “I really was.”
Oklahoma City (12-14)played the catch up game early and often. It started as the Hornets went up 19-7 with 7:15 remaining in the first quarter. While the Thunder made a run to get back into it, the Hornets did enough to keep the Thunder at bay.
Before tonight’s game, Charlotte (10-16) had lost eight straight road games and were 1-10 on the road.
Westbrook would power Oklahoma City to a 46-43 lead late in the second quarter,but a 9-6 close out for the Hornets saw a tied halftime score at 52-all.
Westbrook threw down a monster dunk on the head of Kidd-Gilchrist, tying the game up at 66-66 with 5:56 left in the third quarter and then all hell broke loose.
Mo Williams drained a three-pointer. Kidd-Gilchrist hit the jumper and then Alex Abrines fouled back-to-back three-point shooters. The next thing you know, the Hornets were on a 13-0 run. The lead ballooned to as many as 20 in the contest.
“I feel like our guys always put forth a good effort,” Donovan said. “For me, there’s times when it’s not going well, you kinda gotta raise up the energy.”
Of course Oklahoma City made a run, cutting it to 11 but that was really false hope. Charlotte pushed it out to a 15-point lead with two minutes to go in the game, icing any real Thunder come back.
Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting. He was only 1-of-2 from three, which is signficantly lower than what he shot, in terms of attempts, compared to Sunday night’s game.
Oklahoma City will now go back on the road and play three games in four nights. They’ll be in Indiana on Wednesday night night. Then, they’ll play at Philadelphia on Friday and at New York on Saturday.
Keys to the Game
Jeremy Lamb: F
Jeremy Lamb was a game best plus-20. He was solid on the defensive side and hit big shots when the Hornets needed it. While his efficiency is lacking, as it always will, he was there for the Hornets tonight.
The bench only scored 19 points tonight. They were 6-of-22 from the floor. While Raymond Felton had been pretty solid all season long, he struggled tonight. Felton shot only 1-of-10 tonight from the floor, nailing a three. Bench has to be better.
Free throws: A+
Oklahoma City shot their best at the line tonight. Their lone miss came in the second quarter as Steven Adams rattled a ball in and out. The Thunder made 24-of-25 shots at the free throw line tonight. This should be a staple for the Thunder. Look at Westbrook who went 9-of-9 at the line tonight.
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