Tag - OKC

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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Five Thoughts 12-31-17 (Mavs 116, Thunder 113)

Five Thoughts 12-31-17 (Mavs 116, Thunder 113)

1. Focused more on the greater picture of 2017 as a whole and looking ahead to 2018, but tonight’s game certainly deserves at least some commentary. It was a disappointing loss. The Milwaukee loss was very much acceptable to me; this one not so much. Feels like a minor step back after what was a good month a VERY good two weeks or so. I wanted 6-2 on the final eight games to end the year and I got exactly that. But had I known we’d be 6-0 at one point, losing the final two would have surprised me. First of all, clearly we can’t sustain our stellar defense without Andre Roberson. His absence was glaring on that end of the floor and really exposes how we are bereft of any pop off the bench at that position. Roberson is an essential piece on this team. Secondly, the Mavericks hit shots. 15 three-pointers to be exact. The biggest one of the night was banked in off the glass. There is definitely some bad luck at play there catching a team on fire. This was the Mavericks fourth straight win and they were coming off a game where they scored 128 points. Dennis Smith is a fantastic looking rookie and he was great down the stretch. Their record stinks, but Dallas are a better/more dangerous team than many teams in the league ahead of them in the standings. So it’s hard for me to say that “old habits” bit the Thunder tonight because they really didn’t. Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony all played well. The latter two shot the long ball extremely well. Things looked pretty fluid and cohesive on offensive. It really didn’t look anything like those early season struggles. The issues tonight were all about the inability to guard the Mavericks on the perimeter. All that said, it’s still not good to suffer a second loss to Dallas. And it continues a trend of Oklahoma City struggling with non-playoff teams. Three of the bottom four teams in the East are Charlotte, Brooklyn, and Orlando. The Thunder are 0-3 against those teams. Dallas and Kings are two of the bottom four teams in the West and the Thunder are 1-3 against them. If I had to choose, I’d prefer this to the Thunder beating up on lesser lights and losing to the big dogs, but ultimately Oklahoma City won’t be able to make a run in the standings if they don’t start consistently taking care of business of middling to poor teams.

2. Speaking of the standings, now is a natural time to take a look. I haven’t paid much attention thus far this season as what’s happening on the court has been more important. But we are now just four games away from the halfway mark of the season and in a few hours we turn the calendar to a new year. 20-17 is a disappointing record for OKC at this juncture, but when contrasted to the 8-12 start it doesn’t look (or feel) nearly as bad. We’ve seen what they are capable of so I’m not overly concerned about the current standing. I am also not overly concerned about the mash of teams directly behind the Thunder right now. I think they will slowly start to pull away from Denver, Portland, New Orleans, etc… I think we start gaining some distance there to the point where the five seed becomes the basement. The goal will be to get at least to the four seed and secure home court in round one. The three seed is also still in range. So targeting the Wolves and Spurs makes sense as we enter 2018. If they have an aim at San Antonio, they need to make their move now. They are currently five back in the loss column. And we know the Spurs aren’t going to crater. So the Thunder need to get them in their sights and gain a game or two over the next month or so so that they enter post-all star break with a legitimate chance to catch them.

3. It’s always kind of annoying that the NBA season technically spans over two different years. I’ve always ignored the first part of “The 2017-18 Thunder” and just go with the latter year. To me, this is the 2018 season. Last year was the 2017 season. The year we went to the Finals was the 2012 season. So when talking 2017 Thunder the big story would Westbrook and his MVP season followed by the off-season moves to bring George and Anthony to Oklahoma City. 2017 was nothing if not eventful. And don’t discount that. Always remember that this is entertainment. As a season ticket holder/fan I want to enjoy the games and the banter about the team. Obviously winning is the easiest way to ensure that. Beyond winning though, “good stories” and exciting games/moves also matter to me. In that regard, the organization totally delivered in 2017. It was the first season post-KD and my fear was that the Thunder would just sort of die. The organization would just kind of crumble and maybe Russ would leave too and the sizzle of our first eight years would just fade into the ether and memory banks, but it didn’t. Quit the contrary, 2017 proved to be as memorable a season as the Thunder have had. Russ made sure of that. And then Sam Presti built on that by giving us real hope again. Even if the hope proves to be false, it still matters. And now that we know Westbrook is here to stay I think we know that a certain level of hope will remain; regardless of whether or not this particular experiment works. So that’s how I will remember 2017 as a Thunder fan: The year that hope survived.

4. As far as 2017 goes in terms of this particular season… well, November was rough. That was not a good month for OKC. The road woes were terrible and the stars were most certainly not aligning (literally or figuratively). Thunder were tough to watch throughout the entire month and while I personally never totally panicked or wanted changes, I did understand the sentiment and I do think they were flirting with panic button time. December came along and provided a sigh of relief. They didn’t really look good early on, but they started to win ugly. Which was way better than losing ugly. Then, they started making shots and moving the ball and coming together. They started to look like a team that can do some damage. They ended the month with a stutter, but all in all it was a positive progression and a major improvement from the depths of November. Now it’s time for them to take the next step and establish what we’ve seen recently as their consistent identity. They play 14 games in January with a 6/8 home/road split. The six home games are VERY manageable with none coming against upper echelon teams. The road slate is tougher, but of the 8 half are against teams currently not in the playoffs. And of the 14 games only the road game at Cleveland will be against an elite NBA team. They do play three back to back sets, but one is the Lakers/Clippers combo which requires now travel in between. Overall, it is a manageable schedule. I think 9-5 is a reasonable goal. I think 10-4 is possible. If they win 9-10 games in January I think they will for sure begin to distance themselves from the middle pack while keeping the Wolves and Spurs in their sights (possibly even catching Minnesota). The month starts with an important trip out west. It will be hard to achieve the aforementioned win total if they don’t start well. Back to back with Los Angeles teams and then Phoenix. That needs to be a minimum of two wins.

5. Pressed for a predication on the remainder of the season I’d do a lot of hemming and hawing. I’m still figuring this team out and I am unsure of a few things. My favorite thing about them is that they’ve played their best against the best teams. They have especially shown an ability to lock down the better scoring teams in the league. In other words, they look like a team built for the post season. As long as they get there with a reasonable amount of momentum, they are going to be tough to deal with in the playoffs. My biggest concern is that we haven’t seen the offense play consistently enough yet to determine if their early struggles are indeed behind them. Fear would be a regression in certain situations to their poor play from earlier in the year. There is also a glaring hole on the bench. No shooting other than Raymond Felton. No one to rely on to score when the other guys need someone to pick them up. In the playoffs that isn’t as big of a deal, but it could continue to bite them the rest of the regular season. My final prediction is that we see the Thunder gradually improve their standing, but they still have some games/stretches that leave you wondering. I think it will be a long, slow climb but that they will catch the Wolves for the four seed. They will come up a few games short of San Antonio for the three seed. They will have home court in round one against Minnesota in what will be an exciting and tense series. The Thunder will win in six games. They will then get their shot at the Warriors after GS handles the Clippers (who make a late run at the eighth seed) with ease. The Thunder will play GS better than any team did in any series last year. But they won’t be able to get over the hump in the games played at Oracle and the Warriors will eliminate them in a very tough series where many come away thinking perhaps those were the two best teams in the league. It goes well enough to where George and Anthony want to come back to take another shot at it— even if it’s a short term deal for George. If this prediction came to pass I could live with it. I also hope I’m wrong. I hope the Thunder catch the Spurs and get to the three seed. It would likely set up an easier round one series and I would pick Oklahoma City to beat Houston in round two. Catching in the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals would have a much different feel than if they caught them in the second round.

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.
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!

Five Thoughts 12-31-17 (Mavs 116, Thunder 113)

Five Thoughts 12-31-17 (Mavs 116, Thunder 113)

1. Focused more on the greater picture of 2017 as a whole and looking ahead to 2018, but tonight’s game certainly deserves at least some commentary. It was a disappointing loss. The Milwaukee loss was very much acceptable to me; this one not so much. Feels like a minor step back after what was a good month a VERY good two weeks or so. I wanted 6-2 on the final 8 to end the year and I got exactly that. But had I known we’d be 6-0 at one point, losing the final two would have surprised me. First of all, clearly we can’t sustain our stellar D without Andre. His absence was glaring on that end of the floor and really exposes how we are bereft of any pop off the bench at that position. Andre is an essential piece on this team. Secondly, the Mavs hit shots. Fifteen three’s to be exact. The biggest one of the night was banked in off the glass. There is definitely some bad luck at play there catching a team on fire. This was the Mavs fourth straight win and they were coming off a game where they scored 128 points. Dennis Smith is a fantastic looking rookie and he was great down the stretch. Their record stinks, but the Mavs are a better/more dangerous team than many teams in the league ahead of them in the standings. So it’s hard for me to say that “old habits” bit the Thunder tonight because they really didn’t. Russ, PG, and Melo all played well. The latter two shot the long ball extremely well. Things looked pretty fluid and cohesive on offensive. It really didn’t look anything like those early season struggles. The issues tonight were all about the inability to guard the Mavs on the perimeter. All that said, it’s still not good to suffer a second loss to Dallas. And it continues a trend of OKC struggling with non-playoff teams. Three of the bottom four teams in the East are Charlotte, Brooklyn, and Orlando. The Thunder are 0-3 against those teams. The Mavs and Kings are two of the bottom four teams in the West and the Thunder are 1-3 against them. If I had to choose, I’d prefer this to the Thunder beating up on lesser lights and losing to the big dogs. But ultimately OKC won’t be able to make a run in the standings if they don’t start consistently taking care of business of middling to poor teams.

2. Speaking of the standings, now is a natural time to take a look. I haven’t paid much attention thus far this season as what’s happening on the court has been more important. But we are now just four games away from the halfway mark of the season and in a few hours we turn the calendar to a new year. 20-17 is a disappointing record for OKC at this juncture, but when contrasted to the 8-12 start it doesn’t look (or feel) nearly as bad. We’ve seen what they are capable of so I’m not overly concerned about the current standing. I am also not overly concerned about the mash of teams directly behind the Thunder right now. I think they will slowly start to pull away from Denver, Portland, New Orleans, etc… I think we start gaining some distance there to the point where the 5 seed becomes the basement. The goal will be to get at least to the 4 seed and secure home court in round one. The three seed is also still in range. So targeting the Wolves and Spurs makes sense as we enter 2018. If they have an aim at San Antonio, they need to make their move now. They are currently five back in the loss column. And we know the Spurs aren’t going to crater. So the Thunder need to get them in their sights and gain a game or two over the next month or so so that they enter post-all star break with a legitimate chance to catch them.

3. It’s always kind of annoying that the NBA season technically spans over two different years. I’ve always ignored the first part of “The 2017-2018 Thunder” and just go with the latter year. To me, this is the 2018 season. Last year was the 2017 season. The year we went to the Finals was the 2012 season. So when talking 2017 Thunder the big story would Russ and his MVP season followed by the off-season moves to bring PG and Melo to OKC. 2017 was nothing if not eventful. And don’t discount that. Always remember that this is entertainment. As a season ticket holder/fan I want to enjoy the games and the banter about the team. Obviously winning is the easiest way to ensure that. Beyond winning though, “good stories” and exciting games/moves also matter to me. In that regard, the organization totally delivered in 2017. It was the first season post-KD and my fear was that the Thunder would just sort of die. The organization would just kind of crumble and maybe Russ would leave too and the sizzle of our first 8 years would just fade into the ether and memory banks. But it didn’t. Quit the contrary. 2017 proved to be as memorable a season as the Thunder have had. Russ made sure of that. And then Presti built on that by giving us real hope again. Even if the hope proves to be false, it still matters. And now that we know Russ is here to stay I think we know that a certain level of hope will remain; regardless of whether or not this particular experiment works. So that’s how I will remember 2017 as a Thunder fan: The year that hope survived.

4. As far as 2017 goes in terms of this particular season… well, November was rough. That was not a good month for OKC. The road woes were terrible and the stars were most certainly not aligning (literally or figuratively). Thunder were tough to watch throughout the entire month and while I personally never totally panicked or wanted changes, I did understand the sentiment and I do think they were flirting with panic button time. December came along and provided a sigh of relief. They didn’t really look good early on, but they started to win ugly. Which was way better than losing ugly. Then, they started making shots and moving the ball and coming together. They started to look like a team that can do some damage. They ended the month with a stutter, but all in all it was a positive progression and a major improvement from the depths of November. Now it’s time for them to take the next step and establish what we’ve seen recently as their consistent identity. They play 14 games in January with a 6/8 home/road split. The six home games are VERY manageable with none coming against upper echelon teams. The road slate is tougher, but of the 8 half are against teams currently not in the playoffs. And of the 14 games only the road game at Cleveland will be against an elite NBA team. They do play three back to back sets, but one is the Lakers/Clippers combo which requires now travel in between. Overall, it is a manageable schedule. I think 9-5 is a reasonable goal. I think 10-4 is possible. If they win 9-10 games in January I think they will for sure begin to distance themselves from the middle pack while keeping the Wolves and Spurs in their sights (possibly even catching Minnesota). The month starts with an important trip out west. It will be hard to achieve the aforementioned win total if they don’t start well. Back to back with Los Angeles teams and then Phoenix. That needs to be a minimum of two wins.

5. Pressed for a predication on the remainder of the season I’d do a lot of hemming and hawing. I’m still figuring this team out and I am unsure of a few things. My favorite thing about them is that they’ve played their best against the best teams. They have especially shown an ability to lock down the better scoring teams in the league. In other words, they look like a team built for the post season. As long as they get there with a reasonable amount of momentum, they are going to be tough to deal with in the playoffs. My biggest concern is that we haven’t seen the offense play consistently enough yet to determine if their early struggles are indeed behind them. Fear would be a regression in certain situations to their poor play from earlier in the year. There is also a glaring hole on the bench. No shooting other than Felton. No one to rely on to score when the other guys need someone to pick them up. In the playoffs that isn’t as big of a deal, but it could continue to bite them the rest of the regular season. My final prediction is that we see the Thunder gradually improve their standing, but they still have some games/stretches that leave you wondering. I think it will be a long, slow climb but that they will catch the Wolves for the 4 seed. They will come up a few games short of San Antonio for the 3 seed. They will have home court in round one against Minnesota in what will be an exciting and tense series. The Thunder will win in 6. They will then get their shot at the Warriors after GS handles the Clippers (who make a late run at the 8 seed) with ease. The Thunder will play GS better than any team did in any series last year. But they won’t be able to get over the hump in the games played at Oracle and the Warriors will eliminate them in a very tough series where many come away thinking perhaps those were the two best teams in the league. It goes well enough to where PG and Melo want to come back to take another shot at it— even if it’s a short term deal for PG. If this prediction came to pass I could live with it. I also hope I’m wrong. I hope the Thunder catch the Spurs and get to the 3 seed. It would likely set up an easier round one series and I would pick OKC to beat Houston in round two. Catching in the Warriors in the WCF would have a much different feel than if they caught them in the second round.

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.
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!

Three missed calls against OKC in final 2 minutes

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t just step out. He committed two other violations in the final two minutes that weren’t called as the Oklahoma City Thunder fell in controversial fashion to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

“Obviously, he stepped out of bounds,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “Everybody knows that. I did not get a chance to personally see the replay. I was trying to ask for a review.”

Officials said since there was no call, there was no ability to review the play. Had the officials said Antetokounmpo stepped out, only then could they review the play.

When asked, Stafford said this to the pool reporter:

“In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor. There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn’t review it.”

First missed call

Antetokounmpo stayed in the lane for more than three seconds. The violation was a defensive three seconds and would have come with a Thunder free throw and possession. While Andre Roberson hit a three-pointer on the play, this would have been essentially a four-point play, bringing Oklahoma City within 93-90 instead of 93-89 with 1:48 or so remaining.

Second missed call

On this play, Andre Roberson came down with the rebound but it was Antetokounmpo who grabbed Roberson’s arm and forced Roberson to yank it free. This call is really nothing as it would’ve been the first foul within the final two minutes. In the NBA, you’re given a foul to give within the final two minutes, regardless of your foul situation. This would have been there foul to give. So, the Thunder would have retain possession from that point on the floor. Nothing was bothered by this. It’s just a stupid foul.

Third missed call

Well, you know this one. Antetokounmpo went baseline. He stepped out and lead official, Derrick Stafford, missed it blatantly and cost the Thunder the win because the basket gave Milwaukee a two-point lead with 1.7 seconds remaining. This should’ve been called and Oklahoma City would have a chance with 3.2 seconds remaining.

Other things in the Last 2-Minute Report:

Good D Josh

On the controversial play, Josh Huestis guarded Giannis Antetokounmpo very well. There was a little clamoring for maybe Huestis bodied Antetokounmpo a little too hard but the NBA said no, Huestis did a good job.

Russ Lane violation

They say on Eric Bledsoe’s second free throw attempt, Westbrook stepped into the lane early. He did. However, if you make the calls you should’ve made earlier in the game, we’re not even in this position.

What does all of this mean? Nothing. Oklahoma City can protest and it will come to no avail. The precedent it will set with forcing the game to be replayed or taking the points away would be a horrible one. If you replay that point, why not the foul in the first quarter on and and-one? That’s the argument you’ll get.

Secondly, the NBA needs to address these type of plays. Whether it is allowing coaches a challenge or allowing the NBA’s replay center to signal to the scorer’s table to do a replay.

For Derrick Stafford, he’s not having a good week. He was on the call on Christmas where he was cited for missing three no calls against Kevin Durant fouling LeBron James.

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!

Five Thoughts 12-29-17 (Bucks 97, Thunder 95)

Five Thoughts 12-29-17 (Bucks 97, Thunder 95)

1. Let’s start with the elephant in the room. This is contrary to 99% of the narratives you hear, but I actually think overall NBA refs get kind of judged unfairly. We can slow every frame of every movement down to the millisecond now. And when you do that you can generally find SOMETHING that was missed on just about every possession of every game. Chances are that someone out there was moving a bit on a screen or shuffled a foot while holding the ball or grabbed someone or put his hand in someone’s back to gain leverage, etc. There is honestly probably a foul in a technical sense being committed nearly 100% of the time. Obviously if the whistle blows on all of them the games become unwatchable. So refs have to make decisions on the fly and you have guess like RW going 10000 MPH and it’s probably really hard in real time to always accurately gauge exactly what you are seeing. I don’t think people cut them enough slack on that. But what I don’t understand and what boggles my mind is the confusion over the rules and how they are applied. It’s two hours after the game and I’m still not sure we know if that was a reviewable play at the end or not. We know the ref missed the actual call. His foot was out, that was obvious and undeniable. But should it have been reviewed? Is that a reviewable play? I don’t know. Maybe the refs don’t know. I know that if they HAD called him out of bounds that they could have gone to replay to get the clock right. And we also know that they can review a possible goal tending or a charge call or who touched the ball last. So why is the list of reviewable plays at the end of a game so arbitrary? It makes no sense. To my thinking, ANY play in the last two minutes that affects the game should be reviewed if you have a replay system. We can look and see if a guy had his foot on the three point line but we can’t look and see if he had it on the baseline? Huh? It’s just dumb. It’s much like the NFL catch rule— it’s at the point where no one knows what is a catch and what isn’t. As a guy that consumes NBA basketball at a kind of insane level, I’m not even really sure what can and can’t be reviewed and how or why they choose to do it. That needs to change.

2. Thunder just couldn’t overcome that crap start. Even when we were struggling earlier in the year the team generally started well. For the most part this year their energy in the first quarter has been fine. Tonight, the mojo was off a bit. Coming off the emotional wins the past few games and missing PG it sort of seemed like the Thunder were running in sand early. Just sluggish and a step or two behind. Adams in particular looked a little punchy and just appeared out of sorts. I don’t always equate this to “effort.” Sometimes there are human nature realities at play and sometimes things just don’t fall your way. Thunder probably lacked a little focus and intensity in the first quarter and it ultimately came back to bite them. Because they totally outplayed the Bucks the rest of the way.

3. Russ is amazing in all ways. Most of the good. Some bad. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. Regardless of your thoughts on him, one thing is certain: He is one of a kind. No one has every played basketball quite like he does. Just contrast these two moments tonight: when the Thunder made their run in the third quarter, they got it down to three. Russ had just had his dunk for the ages over Maker and the crowd was going nuts. Momentum all on our side. Russ takes the ball down court, gets a good look from there at the top of the key, launches and…. totally airballs it. And I mean airballs it like a guy in the MidFirst Bank halfcourt shot. He missed that sucker by like three feet short and to the right. I don’t know how that is even possible. And then down by three with the clock winding down, he pulls up and drains one with a guy right in his face. Speaking of that shot, while it’s not necessarily the greatest play in the history of basketball, it probably IS the best one for the Thunder. Russ has been off the charts good in clutch situations the past year and a half. Not sure there is another guy in the entire league I want taking that shot right now. As long as it isn’t something totally stupid, I will live with Russ taking those shots. It’s probably about as high percentage in that situation as you are going to get. I appreciate the fact that a game that could have and maybe SHOULD have gotten out of hand, was reeled back in and turned into a must-see finish because Russ is Russ. He simply will not let a game go quietly into the night. Maybe even sometimes when he should. Man, he is so fun to watch.

4. Hate to say it, but I’m pretty much done with Abrines. I don’t think he is a totally lost cause as an NBA player. I think he still has some upside and could turn into a contributor. But he needs a lot of work and a lot of seasoning and OKC isn’t really a place that can offer that right now. Maybe a situation similar to Jeremy Lamb. Lamb got an opportunity in OKC. It wasn’t a great opportunity and the leash was short, but had he played well, he could have stuck around and he would have seen his role expand. But he was on a team with title aspirations and they couldn’t afford to deal with his growing pains. Now, several years later, he has turned into a serviceable (not special) NBA player. Abrines has been given a chance this year. He hasn’t done anything with it. He had one very good game where he hit huge shots in the overtime win at Memphis. That’s been about it. He is horrendous defensively and he’s not a ton better on the other end. He just looks lost. Thunder don’t really have a great option to replace him in the rotation currently so he continues to get some minutes. But it’s reached a level now where I think I’d just pull him from the rotation entirely. They could really use a veteran shooter, but they can’t just snap their fingers and make one appear on the bench. I also think Singler has likely run out of chances and I’m in no rush to see him again. That leaves TFerg, but he’s 19 and more of a slasher/scorer. I like what I’ve seen in limited action this year but he is a long term prospect. The only other guy would be Daniel Hamilton. He’s becoming the new Huestis. He has played well for the Blue and there isn’t much more for him to prove in the G League. That said, he’s shooting 31% from three. So unless the Thunder can swing a deal it would appear Abrines will continue to get opportunities.

5. Easy lose to accept. Thunder started horribly; showed a lot of heart getting back into it. Offense looked far less fluid minus PG which is understandable. They may have been a baffling bad call away from winning the game even though they were down 22 at one point and missing a key player. They are 12-4 in December and 6-1 on this 8 game stand to end the year. It’s fine. As long as this is a blip and not a trend it’s an easy game to brush aside. Keep you eye on the Mavs Sunday though. Their record stinks, but they are pesky and WAY better than they were early in the year. They have won three in a row and they absolutely lit up the Pelicans on the road tonight. Carlisle is such a great coach and he gets the best out of his team. And let’s not forget that they ran OKC out of the gym when the teams last met in Dallas. So the Thunder need to take this one seriously and be focused to end 2017 on a high note.

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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Missed call sinks OKC’s winning streak

Giannis Antetokounmpo went baseline and stepped out of bounds and threw down a two-hand dunk. However, the step out was never called by lead official Derrick Stafford. The dunk counted and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s six-game winning streak is over as the Bucks win 97-95.

The Thunder fall to 20-16 on the season and split the season series with Milwaukee.

An old fashion Russell Westbrook three with 4.6 seconds left put the Thunder equal with the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time all game long. However, Antetokounmpo’s dunk gave them the slight advantage that should’ve never happened.

“Obviously, he stepped out of bounds,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “Everybody knows that. I did not get a chance to personally see the replay. I was trying to ask for a review.”

Officials said since there was no call, there was no ability to review the play. Had the officials said Antetokounmpo stepped out, only then could they review the play.

When asked, Stafford said this to the pool reporter:

“In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor. There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn’t review it.”

Westbrook once again kept his answer curt when asked if Antetokounmpo stepped out.

“I couldn’t see that,” Westbrook said. “You’ve seen it. So it’s over now. It don’t matter.”

If you’re just talking quarters alone, the first quarter was a dark green blur of Antetokounmpo passing and Khris Middleton shooting. The Bucks nailed four threes in the opening quarter. Milwaukee led by as many as 22 in the quarter.

It came to a point where Thunder head coach Billy Donovan subbed out all starters and put the reserves in. That’s when the lead finally started disappearing.

Patrick Patterson hit a three. Raymond Felton fould a lay up and the lead was under 20 with 7:45 left in the second quarter.

Westbrook re-entered the game and Oklahoma City made a run, a 9-0 run before Milwaukee found their way back into the scoring column. With barely brinking, the Thunder were within 45-34 with 5:20 remaining in the half.

The Thunder trailed 58-44 at half.

A Steven Adams dunk off a Westbrook pick-n-roll cut the Milwaukee deficit to single digits with 9:20 left in the quarter. Oklahoma City opened the quarter on a 9-3 burst.

A Josh Huetsis three-pointer cut the Milwaukee lead to 65-62 with 4:34 left in the third. After that, Milwaukee would turn it up a notch. The Bucks would go on big 18-7 run, pushing the lead out to double digits once again.

Westbrook checked back in and immediately starting cooking. The Thunder on the back of the MVP rolled back to an 85-79 deficit on a 10-2 run with 5:02 remaining in regulation.

Russell Westbrook finished with 40 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. It’s the fifth time in the last seven games in which Westbrook scored at least 30 points.

Oklahoma City fought back and had multiple times to tie the game. Raymond Felton missed 2-of-3 free throw. Westbrook bricked two straight. Steven Adams finally made one but the second one was ruled no good off a lane violation. five points in the matter of a minute gone.

A lot could be said about this game. A lot of inconsistent officiating. However, missing nine free throws, allowing 19 points off turnovers and shooting only 45 percent will do you in.

The Thunder host the Dallas Mavericks on New Year’s Eve to end 2017. Game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off on Sunday night. We’ll have Brady Trantham and Co. in arena for all your game day coverage.

Keys to the Game

Win the first half: F

Oklahoma City fell behind 33-11 in the first quarter and you knew it was going to be an uphill climb all game long. Oklahoma City did an okay job fighting back and made it a single digit game in the second quarter. Milwaukee won the half 58-44 though.

Defend the three: C

If this grade was separated by both halves, it would be an F and an A+. Milwaukee was on fire in the first half going 7-of-17. Oklahoma City held the Bucks to only 2-of-12 in the second half from deep. It was a little too late for that when all was said and done.

Make your free throws: F

All Oklahoma City had to do was make some free throws. You’re NBA players. You should be able to do this. By this point, the pressure has to be mounting on all of their misses. Oklahoma City shot a very pedestrian 12-of-21 from the line.

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Real plus/minus: Thunder beats Toronto Raptors

The Oklahoma City Thunder got their sixth straight win as they defeated the Toronto Raptors 124-107 to improve their record to 20-15 for the season. This was a terrific win for the Thunder over a top-tier eastern conference team this team is really clicking now on both sides of the ball and it looks like the big three stars of Oklahoma City is enjoying their basketball.

PLUS

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook was sensational against the Toronto Raptors. Westbrook was in an altercation with Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas that had the two men in a pushing contest. Valanciunas had no idea what he had just done he made Westbrook mad, from that point on Westbrook attacked the rim making mid-range jumpers and a freakish putback slam that had everyone in awe. Westbrook finished with 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting at 50 percent to go along with eight rebounds and 13 assists. Westbrook was fantastic when the Thunder looked like it was losing its energy Westbrook would pump them back up with a terrific assist or basket and then a steal or big rebound on the defensive side of the ball, Westbrook was tremendous at attacking the rim getting to the free throw line 10 times making eight of them.

Third quarter

The Thunder have struggled in third quarters this season after having good first halves the Thunder would come out and lack energy and focus but not tonight against the Raptors. The bench looked like they were going to fall back into that trend until Westbrook came back into the game and set the tone for the rest of his teammates leading the Thunder to win the quarter 36-25 on the back of four Thunder players scoring six points with Westbrook shooting 59.9 percent and Carmelo Anthony shooting 66.7 percent. The Thunder were also good on the defensive end getting three steals and three blocks to buck their third-quarter trends.

Shooting

The Thunder finished the game shooting 46-of-87 from the field at 52.9 percent with all of the Thunders starters shooting above 50 percent with George and Adams being the best with George shooting 11-of-17 at 64.7 percent and Adams shooting 8-of-9 at 88.9 percent. The Thunder have seemed to of shaken off their early season shooting woes and become a more efficient shooting side in the month of December helping them go 11-3 for the month.

MINUS

Bench

The Thunder bench got out scored 50-19. The Raptors bench was fantastic with CJ Miles leading the way shooting 6-of-12 from the field and three-point range at 50 percent scoring 20 points while the Thunders leading scorer was Raymond Felton with seven. The Thunders bench lacked the energy or aggression to keep up with the Raptors bench leading to the Raptors to claw back a 21-29 lead the Thunder had late in the first quarter for the Raptors to win the first quarter 38-32 and go on an 8-4 run to start the second before Westbrook came back into the game to give the Thunder some energy and aggression. The Thunders bench needs to get better at outscoring the opposition’s bench too many times the Thunders starters will go to the bench just for the bench to get dominated and put themselves in a hole.

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Raptors Meltdown! 12.27.17

Thunder blow out the Raptors and the fans go bananas. They hate the officials. They hate Westbrook. However, a trend we’re seeing is that no one hates Adams. They love the dude. Maybe as much as we do. It’s definitely not more than us. Enjoy the Meltdown!

  • We couldn’t stop a midget from getting in the paint which bodes well now dealing with Westbrook.
  • LOL They cannot guard Derozan and Lowry.
  • Let’s **** go. A real test.
  • This is a W quote me, ban me if not
  • Id expect a much better effort. It feels like either a close win or a blowout loss lol.
  • we can beat these frauds up
  • Guaranteed blowout loss tonight. No way I’m watching that sh*t show.
  • Trap game for OKC.
  • we look like a g league team when we face pressure
  • I’m going back to playing the Sims lol
  • Raptors look scared…playoff preview
  • hoyl **** the Raptors are a joke
  • Holy **** they can’t miss
  • Vanvleet on Westbrook, what can go wrong?
  • Badrick Badderson time
  • Brickerson the goat
  • hahaha badrick badderson
  • We the first
  • Where the hell was this CJ Miles like all last week?
  • I HATE fatton
  • felton…
  • Donovan is a terrible coach you need one of the big three on the court at all times
  • OKC are a joke. Bunch of fake All-Stars.
  • Purtle so good
  • This is gonna be a blowout…..
  • …for the Raptors.
  • gg westbrook back in
  • damn it, the monster is back
  • lmaooo felton
  • You breathe on Westbrook and it’s a foul
  • Lmao **** Westbrook
  • lol what a b**** Westbrook is.
  • SUSPEND HIM, THAT’S A FLAGRANT
  • JailRaptors
  • i love JV, **** that midget
  • Westbrook is such a little b*tch
  • **** off, Westbrook.
  • Lol wtf was that Westbrook is petty
  • Ibaka wtf
  • MAn these refs can get hit by a truck.
  • westbrick flopped
  • Goatbrook definitely fired up the team
  • Does anyone on the Raptors rebound? SMH
  • Everything went to **** once the starters came in
  • Why was PG open?
  • WHAT IS JV DOING. NOTHING. Soft as butter.
  • I’d like to see how our bench does against OKC’s starters. Can’t be worse than our starters.
  • I love how salty the OKC crowd is about everything JV does
  • Lowry ego is size of Raymond Felton gut
  • Wtf is Lowry doing man?
  • lmao Lowry
  • let’s just russ tossed
  • Apparently, everything is a foul on Westbrick.
  • get this **** lineup outta here man
  • Just got back. Didn’t we have a 9 point lead? What happened?
  • Russell Westbrook happened
  • DeMar has been shut down
  • unacceptable by Demar
  • Fake all stars at it again
  • Lol **** craptors
  • This Okc team might take the warriors to 6
  • This game is a preview of whats to come in the playoffs…”stars” struggling, hoping JV can score to keep as afloat.
  • Why won’t they feed JV? OKC is soft inside
  • We’re done. There’s NO FIGHT. DONE. I’m DONE.
  • We got this.
  • I have no idea how PG always ends up with a wide open 3.
  • Westbrook and PG13 are made for one another
  • melo is cooking ibakaaa
  • why do we keep leaving PG open?
  • 5 guys guarding goatbrook
  • our “big 3” are not here tonight
  • Medium 3 at best.
  • Adams only has 4 rebounds..but you could think he has grabbed 15 of them..he is so present down there, battling.
  • Deselfish missed Pascal on the run
  • Place is on fire.
  • Lights blew up.
  • The smoke is caseys fault
  • I knew I heard some fire crackers
  • Give the Raps an automatic W for these shenanigans by OKC.
  • Does Casey plan on coaching tonight?
  • Lowry & DeRozan are hot trash.
  • okc defense is pretty good
  • Huestis has wingspan for dayssss
  • lowry is such a fraud
  • CANCEL THE GAME
  • Damn Westbrook is literally torching Lowry lol
  • The results of this game shouldn’t count.
  • refs looking around like “oh **** wasn’t trained for this lmao”
  • Hard to win when the other team takes 100 more shots than you
  • Patterson out hustling us and Powell misses an easy layup as usual
  • I miss patterson
  • lol even league pass knows thsi game is over
  • The NBA has decided to end this game after 3 quarters…
  • Derozan is just awful tonight.
  • **** clowns empty the bench
  • Welp good night fellas
  • Is Derozan high? I honestly can’t explain what he’s trying to do
  • Adams coming back..what is JV doing still sitting??
  • can’t stop Fat Felton.
  • Felton lost weight.
  • bring back trash era
  • now i get why people thing we are still bad.
  • Send Casey to the G-league
  • I don’t get why Van Vleet playing so much in this game?
  • We the fraud
  • never knew Raymond Felton was so good
  • Embarrassed by fatton. Can’t get any lower than this.
  • HO MAN ADAMS
  • That was a top 5 dunk minimum of the season.
  • yikes…
  • lol Lowry got blocked by Felton
  • Adams taking a piece of JV’s soul
  • Can we trade for Felton
  • Our all stars are trash
  • Melo is still that dude
  • Godaddy…How about go fk yourself.
  • it’s time to blow it up
  • Who says Aquaman can’t fly? Because he just dunked all over JV.
  • embarrassing
  • fake 2 seed
  • Demar should start coming off the bench. Start Miles.
  • Paul George amazing
  • Do you think we can sign josh huestsis
  • lol this is why we’re never on national tv
  • Trash team, fire Casey.
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OKC blows out Toronto 124-107 for sixth straight win

The Oklahoma City starters poured in 105 points and the team shot 53 percent on the night as the Thunder thumped the Toronto Raptors 124-107 on Wednesday night.

Russell Westbrook finished with 30 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Thunder on their longest winning streak since Nov. 25-Dec. 5, 2016, which has now reached six games.

Oklahoma City hasn’t at home lost since Dec. 11.

Oklahoma City improves to 20-15 on the season and now have a half-game lead on the rest of the teams trailing the Thunder for fourth place in the Western Conference playoff race.

Paul George made seven threes en route to 33 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including 7-of-10 from deep. George now has 1,000 three-pointers made in his career.

Oklahoma City’s Big Four came out and played phenomenally. They combined for 99 points on 38-of-63 (60.3 percent).

Even Andre Roberson finished with six points and 10 rebounds.

“We took the shots that were good for us,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “They’ve been eager since day one to get better,”

Oklahoma City opened the game, going up 16-4. It was a mix of Anthony and Westbrook as they combined for 12 of the first 16 for Oklahoma City. The Raptors wouldn’t take long before closing on the Thunder lead.

The Thunder took a 29-21 lead with 3:35 left in the first quarter and then the wheels fell off the wagon. The Raptors over the next 5:40 of the game went on a 25-5 run, shooting over 75 percent from the field and holding the Thunder to only two made buckets.

“We played pretty well outside of the beginning of the second quarter,” Donovan said.

When the dust settled, Oklahoma City trailed 46-34 with 9:55 left until halftime. That’s when Westbrook checked back in. Immediately the Thunder looked more assertive and went on a run. Oklahoma City used an 11-2 run over almost most four minutes, cutting Toronto’s lead down 48-35 with 5:45 left.

A George three, followed by a Westbrook put back dunk and the Thunder tied the game up at 50-all with 4:45 left.

Oklahoma City used a 29-10 run to take a 63-56 lead late in the first half and took a 66-63 lead into the break.

The Thunder used a 7-0 start to the third quarter, which has often been the handicap to their success this season, and pushed into a double digit lead over Oklahoma City.

Toronto had come into tonight’s game winners of 12 in their last 14 games. Their lone set back was a loss at Dallas last night. However, the Thunder sent the Raptors back to Canada with back-to-back losses.

Despite the hack-a-Roberson mode by the Raptors, the Thunder were able to maintain a double-digit lead throughout much of the third quarter. A Josh Huestis block and then a Huestis putback, saw the Thunder lead 99-87 with 35.2 seconds left in the third quarter.

Oklahoma City pushed their lead out to 108-90 to start the fourth quarter on a crazy Raymond Felton jumper. The backup point guard has been key to Oklahoma City’s success during their win streak.

Former Thunder player Serge Ibaka finished with seven points and was negative-24 when he was on the floor.

All-stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen finished a combined 7-of-26 for 28 points tonight. The duo was also 2-of-10 from deep.

Oklahoma City’s bench struggled tonight, scoring only 19 points. Which, most came in late game garbage time. The bench shot only 28.5 percent tonight (6-of-21).

The Thunder blew it open down the stretch. A finely tuned mixture of Steven Adams and Russell Westbrook’s passing ability saw the Toronto Raptors get put into a whirlwind they couldn’t stop. Oklahoma City led by as many as 21 in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma City beats Toronto at home for the first time since March 2015.

Oklahoma City will round out 2017 with home games against Giannias Antetokumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night and then Dennis Smith Jr. on Sunday night.

Keys to the Game

Rebound: A+

Oklahoma City dominated the rebounding battle, grabbing over 50 boards in the game. They had a 18 board advantage tonight, out rebounding Toronto 52-34. Seven different players, including all starters, had at least four rebounds tonight.

Defend the mid-range: A+

Oklahoma City held one of the best mid-range teams in the NBA to only 28.6 percent from the field. They were tenacious and handsy all game long. Oklahoma City needed a strong defense after the first quarter and got it.

Take care of the ball: A+

Oklahoma City only turned it over 12 times tonight. The Raptors were No. 1 in the NBA with over 20 points on turnovers per game. However, the Thunder only allowed 12 points off turnovers tonight. That’s how you blow out a team that relies a lot on their defense forcing turnovers.

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Westbrook becomes scoring leader in franchise history

During the celebrating of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 112-107 victory over the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day, a milestone went under the radar. Russell Westbrook passed Kevin Durant for all-time leading scorer for the Thunder with 15,967 career points, 25 more points than Durant.

The record does not include the Seattle SuperSonics history or Durant’s rookie season as that season he played for the Sonics. The Thunder moved from Seattle in 2007 in time for the 2008-09 season.

The all-time leading scorer including the SuperSonics is Gary Payton with 18,207 who played for the SuperSonics between 1990-2003.

With Westbrook signing his five-year extension in the preseason Westbrook has made the decision to become a Thunder/Sonics legend not that he wouldn’t already be talked about as one but Westbrook staying for five more years puts him in position to become the all-time leader in the history books.

Some of the records Westbrook is chasing are:

Games Played

Payton holds with 999 Nick Collison is third on that list with 902* Westbrook is sixth with 702. If Westbrook plays every game for the rest of the season he could reach fifth which is Jack Sikma at 715. If Westbrook plays his career average of 70 games a season Westbrook would finish with 1,052 games making him the all-time leader.

Minutes Played

Held by Gary Paton which is 36,858 Westbrook is fifth with 24,020. If Westbrook plays all 82 games playing his average minutes of 34.2 minutes per game he would play 2,804 minutes per season which would add up to after five more years 38,402 minutes making him the all-time leader in minutes.

Field Goal Makes and Attempts

Gary Payton leads with 7,292 field goals and 15,562 attempts Westbrook is fourth in field goals with 5,531 and second in attempts with 12,795. Westbrook averages 7.9 field goals on 18.2 attempts so over five seasons Westbrook could finish with 8,770 field goals and 20,257 attempts making him the all-time leader.

Three-Point Makes and Attempts

The leader of three-point makes and attempts is Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant with 1,143 and 3,009 attempts Westbrook is fifth in three-point makes with 760 and fourth in attempts with 2,429 Westbrook makes an average of 1.1 on 3.5 attempts per game so add five more years and Westbrook would have 1,211 in makes and 3,864 attempts making him the all-time leader in both categories.

Free Throw Makes and Attempts

Kevin Durant leads the organisation with 4,599 makes and 5,212 attempts Westbrook is second with 4,145 and 5,070 Westbrook averages 5.9 makes on 7.2 attempts which over five more years would leave him with 6,564 and 8,022 attempts which would make Westbrook the all-time leader.

Total Rebounds

The leader of total rebounds is Jack Sikma with 7,729 Westbrook is fifth with 4,468 Westbrook averages 6.4 per game for his career so add five more years at that pace and Westbrook would have 7,092 leaving him as the second most rebounds in Thunder/SuperSonics history.

Assists

Gary Payton is the all-time leader with 7,384 Westbrook is second with 5,630 Westbrook averages eight per game for his career over five more years Westbrook could finish with 8,910 making him the all-time leader. Steals Gary Payton leads with 2,107 Westbrook is third with 1,224 Westbrook averages 1.7 per game over his career add five more years and he would finish with 1,921 which would make him second on the all-time list.

Westbrook has put himself in a position to become the greatest SuperSonics/Thunder player of all-time by re-signing with the Thunder for five more years instead of leaving to go back home to Los Angeles to team up with a LeBron James or now teammate Paul George instead Westbrook decided if he was going to win an NBA championship it was going to be in Oklahoma City, if he didn’t win a championship he would be happy saying he was a one-man team and could say he gave his all to OKC.

Statistics are from https://www.basketball-reference.com

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