Tag - road

Thunder beat Pacers in Paul George’s return

While Paul George gathered up all of the pre-game chatter. He took in the boos and the jeers. However, it was Steven Adams who brought it tonight, scoring 23 points and pulling down 13 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 100-95.

Oklahoma City improves to 13-14 on the year and won five of the last seven.

In Paul George’s first return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse since being traded in June, the boos reigned down from the first time he took the court for warm ups to his last touches in the final seconds. While the crowd wasn’t overly aggressive or anything, it had an apparent effect on George as he struggled shooting all night, finishing only 3-of-14 from the floor for 12 points.

While the Big Three struggled all evening long, it was Steven Adams who came to the rescue. Adams had 15 points at halftime and was the catalyst for everything Oklahoma City did. He was a scoring and rebound machine. He also had a huge hand in the clutch possession, forcing Thaddeus Young into a turnover. Oklahoma City rode the Kiwi train all the way to victory town.

After a sluggish first quarter, Raymond Felton and the Oklahoma City Thunder bench found the lead, with a 9-0 run to start the second quarter. Oklahoma City eventually took the league late in the quarter and held a 51-46 lead at halftime.

Russell Westbrook pulled down his ninth triple-double of the season and the 35th of 2017, which is an NBA record for a calendar year.

The Pacer’s winning streak ended at four as they had won 11 of their last 15.



Indiana charged back early in the third quarter, taking a 63-59 lead as Thunder nation held their breath. However, Oklahoma City would outscore the Pacers 14-6 down the stretch, taking a 73-69 lead into the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma City’s bench did their job again with a couple of Patrick Patterson three-pointers, including one to give Oklahoma City a 92-81 lead with 5:16 remaining in the game.

Indiana would get within 96-95 with 40.8 seconds remaining but a last second tip in by Alex Abrines gave Oklahoma City a three-point lead for good. George would ice the game with two free throws.

“I was impressed. He’s not a very strong guy,” Josh Huestis said of Abrines.

With the victory, coupled with the Jazz loss, the Oklahoma City Thunder moved into the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City will continue the show on the road as they head to the East coast for a back-to-back with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. Then, it’s Ron Baker and the New York Knicks on Saturday night. Both games are scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. CST.

Keys to the Game

Defend the three: B

While the Pacers made 35.5 percent of their threes, you really have to examine how they got to the point. Outside of the opening quarter, the Thunder held the Pacers to 6-of-20 (30 percent). Quality close out defense really helped the Thunder tonight.

Bench: A+

Tonight, the bench was amazing. They were why Oklahoma City was even in the game. They were why the Thunder even fought. When you have these players come off the bench, cold as ever, and contribute, it gives your team a boost. Oklahoma City’s bench scored 29 points tonight, well above their season average of 23 points.

Make your free throws: D

The Thunder missed a bunch of free throws again, only made 62.5 percent. Oklahoma City has to and I mean HAS to find a way to make their free throws. Westbrook missed four free throws and Anthony missed two himself. Oklahoma City has to figure this out.

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There’s no fun in Thunder as Paul George returns to Indiana

Oklahoma City is off to their worst start since the 2014-15 season.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are two games below .500 and set in the ninth spot of the Western Conference, just outside the playoffs. It’s a far cry from where the basketball world thought they would be 26 games into to this season.

Paul George seems to be at a loss in explaining his team’s recent struggles, telling reporters “It’s getting to a point where we can’t allow ourselves to be at this point. We can say we’re going to figure it out, we can say all that, but at some point, it’s gotta stop.”

Gotta stop? How about it’s gotta start? The Thunder have bonafide superstars, stars that supposedly admire and like each other. In the banana boat age, that should be enough to make you more than competitive. However, this group seems to be lacking the critical element that Golden State figured out a long time ago.

Fun.

Kevin Durant expressed on his way out the door that the Warriors love fest was one of the main reasons he left OKC for the left coast.

The Thunder are hitting the road for the next three games starting tonight with Paul George’s homecoming in Indiana. George knows the crowd will treat him to the same reception that greeted KD when he returned to The Peak. What we don’t yet know is to what extent his teammates rally behind him. Carmelo Anthony was quick to point out that picking on George amounts to picking on the Thunder. If that is true, then we might see some life in this team who looks they are grinding towards the end of the season heading into the playoffs.  All of which would be fine, if it wasn’t December.

George says Oklahoma City is enjoying the battles and “everything that brought this team together.” But what really brought this team together? This wasn’t an organic process like Thunder teams before, or even three guys “clouding” the way the Heat did in 2010. It was trading guys like Victor Oladipo, who Billy Donovan touts for the hard work he was putting in during the offseason, and Enes Kanter, who not only produced on the offensive end but was maybe the most likable guy in the locker room.

There is nothing natural about this version of the Thunder, and it shows in the lackluster performances they’ve racked up this season. Despite the schedule not being kind to Oklahoma City,  this road trip can’t come a moment too soon. Maybe George returning to a bloodthirsty Pacer fan base, and Melo returning to Madison Square Garden might give the Thunder something to rally around. If that doesn’t do the trick, then maybe Sam Presti pushes the panic button along with his critics.

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Paul George expects Pacer fans to boo

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George are returning to Indiana for the annual trip to the Hoosier State. The big different this time is Paul George returning to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse for the first time as an opponent.

On Tuesday at practice, George said he expected boos when asked what his expectations are for returning to Indiana for the first time since being traded.

“Boos,” George said. “I honestly wouldn’t expect it to be any other way.”

George was traded on June 30 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Thunder won the first meeting in Oklahoma City handedly but on the road it may be a different atmosphere for the Thunder and George.

“The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans,” George said.



For George, he’s looking forward to being the villain in his former home. George told the Pacers front office he wasn’t re-signing with the organization in mid-June. It only took two weeks for the Pacers to trade George.

“It’s for whatever reason I’ll be booed but I’m going to embrace it,” George said. “I’m gonna thrive on that and it’ll give me energy to play better.”

Oklahoma City and Indiana will tip-off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at Banker’s Lifefield house. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

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Third quarter, Hornets beat the Thunder

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.

Bench: F

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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Career night for Abrines as OKC survives OT

Alex Abrines scored a career high 20 points starting in place of Paul George as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies 102-101 in overtime on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Russell Westbrook was fouled with 4.4 seconds left in overtime, making both free throws to give Oklahoma City the victory.

Abrines hit big three after big three, nailing down five threes in the contentious game, which was a career high.

Oklahoma City now has won four of their last five games, improving to 12-13 on the season.

“It’s tough to win in this building.,” Westbrook said. “They still can play well here, so it’s a good win for us.”

It’s also Oklahoma City’s first road win since beating Milwaukee on Oct. 31.

More random things: It’s also Oklahoma City’s second largest comeback. The Thunder came back from 21 down at Orlando last year on March 29, 2017.

The road to a 20-point comeback starts with the other team nailing shots and the Thunder not defending. Those two things came up big. Tyreke Evans and the Grizzlies were popping threes as if they were the Golden State Warriors. Memphis built a 34-19 lead after the first quarter.



In overtime, the Grizzlies built a 98-95 lead with 2:26 remaining, but Alex Abrines nailed a three to equal the game up at 98-98.

Westbrook drove through the lane, hitting a lay up and pulling the Thunder within one with 13 seconds remaining.

Once again, free throws helped the Thunder tonight. JaMychal Green missed two free throws, leading to the Thunder’s victory.

The Grizzlies would continue piling it on the Thunder, taking a 50-30 lead with 5:08 left in the second quarter. It appeared a team that had lost 13 of their last 14 games and 16 of their last 19 games were going to run away from the Thunder. However, that’s when the Thunder decided to get back into the game.

Oklahoma City would go on a 13-0 run, cutting the deficit down the 50-43 with 1:38 left until halftime.

Memphis would lead 57-46 at halftime.

Oklahoma City would open the second half on an 18-6 run, taking their first lead at 64-63 lead with 4:24 left in the quarter. From there on out, the Grizzlies and the Thunder would ride the seesaw, going back and forth. Neither team would have more than a five-point lead.

The Thunder took a 67-66 lead after the third quarter.

Carmelo Anthony tipped in a missed bucket with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter, giving the Thunder a 91-88 lead.

Anthony had an opportunity to give the Thunder a three-point lead but missed the front end of two free throws. Memphis would one up the Thunder, missing 2-of-4 free throws in the final seconds. The free throws tied the game up at 92-all.

 

Westbrook, who was 7-of-29 shooting, also went 1-of- from three-point range. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 14 assists for his eighth triple-double of the season. Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams led the Thunder with 21 points and nine rebounds each.

Oklahoma City returns home for a showdown with the Charlotte Hornets on Monday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and we’ll have your coverage all over your social media and here.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Turnovers: A

Oklahoma City only turned it over 10 times. They did a quality job of taking care of the ball against a team that was getting hot from three. The Thunder only had five turnovers in the second half and overtime. They also were good in only allowing 10 points off those turnovers.

Bench: B

While the bench scoring was really low, only 18 points, but it was in the manner they would score. Oklahoma City’s Raymond Felton came on hot when it mattered the most. Finding Josh Huestis for three, nailing back-to-back jumpers and then finding Huestis for a cutter, the Thunder held their largest margin at a five-point advantage

Free Throws: F

Oklahoma City finished the game 18-of-31 from the free throw line and once again an abysmal free throw performance almost cost the Thunder a victory. Anthony and Westbrook finished a combined 10-of-16 at the free throw line. They want to be superstars and leaders of their teams, they have to make the free throws.

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Thunder Game Day No. 23: vs. Utah Jazz

Oklahoma City Thunder (10-12, 8-3 home) vs. Utah Jazz (13-11, 2-7 away)

Tuesday, Dec. 5 :: 7:00 p.m. CST :: Chesapeake Energy Arena (18,203)

Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 7-point favorite. The over/under is 197.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Game Notes: Thunder: here | Jazz: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder come into tonight’s contest with a two-game win streak. It’s a super small win streak but it’s still one, I guess. Oklahoma City will put that on the line tonight against arguably the hottest team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz.
  • The Jazz come into tonight’s game fresh off a 47-point (not a typo) win over the Washington Wizards. Rudy Gobert returned to the line up and the Jazz looked down right scary in the victory.
  • Oklahoma City and Utah have met once this season, an nine-point Utah win, in the second game of the year. Oklahoma City trailed by a lot that night and closed to within five but could not get any closer.
  • This is the last game of a three-game home stand before Oklahoma City hits the road for two weeks. The Thunder’s next five of six are all on the road. So, it’s imperative the Thunder start off strong here with a win.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

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

SCOUTING THE Jazz

  • The Utah Jazz are 13-11 on the season, seventh in the Western Conference.
  • Utah has won six in a row, the third largest win streak currently in the association.
  • In their last 10 games, Utah is 7-3.
  • In their last game, the Utah Jazz beat the Washington Wizards 116-69.
  • When Utah and Oklahoma City for the first time on Oct. 21, the Jazz won 96-87.
  • Against the Jazz, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 103-78 all-time.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder are 24-12 against Utah.
  • When games are played at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City is 15-2 all-time against Utah.
  • The Thunder have won 12 straight home games against Utah. They have not lost to the Jazz at home since Halloween 2010.
  • Oklahoma City is 7-3 against Utah in their last 10 games.
  • Injury Report:
    Joe Johnson (wrist) is out.
    Dante Exum (shoulder) is out.
    Rodney Hood (ankle) is a game-time decision.
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Utah came on Feb. 14, 2012, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 111-85 (26-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (21 points) vs. Utah occurred during a 99-120 loss on Oct. 31, 2010.

NEW FACES

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

Injury Report

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy for tonight’s game.

Next Up

  • Oklahoma City travels down to Mexico City for a one-game showdown with the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
  • Then, the Thunder travel to Memphis to play the Grizzlies on Saturday night.
  • Oklahoma City splits up the mini-road trip with a single game at home vs. the Hornets on Monday, Dec. 11.

Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

The Thunder are 8-2 when they out rebound their opponent. That’s something Oklahoma City is going to need to do tonight if they’re going to steal a win away from the pesky Jazz. While Utah may not be the best rebounding team in the association, they do a good job of keeping opponents off the offensive glass. The Thunder need to win this tonight.

Points off turnovers

The top two teams in points in turnovers are meeting tonight. Oklahoma City is No. 1 and Utah is No. 2. In their first meeting the turnovers were similar but it was the Jazz who found their way into transition and scored more on the turnovers. Oklahoma City has to win this battle tonight.

Get to the line

The Thunder are middle of the league in attempts. However, when you look over the last five games (OKC is 2-3 in those games) the Thunder are attempting less than 19 attempts per game and are 20th in the league over that span. The Oklahoma City Thunder need to get to the line early and often to win this one.

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Thunder Game Day No. 20: at Orlando Magic

Oklahoma City Thunder (8-11, 2-8 away) vs. Orlando Magic (8-13, 4-4 home)

Wednesday, Nov. 29 :: 6:00 p.m. CST :: Amway Center (18,846)

Coverage: FS Oklahoma (DirectTV 675, Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27) | 98.1 FM/640AM/97.1 Tulsa
View from the enemy: Here.
Line: The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 6-point favorite. The over/under is 212½.
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go | WWLS Sports AnimalLive Stats | Twitter | Facebook
Notes: Thunder: here | Magic: here

SETTING THE SCENE

  • Things are melting down in Oklahoma City. What’s a good recipe for quelling a meltdown? The Orlando Magic. They welcome the Thunder to the Amway Center tonight.
  • The Orlando Magic are struggling much worse than the Thunder, despite what most may be thinking in Thunder town. The Magic have lost nine in a row.
  • Oklahoma City has lost four of the last five heading into tonight’s match up.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

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

SCOUTING THE Pistons

  • The Orlando Magic are 8-13 on the season, 12th in the Eastern Conference.
  • In their last 10 games, the Magic are an abysmal 1-9, worst in the NBA.
  • In their previous game, the Orlando Magic lost to the Indiana Pacers 121-109.
  • In their season series last year, the teams split their series. Each team won on the road.
  • In their all-time series, the Thunder lead the Magic 34-22.
  • Since moving to Bricktown, the Thunder lead the Magic 12-6.
  • When games are played in Orlando, the Thunder are 5-4. Oklahoma City owns a three-game winning streak in Orlando.
  • Injury Report:
  • The Thunder’s largest margin of victory over Orlando came on Nov. 8, 2009, where Oklahoma City prevailed by a score of 102-74 (28-point margin of victory).
  • Meanwhile, the Thunder’s largest margin of defeat (23 points) vs. Orlando occurred during an 88-111 loss on Feb. 25, 2011.

NEW FACES

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

Injury Report

  • Oklahoma City is relatively healthy for tonight’s game.

Next Up

  • Oklahoma City begins 18 games over a stretch of 33 days leading up to New Year’s Eve against Dallas.
  • The Thunder host the Minnesota Timberwolves, who the Thunder have lost to twice this season, will be in Oklahoma City on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
  • Oklahoma City hosts the Spurs on Sunday, Dec. 3. A 6 p.m. tip-off is scheduled.

Three Keys to the Game

Rebound

Oklahoma City’s rebounding is more imperative than ever. They’re 5-0 when they out rebound their opponents. That’s something Oklahoma City is going to need to do again.

Less is more

Oklahoma City is 1-7 when they give up 100 points. The Thunder are needing to keep the Magic under the 100-point mark. Oklahoma City allows 100 points, this game could be a toss up.

Get to the line

Oklahoma City has done a good job getting to the line during their last two wins. The Thunder are 5-2 when they attempt more free throws than their opponent. Maybe that’s something they can do tonight. Since November started, the Thunder have gotten to the line a lot more. They’re averaging five more attempts per game than in October.

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Thunder blow another early lead, OKC lose to Spurs 104-101

It was another blown lead by the Oklahoma City Thunder as they drop a 104-101 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio on Friday night.

It is something Thunder fans have become way too familiar with early this season: Thunder start strong, gain a big lead, then spend the rest of the game playing undisciplined and end up losing a game they should have won. Oklahoma City found themselves up by as much as 23 points in the first half, but answered that strong early play reverting back to iso ball, and lack of effort on the defensive end.

Oklahoma City began the game holding the Spurs to just 15 points in the first quarter, but the defense broke down midway through the second quarter. The Thunder gave up 89 points in the next three quarters, giving up plenty of offensive boards and wide open three-pointers.

San Antonio hit 14 total three-pointers tonight, shooting 40 percent from deep. They also out-rebounded Oklahoma City, as well shot better from the charity stripe.

Oklahoma City built their early lead off of Spurs first quarter turnovers, turning the ball over seven times in the first 12 minutes of the game. After that first half, the Spurs cleaned it up. They only turned it over four times in the second half and the Thunder just couldn’t hold off the comeback any longer.

Thunder did build a big lead, but it was very early. The Spurs were back within single-digits before halftime, and the second half was pretty much back and forth the whole way.

Billy Donovan was asked about the great start, and then letting the Spurs back into the game, “Obviously we got off to a great start, but playing on the road you know the home team was going to make a run” Donovan said. “I didn’t think that was going to continue or maintain for the whole game,” he continued.

Billy went on to talk about how the Thunder did not close the first half well, and it was a back and forth battle from there on out, and a game of runs the whole second half.

It wasn’t a great night shooting wise from Thunder’s big three, but Russell Westbrook was especially bad. He hit only five of his 22 attempts from the field, at one point missing 11 shots in a row. He was frustrated much of the night, and when he struggles like this, it will most likely result in a loss for Oklahoma City. He finished with just 15 points.

Paul George also struggled offensively, hitting only five of his 16 field goal attempts for 18 points.

Carmelo was far and away the best offensively tonight, putting up a team-high 20 points on nine for 17 shooting from the floor.

Even though their was plenty of iso ball, the Thunder moved the basketball pretty well for the most part except for in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City continues to revert to old habits in crunch time. As the season goes on, hopefully that is something the Thunder can avoid.

Oklahoma City had plenty of chances late to tie this one up. After missing two three pointers that were open looks, Carmelo hit a shot that was initially ruled a three-pointer, but was just a long two after the review.

Still, after Spurs hit a couple free throws, Oklahoma City had one more chance. The Thunder tried to get a look from deep but ran a very ugly inbounds play that ended up with Westbrook heaving the ball with one hand towards the basket.

Late game execution continues to be a thorn in Thunder’s side, and something they will need to be working on continuously up till playoff time in April.

For the Spurs, it was a total team effort, as everyone chipped in offensively. They were once again without their superstar in Kawhi Leonard, which makes this win even more impressive for San Antonio.

Guys like Danny Green, Manu, and Davis Bertans hit big shots from long distance all game long. Aldridge also did his part, putting up a game-high 26 points along with a few key offensive rebounds late in the game.

For Oklahoma City, it is the same story as it has been all season long: being able to stay focused and maintaining leads. The Thunder now have eight losses on the season, and the majority of those they had significant leads but ended up losing it at the end.

The Thunder are now once again below .500, and have a tough few games coming up, including the Golden State Warriors in just 5 days. Next up: at the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night.

Keys to the game

Lawler’s law: F

As mentioned in the pre-game, the Spurs were 7-0 this season when they put up 100 points or more. Make that 8-0 as they win tonight, with scoring 104 points. Thunder fall to 1-7 on the season when they give up 100 points or more.

Control fast break: A

Oklahoma City definitely slowed down the Spurs, holding them just nine fast break points. The Spurs made up for that by protecting the ball in the second half, and getting plenty of second chances off the offensive glass.

Get to the line: D

Oklahoma City only shot 21 free throws, compared to the Spurs’ 28 attempts. The Thunder were aggressive, but did not get to the line as much as they would have liked, and only hit 14 of their 21 attempts. This game might end differently if Oklahoma City takes advantage of the easy points.

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Five Thoughts 11-15-17 (Thunder 92, Bulls 79)

1. I thought the Thunder did a really nice job tonight of TRYING to respect the game and take the Bulls seriously. However, that ultimately proved impossible. I get it. I tried too. Again, impossible though. As you might imagine considering I operate this blog for free and completely for my own kicks, I’m a basketball/Thunder nerd. But not even I could fake it tonight: that was boring as hell. My God, I started watching the clock about midway through the first quarter. The Thunder came out and played hard early on, completely stifling a pathetic opponent, but as the game progressed, it just wasn’t realistic to maintain 100% focus. They were bored. They did what they needed to do. They took a big lead early, never allowed the Bulls to threaten, and they even coveted the spread (albeit barely). Along the way they also took a nap, as did I.

2. Due to the above, my analysis for this game is neutral. I won’t give them any real credit for their win and I won’t deduct anything for some of their more ugly moments. It is very hard to eliminate human nature from the game. They knew they could win this game even giving a D+ effort and in those cases it is difficult to then show up with your A+ game. I think they likely dropped a C+ and called it an easy night. That’s fine. Again, they didn’t mess around to a point where the game was ever in doubt so it didn’t bother me. It’s a long, long season– you can’t go balls to the wall every night. Pacing yourself is fine. The Bulls are atrocious. It would almost be rude to give 100% effort against them. The Thunder have played them twice and destroyed them both times. Whatever.

3. My only actual takeaway from this game would be to point out that Russ is getting off to very slow starts lately. Even last year as he was rewriting the record books he often started more methodically. His aim was often to get others involved early and then go into bananas mode as the game wore on. But he was still dominating the flow. This year, it’s more of a struggle early in games. As a matter of fact, the offense didn’t flow well at all tonight until Felton relieved him late in the first quarter. That is precisely when things opened up and the Thunder calmed down a bit and started getting better shots. The defense was great all around, but the offense was ugly– until the switch at PG. Then, once he came back in I thought Russ played quite well and had his hands all over the game. They extended the lead to an insurmountable level and Russ was a big part of that. But I do think it is worth noting that he seems a bit off at the start of games right now. It isn’t anything I’m worried about, likely just part of the feeling out process, but it is something that could hurt them against better teams if it causes them to fall behind.

4. There was some frustration and tension after the four game losing streak and 4-7 start. This week at home was just what the doctored ordered. You don’t often get weeks like this. The Thunder were home for 7 full days. From Friday through Thursday they were in OKC, playing three games; all being games they should have won– two of them against teams EVERYONE should beat. It was a good time for a breather and a good time to get some extra practice, extra rest, and low stress minutes. I’m not going ga-ga over the fact that they went 3-0 this week and by no means do I think everything is fixed or that they’ve worked out all the kinks. But things did look better. PG13 was quiet tonight, but flashed big time in the first two wins. And you can’t discount that they didn’t have Adams for any of the three games and still did just fine. Hopefully this calmed everyone down and allows them to focus on getting better. Aside from a few breakdowns (mostly by Russ) late in the Clippers game, their defense was fine. Offensively it was more up and down, but more guys were involved and there were more signs of movement. Most importantly, they were MUCH more patient on that end of the floor and much more aggressive.

5. Now they need to translate whatever strides they’ve made against much stiffer competition. Looks like Kawhi will still be out for the Spurs on Friday night, but as always, Pop and friends are doing their thing anyway. They lost in Minnesota tonight but otherwise they’ve been very good thus far. Aldridge is off to a hot start and Rudy Gay is playing very well. They just always do their thing and seemingly never miss a beat. It is always very difficult to win in their building and Friday night will be no exception. I think it is an important game for the Thunder. Silly to call anything a “must win” at this stage of the season (it isn’t), but it would be disappointing to win these three games and then immediately lose once the competition stiffens. They then play Monday at New Orleans before their home date with the Dubs the night before Thanksgiving. They need to win at least one of these next two on the road. It would obviously be preferable to get both and enter that game against Golden State with some real momentum.

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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Five Thoughts 11-10-17 (Thunder 120, Clippers 111)

1. We will talk a bit more here in a minute about how it got there, but let’s fast forward tonight to the 5:37 mark of the 4th quarter when the Clippers tied the game 105-105. Without question, what happened from that point was the most important/interesting aspect of this game and perhaps the season thus far. Think back to last year– what would have happened in a tie game late? We all know it was Russell time. Like 100%. All on him to win it or lose it. It was thrilling last year. Sometimes sensational. And also completely unsustainable. Over the final stretch the Thunder outscored the Clips 15-6 to pull away for the win. Here is how they accumulated those 15 points:

–Dakari Johnson two free throws
–Melo layup (assist PG)
–PG midrange jumper (assist RW)
–PG two free throws
–Andre put back off rebound
–Dakari midrange jumper (assist RW)
–Grant dunk (assist RW)
–RW one free throw

So, 15 points only 1 of which is scored by RW. All of the other 14 points coming from 18 feet or closer. Those 15 spread out through 6 different players. On the other end, the defense was good. Excellent close out and composure from the Thunder tonight. Total contrast to their previous losses.

2. Russell must, must, must focus and stop gambling on D late in games. The Clippers came back in a hurry to tie the game behind a barrage where they scored on five consecutive possessions, four of which were three’s. That equaled 14 points in a flash. On at least three of those possessions you can attribute the open look to Russ being wildly out of position. On two of them, he went for a steal, missed, and allowed a wide open look. On the other he failed to get through a screen and gave Rivers a three (that tied the game). He hunkered down after that, but those types of gambles and breakdowns are crushing otherwise good defensive efforts. If we are down by 7 with a few minutes to go, it makes sense to roll the dice and try to make a play. When you are up 7 it’s just a poor decision.

3. Steven Adams’ calf can kiss my arse. I swear one of my thoughts tonight (before I even heard he was out) was going to be a suggestion that Donovan mix in either Dakari or Collison into the rotation. Of course now it looks like I’m just taking credit after the fact, but sometimes circumstance opens the door for you. So far this year the Thunder small bench lineups have not been effective. Patterson has been ineffective and the Thunder bench has been badly out-rebounded and beat up. Tonight, the Adams injury opened the door for Dakari. And it yielded an interesting development. Dakari is not a stretch four or a center that will play beyond the paint. He is much more of a traditional big, which of course contrasts a bit with the way the league is heading. However, if you are GOOD at what you do, then you also pose the threat to force the other team to adjust to YOU. Dakari really held his own against Jordan and Blake. He battled. He only pulled down one rebound, which won’t cut it, but he was active. Most importantly, he flashed some legitimate skill. Stepping up an hitting a jumper to essentially close out the game is not something Adams does. Dakari brings a little something to the table and I hope his first real showing tonight earns him some more looks in the rotation.

4. PG13 was out of sight. That was a very, very tidy stat line of 42/9/7. He managed it on only 22 shots and he only turned it over 3 times. He was aggressive from the outset. Aggressive, yet controlled I should say. He put the ball on the floor and went hard to the basket. When they gave him space, he hurt them with the midrange pull up. And he also did some catch and shoot where he had Russ set him up for open looks. It wasn’t just that he put up big numbers, he was so IMPACTFUL in all areas on both ends. This is the two-way threat we’ve been waiting for.

5. They certainly needed that. It wasn’t perfect by any means. Once again they squandered a big lead. Still had some lapses and despite a pretty nice box score, I didn’t think Russ was great. Certainly better than he was on the road trip, but after a really good start he cooled a bit and I thought his decisions were up and down. His aforementioned defense was atrocious. He did close the game strong showing great trust in his teammates. This win is not a cure-all, but it does allow a collective sigh of relief. Sort of like, “oh ok, we don’t actually suck.” Hopefully it is a first step in becoming what they want to become. The schedule works in their favor now. They play arguably the worst team in each conference the next two games. I wouldn’t spend much time arguing if I were you because Dallas and Chicago are both really bad. I think Chicago has already earned another really. Like really, really bad. Thunder could probably play their “C-” minus game and beat both of them by double digits. So it’s an opportunity for the Thunder to get in some high-level practice before the schedule turns next Friday at San Antonio. Zero excuse to lose either of the next two. I don’t care if they are particularly pretty, but it would be nice to get the guys some extra rest and some low-stress minutes. Perhaps work in the bench a little deeper. Most importantly, try and build on some of the good things they accomplished tonight.

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 blo

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