5 Thoughts: Thunder stung by Charlotte (4-2-17)

Another bad loss for the Thunder. Oklahoma City has to figure out things before they get stung like they did by the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon. Oklahoma City has to figure out things before the playoffs get started.


Oklahoma City shot better from three-point range than Charlotte. The Thunder out rebounded the Hornets 42-37. Oklahoma City established itself in the paint all game long, outscoring Charlotte down low 52-38. So how did they lose, you ask? Turnovers. Oklahoma City was extremely sloppy with the ball all game, finishing the afternoon with 24 turnovers, 10 more than their season average. Those 24 turnovers resulted in 35 points for the Hornets, helping catapult them towards the victory.


Heading into halftime, Oklahoma City had momentum on their side as they finished the first half on a 10-2 scoring run to bring themselves within five points of Charlotte at 59-54. The Thunder didn’t quite make it out of the locker room to begin the second half, however, and Charlotte pounced with a 13-0 scoring run to begin the second half, stretching their lead to 18. From this point forward, Oklahoma City never cut the deficit below double digits. The Thunder only scored 16 points in the entire third quarter, with 13 of those points coming from Russell Westbrook.


Oklahoma City’s defensive effort as a whole Sunday afternoon was less than stellar. However, the perimeter defense stuck out like a sore thumb. Kemba Walker finished with 29 points, going 6-of-12 from three-point range. Michael Kidd-Gilchrest added 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, and Jeremy Lamb was very efficient off the bench adding 13 points on a 5-of-7 clip from the field. Charlotte’s perimeter players penetrated Oklahoma City’s interior defense for much of the day, getting to the rim whenever they wanted. At the heart of these struggles was Russell Westbrook, who looked very disinterested on the defensive side of the ball at times.


Charlotte’s bench had a great output Friday night against Denver, scoring 50 points on 17-of-30 shooting. The unit as a whole was a +20. On Sunday afternoon, they continued this type of play scoring 44 points on 15-of-28 from the field. In comparison, Oklahoma City’s bench scored 24 points on on 10-24 shooting. Anytime Westbrook left the court Sunday afternoon, Oklahoma City struggled to score. On the flip side, Charlotte was given solid performances by the likes of Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky, who combined for 31 points.


With another incredible statistical output Sunday, Russell Westbrook is now only one triple-double away from tying Oscar Robertson’s single-season record for triple-doubles at 41. It was the MVP-caliber point guard’s sixth triple-double in a row. Westbrook finished the afternoon with 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. In order to break the Big O’s record, Westbrook will only need to notch two triple-doubles over the Thunder’s final six games. Considering he’s got 10 triple-doubles in Oklahoma City’s last 12 games, it’s appearing that Westbrook is well on his way to rewriting the record books.

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