The past week has been an intense one for the Thunder. Four games in five nights hosted in three different time zones. Oklahoma City split the result: two wins (Nuggets and Pistons) and two losses (Lakers and Kings). The team record stands now at 10-8.
The first game of the week in Los Angeles vs. the Lakers was that kind of game which drives Thunder fans crazy. Los Angeles came into the game without one of their best players, D’Angelo Russell, but that did not make much of a difference. Instead of taking advantage of it, the team played an effortless defense and not much of team basketball. The Lakers took control of the game and had a double-digit lead going into the last six minutes of the game. Russell Westbrook then decided to take the team on his shoulders and the Thunder found themselves back in the game. A layup by Steven Adams gave them a 1 point lead but, with 5 seconds remaining, Nick Young hit a controversial (huge travel) three-pointer to close the game.
The night after, in Sacramento, the Thunder played an “OK” first part of the game before falling apart in the second half. The Kings came out from the long break and scored 36 points in the 3rd quarter. They exposed all the issues Oklahoma City has on the defensive end of the floor. The game was basically over. The Thunder weren’t able to come back this time and collected the seventh loss of the last nine games.
After Thanksgiving break on Thursday, Oklahoma City closed the road trip on Friday night in Denver. As the Lakers, also the Nuggets came into this game without some important player (Gallinari and Barton). However, the Thunder’s style of playing did not change. They went down double digits just to come back and take a 3 points advantage with 9 seconds left. On the next possession, Adams fouled Murray on a three-pointer attempt. The rookie scored all the FT and the game went into overtime. This time, the Thunder took care of business and came out with the win. It was a pretty ugly one but they needed it badly.
Finally, last night, Oklahoma City played the type of basketball that we enjoyed so much to see in the beginning of this season. Strong defense, both on the perimeter and in the paint, everyone involved on offense and most of everything: effort and energy. The Thunder led for the whole game, double digit for most of the time. The Pistons were able to cut the lead to four points a couple of times in the second half but that was it. Russell Westbrook notched his seventh triple-double of the season and Morrow added 21 points.
A FEW THOUGHTS:
The Thunder need to build their season on the defense. Even though it’s hard to be 100% focused on it when your shots aren’t falling, getting stops is the only way to stay in the game. As it is built right now, this team hasn’t the firepower to outscore other teams anymore.
After ten straight games, the Thunder were able to hold a team (Detroit) under 100 points. In the previous ten games, Oklahoma City went 3-7.
Russell Westbrook’s average of the last four games: 29.5 points, 13.8 assists, 11.0 rebounds.
Victor Oladipo is shooting a career high 41.8% from the 3 points line. For a team that desperately needs three point shooters, this is pretty good.
Anthony Morrow is starting to get minutes and it’s paying out well. Last night vs Detroit he scored 21 points. It wasn’t only offense, though. He tried hard also on the defensive end. When he plays like that, it is easier for Donovan to give him minutes.
Vs Detroit it was the first time the Thunder played a team on the second night of back to back. Obviously, also Oklahoma City was on the second night of back to back.
The Thunder will play in New York vs the Knicks on Monday and at home vs the Wizards on Wednesday. Oklahoma City will have then a much-needed rest of three days before meeting the Pelicans at home on next Sunday.