The now (12-14) Thunder came into this game against the now (10-16) Charlotte Hornets with a chance to finally get back to a .500 record on the season. However, Melo’s early exit was a clear representation of how bad the Thunder played.
This team displayed, once again, a clear lack of emotion, motivation, and consistency. Billy Donovan’s in-game substitutions are extremely questionable in crucial stretches during the game and it’s fair to deem it repetitive after 26 games.
A year ago, when the Thunder had far less talent, a monstrous dunk by Russell Westbrook would’ve ignited the team into a fourth-quarter comeback. However, against the lowly Hornets, Westbrook’s big slam resulted in a 22-2 run for the away team en route to a 40-22 outscoring of the Thunder in the second quarter.
From that point on, OKC’s entire attitude changed. There was less talking on the court, more tension, which resulted in frustration.
Westbrook had six assists at the half but finished the game with only seven. Paul George scored 15 points in the first half but concluded tonight’s game with 20. Charlotte made a halftime adjustment and Paul George didn’t get as many looks, (definitely not as many good looks) as he did in the first half and that’s when Russell resorted back to last season’s trend having to carry the team through a comeback, in order to get a win.
Between George and Carmelo were nine shots attempts in the second half, while Russell got 12 attempts up. Although selfish isn’t the word for Westbrook, he needs to trust consider trusting his teammates more. Especially two talents like Anthony and George.
Then, to make things just as bad and maybe worse, Billy Donovan featured a lineup of Raymond Felton, Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant, Josh Huestis, and Patrick Patterson late in the third quarter, into the fourth quarter without a member of the big three out there playing with them.
When the Thunder are down double figures in the latter stages of a game, one would think Donovan may stick with what he knows will work. And although the Thunder haven’t really found that yet either, they know that one of the big three need to be out there, because the bench is rather lackluster.
Carmelo leaving the locker room early could mean absolutely nothing, but it could mean something as well. But, being frustrated with this team is understandable for multiple reasons. Not just for what was listed in this story. There are tons of questions and overall frustration surrounding this team right now and it all increases after unacceptable losses.
The Thunder will hit the road against the (16-11) Indiana Pacers on Wednesday in George’s first return to his former home.