We could copy and paste every recap of the post All-Star Game break and it would fit in every game the Thunder have won so far. Ugly wins against tanking teams. The bright side of the situation is that Oklahoma City is actually winning, which is what matters the most, but on the other side, they are playing some terrible brand of basketball.
Yesterday, in Phoenix, the defense was the main issue for three quarters: Oklahoma City allowed the Suns to score thirty or more points in each of the first three periods. This is not good. However, the Thunder were able to put some effort defensively in the last twelve minutes, and they forced the Suns to score only seventeen points.
On offense, there have been some ups and downs, but for most of the time, it wasn’t bad. In fact, led by an outstanding Westbrook’s performance, Oklahoma City shot almost fifty percent from the floor, it had some nice ball movement, and they scored a total of 124 points.
Russell Westbrook had his best game in a long time. He was fearless while attacking the rim (like most of the times) but he was also super efficient. He finished the game with 43 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 5 turnovers. The best part of it is that he shot 16-25 from the floor, 2-4 from behind the arc, and 9-11 from the free throw line. When Westbrook put together this type of numbers, it’s almost sure that the Thunder are going to win.
I liked the way the bench played. They brought some toughness and energy into the game. The ball moved well, and defensively they did a good job. The second unit scored 33 points in total: this is a nice trend since the break. Now, with the addition of Corey Brewer, they might become even deeper and more productive.
Paul George wasn’t efficient but he was able to contribute in different ways. Geroge finished with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 3 turnovers. From time to time he looked disengaged defensively, but with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he showed how good he can be. Side note on Paul George: the refs don’t like him. Yesterday, there have been a couple of obvious missed call, however, George didn’t complain too much.
The coaching staff has to do something to get Carmelo Anthony going on offense. The way he is playing right now is, not only painful to watch, but it’s also damaging the team (on both ends of the floor).
I have no idea why the Thunder are struggling so much against bad teams. I don’t know if it’s just the approach that’s completely wrong or if they are just plain bad. In the next two games, we might be able to have more answers because Oklahoma City will face one very good team tonight (Portland) and a great team on Tuesday (Houston). If the Thunder will play the way they did last night, then they might get blown out both times. Oklahoma City needs a solid performance and a solid win. Both are missing for a long time now.
- FG% 47.9, 3P% 32.4, FT% 72.4, ASSISTS 22, REBOUNDS 48, STEALS 5, TURNOVERS 11
- FG% 47.9, 3P% 44.0, FT% 72.2, ASSISTS 26, REBOUNDS 44, STEALS 5, TURNOVERS 15
The Thunder will end their road trip in Portland tonight against the Blazers. Tip-off 9 p.m. CT.
Photos by Zack Beeker