Two games into the regular season and the Oklahoma City Thunder stay winless. After losing in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, last night the Thunder lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, 108-92.
Oklahoma City couldn’t start the game any worse than it did. The Clippers opened the match with a 16-0 run. However, little by little, the Thunder were able to get back into the game. Defensive stop after defensive stop, basket after basket, the lead was cut to seven points after the first quarter, and to two points at the half.
At the start of the third quarter, the Thunder were able to take control of the game. Paul George started to hit shots, the defense looked engaged, while the offense was effective. When the game seemed to take a positive turn for the Thunder, the fourth quarter started. First, the Clippers took the lead back at 88-87 with a bit more than seven minutes left to play, then the score was tied 90-90 with six minutes and fifty-one seconds left, then the Thunder scored only to points to end the game.
There is not much to do when your team is missing shots after shots, and it’s unable to get any stops defensively. The Clippers ended the quarter with an 18-2 run and deserved their first win of the season.
1.) Paul Geroge & Dennis Schröder
It’s hard to win games when two of your three best players on the court shot for a combined 9-42 from the floor and 3-14 from behind the arc. Both Paul and Dennis had a terrible shooting night, they missed easy shots, they missed contested shots, and they took some questionable shots. When in their hands, the ball didn’t move much, this is mostly Paul George’s case. With Westbrook returns getting closer and closer, both Schröder and George should start to get better, so it should this Thunder team.
2.) Patrick Patterson or Jerami Grant
This has been a debate since Grant signed as a free agent with the Thunder this summer. Who should start? Patterson is supposed to spread the floor better on offense while holding is ground on defense. Grant instead is more of a defensive force while his offense is still developing. If the first two games gave us any information, then the decision is pending more on Grant than on Patterson. Jerami played already more minutes and displayed a better overall game than Patterson. Obviously, it has been only two games, Patterson has a lot of time to play better, but thus far, Grant seems the better one.
Consistency has been a problem on both ends of the floor during this game. It can be summed up easily:
- Horrible start
- Great comeback
- Control of the game
- Complete meltdown
If the Thunder played forty-eight minutes, or well, even forty minutes probably, the same way as they did in the central part of the game, then they would have easily won last night. Instead, there were too many ups and downs, with the downs being way bigger than the ups. This is something that Billy Donovan has to work to fix as soon as possible.
4.) Steven Adams
Despite the pain in the back which Adams experienced in the past week, the big Kiwi has been probably the only positive note coming out of the starting five. Adams finished the game with seventeen points, eighteen rebounds (six on offense), and one steal. Once again he shot the ball well (7-11 FG) and did the so-called “dirty work” on both ends of the floor.
5.) The Bench’s Spark
Something really positive from last night: thirty-eight points from the second unit, another encouraging performance from Noel and Abrines, and a sense of stability when the starters sit. Yes, a sense of stability, because as Thunder fans know too well, the bench unit has been a problem for a few years now. and to have players that can fill in the starters’ role without it’s a good feeling. Once Westbrook will return in the starting lineup, Schröder will join the second unit and it will only get better from there.
The Thunder will play at home, on Sunday night, against the Sacramento Kings.
Cover photos by Andrew D. Bernstein via Getty Images