Sloppy Defense & Turnovers, Thunder fall in Chicago: Five Thoughts

Qdoba LongLast night, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost for the first time this season against a team with a record below .500: 112-114 the final score against the Chicago Bulls.

Oklahoma City’s defense has been the best of the league for a while now, but as it happened in Brooklyn, also in Chicago the Thunder committed too many mistakes. Mistakes which this time turned out to be costly for the final outcome.

The Thunder gave up seventy points in the first half, the most the Bulls (5-20 entering last night’s game) did score in a half this season. Thunder’s players were late on switches, not contesting threes, and turning the ball over too much.

However, the Thunder are also one of the top teams in third quarters and yesterday was no different. Oklahoma City started to defend, took care of the offense and won the quarter by twelve points.

When everything seemed to turn out in Thunder’s favor, the Bulls started to play better on defense and forced Oklahoma City into difficult shots. The final of the game has been electric: first Schröder drove to the basket and brought OKC up by one, then Holiday scored a three to put the Bulls up by two. After Donovan’s timeout, Westbrook drove to the basket to tie the game 112-112. On the other end, Markkanen was able to get rid of Paul George and finish a tough shot, 114-112. Paul George then took an open three as a last shot of the game, it bounced out: game, set, match Bulls.

Five Thoughts

  • Westbrook, full experience 

Russell Westbrook recorded another triple-double last night. He finished the night with twenty-four points (9-21 FG, 2-6 3PT, 4-7 FT), thirteen assists, seventeen rebounds, four steals, and ten turnovers. It was a full Westbrook’s experience game, a mix of awesome and head-scratching decisions on both ends of the floor. I thought he tried to pass the ball too much, I know that might sound crazy to a few people, but most of his turnovers came because he tried to set up his teammates, most of the time, they weren’t ready.

  • Steven Adams

Adams scored fourteen points in the first quarter alone, the Bulls didn’t have an answer for him, and the Thunder kept looking for him. However, he finished the game with “only” twentyone. Overall he played a good game, but he hasn’t been really efficient in the paint and shot only 9-17 from the floor. This being said, Steven grabbed a total of nine offensive rebounds, that’s really insane. One aspect of Adams’ game that really needs to improve is the shooting from the free-throw line: last night he shot below 50%, 3-7.

THunder bulls 2

  • Defense, not good

So far this season, the Thunder have been the best defensive team in the league. But as it happened already against the Nets on Wednesday, also yesterday against the Bulls, Oklahoma City didn’t play proper defense for most of the contest. They just did it in stretches during the game, especially in the third quarter, but in the NBA this might be not enough. The Bulls shot 52.4% from the floor and 48% from behind the arc.

  • Turnovers

Westbrook finished with ten turnovers, Adams four, George three, the team in total twenty-two. This is too high of a number if you want to win games. Most of the turnovers came because of complicated passes, plays out of control, or Bulls’ defense. With a tough stretch of games coming up, Oklahoma City will have to take care better of the ball in order to win games.

  • Bench help needed

Once again, besides Dennis Schröder (who has been once again fantastic from the bench) and the usual defensive production from Noel, the Thunder don’t have enough contribution from their second unit. Diallo did good, but he is a rookie and the team can’t expect great contribution each game from him, Abrines scored only three points in fifteen minutes while shooting 1-4 from behind the arc, and Patrick Patterson added zero points in eleven points. It would be interesting to see if Donovan will mix things up by giving TLC, Nader or even Burton some extra minutes.

Up Next:

The Thunder will play on Monday night, back at home, against the Utah Jazz. Tip-off 7 pm CT.

Photos by Getty Images

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