Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost against the Houston Rockets, 109-113 the final score.
After losing against the Wolves by only two points, the Thunder lost against the Rockets by four points. Oklahoma City is 2-4 this month in games decided by four points or less. Not a very good record, and even if it’s still only December, every game it’s a must win in a so tight Western Conference.
- Westbrook still hesitant
Russell Westbrook is not having a great shooting season, and that’s pretty obvious. Also last night, he looked too much hesitant with his shooting decision making. Many times Westbrook received the ball in a catch and shoot position, but he hesitated too long, dribbled the ball, and passed up a good shot to take a bad one. I have the feeling he is also passing the ball in situations where he shouldn’t, for example when he is attacking the rim and clearly there are no good passes available.
- Donovan’s rotations
Billy Donovan likes to experiment with his rotation, but so far during this season, he has been pretty constant if there were no particularly injuries to affect it. Last night, he chose Nader in the second half instead of Patterson, it didn’t pay off at all. Nader was bad on every aspect of the game. Also, I think Adams minutes were not well distributed.
- Rebounds battle
The Rockets out-rebounded the Thunder by only two rebounds (54-52), but Oklahoma City grabbed more offensive rebounds than Houston (18-17). However, the Rockets were able to score twenty-three points out of these seventeen rebounds while the Thunder scored only nine points. This is where the game was lost. Billy Donovan said after the game that boxing out is a team job, and he’s absolutely right. The team indeed did a poor job on this aspect.
- Shooters missing
The Thunder need more players who can shoot from behind the arc. Last night, the Rockets didn’t guard anyone, but Paul George, outside the three-point line. This makes it hard to create any type of interior offense, and with Oklahoma City’s roster, as it is, this is a big issue. The defense can do so much to keep you in games, but you need to take advantage of your defense, and if you are unable to score, then you have a problem. Surely Sam Presti is aware of this, and he is already probably looking into some possible upgrades.
Once again the bench didn’t perform well overall. Sure, Dennis Schröder was OK, nothing special, and Diallo did some nice things on the court, but that’s obviously not enough. Abrines had to sit out due to illness, Patterson didn’t play in the second half because of “matchups”, Noel has been killed on the boards, and there is not much to expect from Nader who’s been sitting most of the year on the bench.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be once again on the road, this time on Friday night in Phoenix against the Suns. Tip-off 8 pm CT.
Photos by Jeff Haynes and Bill Babtist