Another battle, another fight, another close game, another loss for the Oklahoma City Thunder. This time at home against the Portland Trailblazers, 99-102 the final score.
The Thunder fought hard also last night: despite trailing early in the game, and late when Lillard caught fire, they always came back, never fold, and had chances to win the game.
Oklahoma City is now 1-4 after five games into the season, but there are more positives takeaways than negatives.
Here are the five facts about last night’s loss against Portland:
I think we can all agree that Hamidou Diallo is one of the most pleasant surprises of the season so far. The second-year player had another impressive game last night. He finished with twelve points, ten rebounds, one assist, and two steals. There was this moment, in the second half, on offense, when he missed a shot and outrebounded everyone for three consecutive times to get the ball into the basket. Last night, Diallo was aggressive while attacking fearlessly the rim, and tried his best on the defensive end. This is what coaches love to see from a young player. After five games Diallo is averaging 9.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal.
With Adams out with a knee contusion, Noel started at the center and delivered a solid performance. Nerleans finished the game with a double-double (the first one since February): fifteen points (6-7 FG, 3-4 FT), fourteen rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block, and three turnovers. Until Adams is ready to come back, or simply has a bad game, Noel can step in and always deliver strong results on both ends of the floor.
BAD SHOOTING NIGHT
If we have to look at a very negative aspect of last night’s game, then it’s for sure the shooting performance. The Thunder shot 39.8% from the floor and a miserable 14.8% from behind the arc, 4-27. Danilo Gallinari finished with 3-9 from the three points line, the rest of the team shot 1-18. Hard to win games when you have one of these bad nights. However, OKC was pretty ok from the free-throw line: 29-37, 78.4%.
This team is made by fighters. They never give up, they fight on every possession on both ends of the floor: it doesn’t matter if it’s a loose ball or trying to get an offensive rebound or fight over a screen, they just fight for it. Once again the result wasn’t a positive one, but this is the type of attitude you want to see your team playing if you are a fan, especially a fan of a rebuilding team. The Thunder are now 27th in offensive rating at 98.8 which is very bad, but they are 5th overall in defensive rating at 97.5, which instead is very good.
PROGRESS AND GROW
It will take time, it will take losses like last night’s one before this team is good again, but nobody can’t complain about the effort and the little signs of progress that are shown night after night. The Thunder have now lost by five points against the Jazz, four against the Rockets, and three against the Blazers. All playoffs and title-contender teams with bigger goals obviously than OKC. With a bit more of luck and experience probably the record would look different right now, but if the Thunder keep playing this way, the wins will come, sooner rather than later.