The Thunder have now lost 3 in a row and 4 out of their last 5. Their lone victory came from a heroic double overtime performance by Paul George against the Jazz last Friday night. In a contest without George, the Thunder had a committee of guys step up to take shots, but could not cash in multiple opportunities when given. After being down as much as 16 to the Sixers, the Thunder once again clawed their way back into the contest and eventually tied the game in the 4th. Untimely 3s for and lack of rebounding for OKC ultimately led to a 108-104 victory for Philadelphia.
Effort and energy cannot be overstated, but discipline on defense is a must at all times, especially at the highest level of basketball. The Thunder were down 37-26 at the end of the first and 60-49 at half. Since the start of the new year, teams are recognizing the gaps in the Thunder defense and exploiting them until the Thunder make adjustments (which is beginning to be too late).
Credit to Tobias Harris who cooked his smaller defenders and lighting up the Thunder for 32 points on 11/19 shooting. He has become a formidable piece for any team, including a contender team like Philadelphia. Ben Simmons dropped an 11 point, 11 assist and 13 rebound triple double on 5/9 shooting. He also had a timely offensive rebound when up 106-104 after a Jimmy Butler missed jumper with 4 seconds left.
It is things like that which drives Thunder fans crazy. Little things such as boxing out, free throws, help side defense, and communicating on the pick n’ roll are HUGE things! The Thunder must clean up these mistakes and make adjustments sooner as the schedule continues to strengthen against them.
Now, this is not the time to panic and here’s why: take the NBA season in 6 or 7 game stretches. The Thunder lost the first 4 of the season but won the next 7. They lost 5 out of 6 games in January, but then won 14 out of 15 up til the all star break. Relax OKC, you”re in great hands. When you do not have your MVP leading candidate, Paul George, things are not going to be the same. Guys like Jerami Grant stepped up with 23 points and 6 boards on 10/17 shooting. This team competes with grit and grind every possession, they just have some things to improve like everyone else. RELAX.
New addition Markieff Morris contributed 17 points in 19 minutes of action.
The Thunder were 20-28 from the foul line and 8-27 from deep. The hot stretch of long range shooting appears to have cooled down as of late. It will be interesting to see what adjustments in shot selection and rotation Coach Billy Donovan elects to go with, should he feel any change is necessary in that regard.
Next contest is another thriller Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs. Keep an eye out for Westbrook and Markieff Morris to set this game on fire.