We’ve all seen this game before. Close throughout, but your team just never can get over the edge. They’ll reach up and touch it, but they just can’t quite climb the hump. Oklahoma City cut Portland’s lead to three, to two, even tied it once at 84-84 on an gorgeous lob from Russell Westbrook to Serge Ibaka. But immediately after, the Blazer scored four straight. It was just one of those games, and even though we’ve seen this story before, it’s still pretty frustrating.
Even with the Thunder down three, with possession and 12.8 seconds left, it just didn’t feel good. Kevin Durant got a decent look, but it went begging short, Andre Miller knocked down two clinching free throws and that was that. It’s not necessarily upsetting or even frustrating, but more just your typical loss. Make one more play, grab one more rebound, hit one more shot and maybe things are different. But as so often happens, that big play didn’t come and as a result, OKC came up five points short.
The Thunder just went dead in the fourth quarter. They scored only 16 points and could not execute offensively. Kevin Durant absolutely owned the third quarter, grabbing nine rebounds and scoring 11 points. He drove and dunked, hits 3s and just had The Look. The fourth? He had three points on 0-3 shooting and even missed a freebie. It just didn’t happen for KD tonight. I don’t think it was anything about him not getting the ball or whatever. A few shots didn’t fall, the Thunder was completely flat offensively in the fourth and Durant couldn’t shoulder the load. Plus it didn’t help that Russell Westbrook basically disappeared, didn’t score and on two occasions basically handed the ball to Portland. I’m telling myself to keep saying “Oh well.” Makes this one feel a little less sting-y.
It wasn’t a choke or anything like that, it just felt like a game the Thunder lost in the last six minutes due to poor execution. Like I said, they needed one more stop, one more three or just one more PLAY. Just something. For instance: the lose ball late in the fourth that bounced around before ending up as a jump ball. OKC couldn’t grab it, they jumped the ball and of course Portland got possession. The Blazers were a step quicker and just made the plays the Thunder didn’t. It really just seemed like a simple loss to me. Of course you’d like to see your stars perform better in crunch time, but it just sometimes doesn’t work out that way.
- Here’s a wild stat: OKC hasn’t won a game when trailing going into the fourth.
- How about this one while we’re at it: Portland is now 14-1 when scoring 30 or more points in the first quarter. Tonight? They scored 30.
- Andre Miller just killed OKC tonight. He had 26 points and he hit a couple late shot clock jumpers that were backbreakers.
- Another backbreaker: OKC cut it to one right at the end of the third and was building a big ball of momentum for the fourth, but of course Brandon Roy hit a fading 3-pointer that he banked in. Face palm.
- Andre Miller had a case of the Deron Williams combforward going tonight.
- The Thunder bench didn’t provide much pop tonight: 23 points and only three from James Harden.
- Jeff Green who has been Mr. Big Shot for OKC all year, missed three good looks from 3 for the Thunder that would’ve been HUGE, even if he just one. That kind of night.
- One big positive: How good was Thabo on Brandon Roy? He held Roy to 20 points on 8-22 shooting and just locked down in a couple late shot clock situations.
- The Thunder typically doesn’t lose when they outrebound their opponent, but OKC won the boards 41-34.
- OKC hot just 3-15 from 3 and Portland took 11 more shots. Not good things.
- I watched this one with my father-in-law and he couldn’t have been more spot on with his prediction late in the third quarter. He said simply, “First one to 90 wins it.” Portland got there first and OKC never did.
- KD took a hard fall late in the game and stung his shoulder pretty good. I assumed he’s OK but he did miss a free throw immediately following. So something wasn’t totally right.
- This game was definitely played at the Blazers pace. It clocked in at a slow 86.0.
Let’s be real here: This was a tough week. It was a four-game homestand and of course you’d like to take full advantage of it. But playing the Spurs, the Rockets, the Lakers and the Blazers in six days isn’t an easy task. And to go 2-2 with both losses decided in the final two minutes isn’t bad. Of course now, OKC is tied with Portland for eighth in the West. It’s not ideal but there are still game to be played. And like I said, even though the week didn’t go perfectly, two blowout wins coupled with two tight losses isn’t the end of the world.
Next up: A big game in Philly Tuesday night.