At this stage in the season, meaning three games left, I could see how it might be easy to lose a little focus when playing a team 30 under .500. Especially when you jump out to a 20-point lead early in the first half and drop 42 first quarter points. I could see how maybe you coast a bit, letting the other team go on a 16-5 run and get back in the game. Heck, I could even see the game tightening in the third going into the fourth. It’s the NBA. It happens all the time.
But losing this game? That’s just ridiculous.
Now, the panic/overreaction button is a long way away from me. It’s one bad loss and the Thunder hasn’t had one of these in three weeks. The season is nearing it’s end and I’m sure it’s a little easy for a young team to start looking ahead to the postseason. I get that. But there’s just no excuse for it and with the loss, the Thunder essentially sealed their fate for the eight-seed in a showdown tomorrow with Portland.
It doesn’t take Dr. Jack Ramsey to figure out this was a defensive issue for Oklahoma City tonight. One thing you DO NOT want to do against Golden State is let them dictate the flow of the game. And the Thunder absolutely fell into that trap tonight. The pace of the game was a ridiculous 101 tonight with OKC taking 104 shots. And it was just a case of missing them for the Thunder. They were dropping in the first half, but not so much in the second. Without the Thunder’s outstanding work on the offensive glass tonight (22 offensive boards), OKC wouldn’t have been in this game at all in the fourth quarter. The Thunder turned into a jumpshooting team and when the shots aren’t falling yet you still keep chucking, you’re not set up for good offense.
And on the reverse, Golden State couldn’t miss in the second half. Now A LOT of the awesome Warrior shooting had to do with matador defense by the Thunder. That is absolutely for sure. But even if players are wide open, standing alone for 3, shooting the way Golden State did tonight from deep is pretty rare. I mean, hitting 3s on six consecutive possessions? That’s insane. The Warriors went 12-21 from 3 and won a game in which they took 17 fewer shots. Why? Because they made a lot of theirs (51 percent from the floor).
Here’s kind of the game summed up: Kevin Durant was awesome in the first half, scoring 26 points. He went 8-10 from the floor and was hitting everything in rhythm. In the third quarter, when things really unraveled for OKC, he went 4-15. That NEVER happens. And they were good looks too. Monta Ellis switched over to him so OKC got the ball to Durant in the post. It was the right play. KD just didn’t finish.
- Like I said, a team shooting from deep as well as GSW is a two-part thing. Part bad defense, part stellar shooting. But if I wanted to pull out the blame stick, I’m pointing it at Russell Westbrook. He allowed far too much penetration, which forced his teammates to rotate and it left a man open on the perimeter. And if he wasn’t doing that, he was gambling and overplaying passing lanes, again forcing his guys to help and recover. It didn’t help things that the Thunder’s rotations were painfully slow and in some situations, lazy.
- I would like to kick Ronny Turiaf in the face. That’s all.
- Thabo rocked a headband tonight. I don’t think it was really that becoming of him. Plus, he went 2-6 from the floor for five points with it. I’d say ditch it.
- James Harden was a bright spot. He found his game a bit, getting to the rim (and finishing) and hitting 3s. Eighteen points on 7-11 shooting.
- Jeff Green has been so money in big situations all year, but missed out in a crucial place tonight. After getting poked in the eye, he double-missed a pair of free throws that could put OKC up two. That’s not like Uncle Jeff.
- As good as Jeff Green finishes and as physical as he is at bullying his way in the paint, I just don’t get why he takes nine jumpshots tonight. That doesn’t make sense to me.
- One more thing on Green: He is such an awesome out-of-bounds-saver. He seems to always find the right guy and sometimes tosses it back in from what looks like the fifth row. I just wanted to mention that.
- KD went for 40 and 10, but boy, it sure didn’t feel that great, did it?
- Serge Ibaka has just been great lately. Another nice game with eight points and 12 rebounds, plus two blocks.
- Steph Curry is just gifted. Every time he shoots, it feels like it’s going down. And he really makes some wonderful passes. He’s going to be terrific.
- OKC allowed 64 points… in the SECOND HALF. That has to be a season high. That just does not happen much. Very surprising, especially after the lockdown on Phoenix. Doesn’t leave you feeling good with the playoffs coming in less than two weeks.
Regardless of the fact that this is a bad, bad loss, it’s only that in the sense it hurts OKC with playoff seeding. Every team loses games like this when they shouldn’t. It’s life. Now of course that doesn’t make me want to headbutt concrete any less, but its true. The Thunder just went sour. This was the type of game where you just expected OKC to turn it on. You were waiting for the lockdown. We’ve seen the Thunder coast before against bad teams and get away with it. And I’ve said before that would surely come back to get them at least once. Well, here’s that once.
Next up: At Portland in a biggun tomorrow.