The Thunder had two days off to get things straightened out after the poor showing at home against Utah on Halloween. They had two days to get some shots up, figure out what was going on defensively and hopefully iron out the issues offensively. They had two days to think about how poorly they played against the Jazz and use that motivation to come out fired up and ready to wallop the Clippers.
Except that didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite, pretty much unthinkable thing happened.
The Clippers whooped the Thunder 107-92.
I’ve been scratching my head for about 15 minutes trying to figure out what the problem is. I’m not an over-reactionary person and I don’t live and die with each game. In my mind, it’s way too early to really be genuinely upset about anything. I mean, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. A three-game winning streak and everyone will shut up.
But something’s up. Something not good.
It’s not something that’s uncorrectable or that can’t be sorted out, but the Thunder has got to go to work. We told ourselves during the preseason that some of the problems we were seeing would get fixed and they were just rust. We told ourselves during the first two wins that some of the negatives would be turned to positives soon enough. And even after the Jazz debacle, we knew that those type of things happen from time to time. But getting worked by an 0-4 Clipper squad that has the worst offense in the league? Not good. Not good at all.
For tonight specifically, I think you can circle Kevin Durant’s box score as a good place to start in identifying the lopsided score. Durant was 6-24 from the floor with six turnovers and 0-10 from 3. Oh-for-ten. That is rare. I looked over a number of box scores even from Durant’s rookie year and you can make a good case that this was his worst game ever. Imagine if Durant had a normal KD style game. The Thunder might not have won, but it would’ve been close. Those 10 3-pointers weren’t forced. They were open looks. And KD doesn’t miss open looks that much. Something that would really help the Thunder’s offense would be for Kevin Durant to start playing like Kevin Durant.
I think the biggest issue right now with this team is that at times, there’s no sense of urgency. And then at others, there’s too much of it. What I mean is that sometimes, there’s just coasting, as if everyone is waiting for someone else to do something whether it’s grab a rebound, block a shot or get to the rim. There’s a lot of standing around. And then at other times, they try and turn it on and it seems like the Thunder is trying to score eight points on every possession. They’re too aggressive, trying too hard and as a result, playing pretty dumb basketball.
For instance, after getting behind by 19 in the first half, Scott Brooks called a timeout and the Thunder quickly ripped off 12 straight. It looked like they were ready to get into the game and settle down. The teams went back and forth and eventually, the Clips held a 10-point lead going into halftime. No biggie. But quickly, the Clippers recovered and pushed it back to 15 mid-way through the third. OKC clawed and got it back to 10 with a few minutes left in the quarter. But the Clips turned it up and made it 14 heading to the fourth. And then in the last period, there wasn’t much fight by OKC as the Clips ran away with it.
- Seriously, 0-10 from 3? I mean, seriously?
- One theory I liked sent to me on Twitter: Blame Mathias Murphy for KD’s shooting problems. Stalkers can have an affect on people’s minds in a lot of ways, you know.
- Right now with the offense, everything is predicated on Russell Westbrook creating something. There’s a lot of standing around and waiting. The ball movement is non-existent and there’s nothing really resembling an offense. It’s not good.
- Jeff Green kept OKC from getting run out of the building in the first half. He had 17 points on 7-10 shooting with five rebounds. Problem with that though? His final line was 19 points on 7-13 with nine rebounds.
- I really felt for KD during the game though. He knows he’s better than this. I think he’s overthinking. He’s thinking about getting teammates involved while thinking about trying to assert himself and be The Man. I kind of wonder if Scott Brooks messed up with this playing him at point guard stuff in the preseason. I haven’t seen Durant unsure of himself like this before. It’s like he’s not in the flow of the game because he’s trying to do too many things at once.
- One guy that deserves to have a finger pointed in his face is James Harden. There’s no hiding it. He’s been stinky so far. Wednesday was kind of a typical game: 1-7, two points and one assists in 18 minutes. He was drafted to pick up the team when there were bad offensive nights. But Brooks couldn’t really put him on the floor because Harden didn’t look like he had a confident bone in his body. Timid would be an apt word to describe his demeanor.
- OKC shot 37.8 from the field and went 4-26 from 3. The thing with the offense is that it’s not turnovers. It’s just bad shots and bad shooting. I feel like that’s something that can be fixed.
- Eric Bledsoe looked pretty darn good.
- A difference between this year and last year is that OKC would have won this game 92-88 last season. They would’ve locked down, played solid defense and hung in the game despite the bad shooting. Instead, they let the Clips hit 52.5 percent from the floor and 8-16 from 3. Miss you Ron Adams.
- Hey, Daequan Cook made some baskets! He hit 3-7 from 3 off the bench and had 13 points. That was kind of encouraging.
- Brooks after the game: “We have to focus on sticking to our principles and staying together on both ends. It wasn’t there tonight for whatever reason. We’ve got to figure it out. There’s a lot of basketball left. I believe in our guys. I understand we haven’t played well in the last two games and there’s no excuses for that other than the other team outplayed us and we have to get better.”
- This game was a shame too, because I think we were all excited about it. Excited to watch Blake Griffin take on the team from OKC. And we got this.
By the end of it, it looked like the Thunder was demoralized. You could see it in their face, in their body language. What the heck is wrong with us? What is going on? Nobody felt it more than Durant. He knows. He knows that he supposed to play better. He knows that if he puts up his normal effort, his team is right there. He knows that he’s got to be the leader and that he has to be able to put his guys on his back and carry them when they need it.
I think some people are probably getting a bit carried away with this. I don’t deny that there are problems. But take a deep breath, relax and look at what it is. The Thunder was 13-14 last season before it all started to come together. We’re expecting so much that we’re not giving these guys ANY room to mess up. They didn’t put those expectations there. You did. And if they’re not living up to them four games in, that’s your problem.
But I’m not opposed to criticism. Things aren’t working right now. Something is wrong. A lot of it is simply bad shooting. Kevin Durant is not going to go 6-24 very often. But there are obviously issues. The defense is poor. The offense is simplistic. The team lacks focus at times. There are major lapses in execution. They don’t appear ready to play. On and on and on. It’s got to be corrected and it’s got to be corrected in a hurry or we’re going to see something embarrassing Thursday night against the Blazers. Don’t lose faith in this team four games in. I’m confident it’ll get worked out, but the question is, how long will it take?
Next up: At the Blazers Thursday night on TNT.