I think I need to count to 10 before I start writing. Actually, it might be a better idea to count to a thousand.
One word describes the last 14 seconds of this game for the Thunder: meltdown. It was a total meltdown by the Thunder. One game after the wonderful late-game theatrics and heroics against the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City basically tossed one away against the Hornets.
With 14 seconds left, the Thunder had possession with the game tied at 89-89. We were all thinking the same thing. Kevin. Durant.
Despite Durant being scoreless in the period and 0-4 from the floor, we all knew the ball was going to him and after Saturday, we all felt pretty good about our chances. Except Durant never even got the chance. The Thunder turned the ball over, the Hornets took possession with nine seconds to go and just like it was 2005, David West drilled a gorgeous fadeaway with 0.5 seconds left.
The game was over there, but to make matters even more frustrating, the Thunder couldn’t even get the ball inbounds with 0.5 seconds left for a chuck at the rim. Two possessions in the last 14 seconds, zero shots attempted. I’m fuming. I just spent the last 20 minutes racking myself with a golf club. There have been other frustrating games, other frustrating moments, but this one probably takes the cake.
Some reasons: OKC turned the ball over 17 times. Durant struggled down the stretch. Chris Paul made me want to dive headfirst into an empty pool. And the Thunder lost a completely winnable game on the road. This is a game we’ll remember at the end of the year. This is a game that we’ll point to if OKC comes up a game short for something, whether it be the division or home court or whatever.
The shame is, the Thunder played pretty well. The first quarter was outstanding, the defense was terrific for most of the game and they appeared to be executing perfectly in the last couple minutes. It looked like another classic close Thunder win. Except for once, they gave one away. They didn’t make the plays, didn’t make the shots and didn’t get the stop. I think maybe the reason it’s so maddening is just that we’re not used to seeing this anymore. We’re used to these guys closing and finishing. But they melted in New Orleans and as a result, gave one away.
- Here’s a fun stat: 23 fouls on the Thunder, 14 on the Hornets. Rarely do you see a gap that big.
- Nights like this is where Jeff Green shows you how helpful he can be. He played a game-high 43 minutes, scored 19 points on 8-13 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. He was pretty good throughout, which was nice.
- The Thunder went big down the stretch with Westbrook, Durant, Green, Ibaka and Collison. I liked the lineup a decent amount.
- This was the first game with at least 19 points for Green in more than a month. Everyone kept saying he was in a “slump” but it was more like he just wasn’t playing good. Hopefully he picked up some confidence tonight.
- With the game tied at 89-89, Westbrook elevated for a little elbow jumper that seriously rimmed in and out like I’ve never seen. People say, “That was halfway down!” all the time, but that one seriously was.
- It honestly makes me feel a little sick to think I used to root for Chris Paul. His flop early in the game in the open floor where he tried to draw a foul on Westbrook was seriously one of the most egregious attempts I’ve seen. Then came an even worse one in the third. And another horrible one a few minutes later. And then the pathetic charge attempt on Westbrook. It’s seriously the worst I’ve ever, ever seen. He should be fined for it. It cheapens the game.
- I mean, CP3 is an awesome player. Just awesome. But for some reason, he saw the need to try and fall and flop his way to fouling Westbrook out or something. The only reason I could figure was the Paul knew he was overmatched by Westbrook. Maybe CP3 knew he couldn’t keep up and couldn’t handle Russ, so the only thing he could do was to try and cheaply foul him out by falling down at every opportunity.
- This game was lost only by turnovers. OKC shot 46.5 percent, NOLA 45.5 percent. OKC hit six 3s, NOLA four. Both teams made 17 free throws. OKC won the boards 41-33. But the Thunder turned it over 17 times to the Hornets nine.
- My brother-in-law texted me after the second-to-last turnover and said, “Why don’t they value the ball!?!?!” I wish I knew, because they certainly don’t.
- When Eric Maynor really steps into a 3, I feel like it’s going down every time.
- The Thunder had an opportunity to play the entire game with a lead as they played an excellent first quarter. But the second unit was awful in the second quarter. OKC lost the quarter 31-12, letting the Hornets take a lead into halftime.
- You have to give credit to David West for that shot. It was a tough look. Falling back over the hand of Ibaka. Just a great shot.
- But again, he should’ve never been taking it. Ugh, I want to punch something again.
- Chris Paul just fell down again somewhere.
- This loss is bad and it’s frustrating, but remember, it was on the road against a pretty good Hornets team. So there’s no shame in losing. Just the way they lost.
- I know it’s easy to blame Scott Brooks for the play designs at the end, but that’s not his fault. Collison made a dumb decision and Thabo threw the ball away. NBA players should be able to get the ball inbounds without turning it over. We don’t actually know how good Brooks’ play designs were because the players never gave themselves a chance to run them.
Amazing how we can all go from top of the world to really perturbed just like that. The shame is, OKC played a better game tonight than they did against New York Saturday. Against the Knicks, OKC really kind of stole one. Against the Hornets, the Thunder gave one away. I guess it all kind of balances itself out and it’s one of 82, but I’m pretty sure I lost two or three years off my life in those last 14 seconds. It was completely, entirely, utterly maddening. I can’t think of another way to describe it. The season goes on, but for some reason, this one feels like 10 losses balled into one.
I don’t like the Hornets, I don’t like Chris Paul and it would’ve been nice to go 3-0 against them. On their big night where they met their stupid attendance benchmark because a bunch of local business bought tickets instead of actual fans actually buying tickets, it would’ve been so sweet to crush their spirits at home. Instead, the Thunder tossed one in the toilet. Ugh. And no, I’m not bitter. Not at all.
Next up: At Minnesota Wednesday.