The Thunder drop to 15-11 on the season tonight and simply couldn’t keep up with Utah offensively. OKC shot 36% from the field and 31% from three, while Utah shot 58% from the field and 56% from three. The shooting woes of this team are obvious, and the Thunder can’t expect to win any game with that sort of shooting disparity.
With no Oladipo or Payne, OKC has one NBA-caliber playmaker in Russell Westbrook. When he’s off the floor, the offensive flow almost instantly vanishes. Semaj Christon showed signs tonight of looking like an NBA player, but I’m still not sure that his game is developed enough to make an impact yet.
The Thunder replaced Jerami Grant and Domantas Sabonis in the starting line-up with Anthony Morrow and Nick Collison to start the second half. OKC went on a solid run and cut a 19 point Utah lead down to 6. The solid team defense in that quarter stemmed the offense on the other end, but it wasn’t sustainable enough to change the outcome of this game.
The state of Utah continues to hate Enes Kanter. Despite the loud boos from the crowd, Kanter posted 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He looked a little shaky to start the game, with the Utah crowd seemingly affecting his style of play at times. Not to be a body language doctor, but he seems like he really, really doesn’t want to get his shot blocked. And Rudy Gobert happens to be one of the most intimidating guys to go against in the post. That kind of mindset can completely change your aggressiveness, but luckily Kanter is very crafty and got to the line eight times.
It’s tough to know what this game would’ve looked like with Oladipo and Payne, but that can’t be the excuse for losing tonight. Utah didn’t have George Hill and Derrick Favors played with a minutes restriction. The Thunder played their best when A-Mo and Collison started in the second half. Two savvy NBA vets with high basketball IQs made this team instantly better. The Thunder played together as a team offensively and defensively, even if it was short lived.
The Thunder needed that kind of team-oriented play from other key role players tonight like Sabonis, Grant and Christon. They’ll have an amazing offensive highlight and then give up an easy possession on the other end. They’ll play great defensive and lay an egg for three straight minutes on offense. It’s not a recipe for winning basketball games, especially when there is consistency on either end for the bench. Kanter and Westbrook can be guilty of giving up easy buckets, but they’re consistently very solid on offense. The Thunder have to find a way to play at least semi-consistently on both ends or they’re going to have a longggg January.
- Westbrook had 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal. He shot a pretty inefficient 7-of-25, but hey that stat line is still impressive.
- Roberson had 0 points tonight in 32 minutes. The Thunder have to find ways for him to get involved somehow on offense.
- Rodney Hood gave Kanter a slight shove after a Kanter and-one. The Thunder really, really should’ve drafted Hood over McGary. That could’ve been an encouraging pat on the back, but probably not.
- Semaj Christon hit a pretty impressive first quarter half court buzzer beater. And of course Shelvin Mack responded and hit his own buzzer beater for the Jazz before the half.
- Rodney Hood tallied 25 points tonight and hit 5 three-pointers. He was Utah’s best player tonight. I’d really like to hear some debate on who the better basketball player is between him and Oladipo. It’s pretty close in my book, but I’m with Team Vickie.
- I don’t consider this game as a terrible loss given that this was the second game of a road back-to-back. With that being said, the Thunder need to win against Phoenix on Saturday at home, with or without Oladipo.
Next Up: Phoenix on Saturday at home in a mid-afternoon game at 4:00 PM CST