The Oklahoma City Thunder started the week off by extending its win streak to four games. However, the Thunder dropped two of the next three, with road losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Milwaukee Bucks sandwiching a complete demolition of the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers.
SIX THINGS FROM THE WEEK
Alex Abrines. For most of the year, Alex Abrines’s minutes have been inconsistent at best. As of late, however, Billy Donovan has been deploying Abrines with more regularity. This week, Abrines averaged over 18 minutes a game and produced–averaging 10.5 points while shooting 50% from three.
Welcome back Victor Oladipo. Though Oklahoma City performed admirably without Victor Oladipo in the lineup, his return brought a definite improvement in the offensive flow. Despite missing two weeks, Oladipo showed no signs of rust, putting up 16.5 points on 52/50/100 splits. Even better, Oladipo showed some chemistry with Steven Adams in the first quarter of the Bucks’ game–dishing two sweet assists to Adams. As Oladipo continues to develop as the Thunder’s secondary playmaker, so does the Thunder’s offense.
Enes Kanter’s Sixth Man of the Year Campaign. Excluding a dud against the Bucks, Enes Kanter had been on an absolute tear. Up until his dismal 2-point performance against Milwaukee, Kanter had scored at least 19 points in 5 straight games, which is the longest such streak of his career. Not coincidentally, with Kanter struggling mightily against the athletic Milwaukee front court, the bench struggled mightily. Without any offensive firepower from the bench, the Thunder couldn’t keep Milwaukee at bay despite a hot start.
Ejections… technicals too. In a game with nothing going right for anyone in a blue Thunder jersey, even more went wrong for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook’s frustration boiled over in the third quarter. On a relatively benign play, Westbrook lashed out at the officials for resetting the shot clock when Westbrook believed Memphis failed to hit the rim. After drawing a technical foul, Westbrook didn’t stop, continuing to express his disagreement with a full gamut of colorful language. And just like that, Westbrook received his second tech, sending him to the locker room with zero assists. On the year, Westbrook has 11 techs, more than anyone else in the league. If Westbrook gets five more over the next 47 games, he’ll find himself suspended for a game.
That Loss to the Grizzlies. Yep, nothing went right for the Thunder against the Grizzlies in Memphis. The thirty-four point loss was the worst this season for the Thunder. Notably, with Westbrook in the locker room for the entire fourth quarter, the Thunder were pummeled into submission by the Grizzlies, with the Grizzlies outscoring the Thunder by 17 in the final frame. Yes, that’s right. What was already an ugly loss became a complete embarrassment.
Whoa Steven Adams. Whoa.
AND ONE MORE THING MAKES SEVEN
Road Woe-rriors. After falling to the Bucks, the Thunder dropped to just 8-8 on the road this season. This is a pretty important stat, as the Thunder play 12 of 15 games on the road in January. That being said, if the Thunder can go .500 or better during this murderous stretch, you’d feel pretty good about things. Those 12 road games include (in addition to the Bucks) several likely-playoff teams such as the Rockets, Clippers, Warriors, Jazz, Cavaliers, and Spurs.