For 24 minutes of basketball on Thursday night in Oklahoma City, it was almost easy to forget the Thunder entered with an 0-3 record. After moving Jerami Grant into the starting lineup in place of Patrick Patterson prior to tip-off, OKC charged out to a commanding first half lead — fully utilizing an atrocious start for the Celtics, who shot 32 percent from the floor, 0-of-11 from deep, and hit just 54 percent of their free throw attempts in the first two quarters.
Led by Paul George’s 13 points, the Thunder held a 50-34 lead at the break. Things were finally looking up — until, suddenly, they weren’t.
The stagnant Celtics came to life in the third quarter, as they hit 7-of-10 from downtown in the frame and stymied an ineffective Thunder offense. George and a struggling Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 6-of-16, and Boston outscored OKC 40-23 en route to holding a 74-73 advantage with one quarter to go.
After trading the lead back-and-forth, an Alex Abrines three-pointer put the Thunder up seven with a little less than five minutes to play. However, OKC’s broken offense reached a new low from that point forward, as Boston would outscore the Thunder 16-3 from the 4:57-mark on, completing the comeback from a 16-point deficit to escape with a 101-95 victory. Westbrook and George combined to shoot 0-of-9 in the quarter.
George led the Thunder with 22 points and 8 rebounds but shot just 7-of-22 from the floor and 2-of-10 from deep. Westbrook, who looked sensational in his season debut on Sunday, played like a guy that hasn’t spent much time on the floor lately — wrapping up his night with 13 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, shooting 5-of-20 (0-of-5 from deep) and turned the ball over five times. Four Celtics scored in double-figures, led by Jayson Tatum’s 24 and Marcus Morris’ 21.
The 0-4 Thunder return to action on Sunday when Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns pay a visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena. That game tips-off at 6:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Paul George highlights:
Russell Westbrook highlights:
That’s On Me: After the game, Russell Westbrook took the blame for the Thunder’s fourth quarter collapse:
New Starting Five: Grant replaced Patterson in the starting lineup and responded with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block in 31 minutes of action. Patterson logged 17 minutes off the bench and had perhaps his best game of the season, contributing 7 points and 7 rebounds on 3/5 shooting (all 7 in the fourth). No word from Billy Donovan on whether or not the change is permanent or a decision based on the matchup.
Diallo/Ferguson: For those not counting at home, Hamidou Diallo saw 20 minutes of floor time against Boston — six more than starter Terrance Ferguson. Alex Abrines logged 19 minutes and, coincidentally enough, the three shooting guards were the only players on the Thunder roster to finish with positive net ratings.
The Bigs: Steven Adams had 12 points and 6 rebounds in 33 minutes. Al Horford changed the game with his play in the third quarter — at one point hitting three 3-pointers in roughly 40 seconds — and wrapped up his night with 19 points and 9 rebounds.
Dog Days Aren’t Over: The Thunder came in with a sputtering offense and things only got worse against the Celtics. OKC shot 39.4 percent from the field, 25 percent (7-of-28) from deep, and an abysmal 56 percent (14-of-25) from the free throw line. There are problems.