If you’re looking for rock bottom — good news — I believe the Thunder has found it.
Oklahoma City was trounced by the 5-15 Mavericks on Saturday night in Dallas, getting run out of the American Airlines Center by a score of 97-81. The loss drops the Thunder to 8-11 on the season and puts a shining spotlight on the Panic Button.
Let’s discuss what happened.
What Went Wrong
In short: Everything.
Everything went wrong.
After a reasonable start put the Thunder up seven points in the first quarter, the entire thing melted down and devolved into a house of horrors. OKC couldn’t buy a bucket, couldn’t slow down the Dallas offense, and watched Dirk Nowitzki turn back the hands of time to lead the Mavericks in scoring. Nothing went right.
As per usual, the OKC offense was virtually non-existent in the second and third quarters. Check out the Thunder’s shooting percentages by quarter:
The Thunder won quarters one and four by a combined score of 50-44, but was punished in quarters two and three by a combined total of 53-31. Even though OKC trimmed the Dallas lead to 12 with 2:55 remaining after an 18-5 run, the hole the team put itself in was again too big to overcome.
Some more stats from what’s now the worst loss of the season:
- The Thunder shot 36 percent from the field, compared to 49 percent for Dallas.
- OKC lost the rebounding battle 43-39
- Dallas outscored OKC 36-24 in the paint
- OKC turned the ball over 17 times
Second Quarter of Doom
It’s difficult to explain how awful the second quarter was for the Thunder. Dallas led 25-24 after the first, then went on a 12-0 run to open the second. OKC was outscored 27-13 over the next 12 minutes of basketball, shooting 5/19 in the frame — good for a whopping 26.3 percent.
OKC’s second quarter shot chart:
It was somehow worse than it looks.
The entire game was junk, but if you’re looking for the point in the contest where the wheels came off — look no further than the second quarter. It’s alarming that OKC never recovers from these atrocious stretches, as they’re becoming a death bell of sorts. The team simply cannot adjust and counter-punch its way out of the holes it puts itself in — even against really poor opponents.
Paul George and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Paul George has looked superhuman lately, but he was anything but tonight in Dallas. His final stat line:
2 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 1/12 FG, 0/4 3P, -16
Those shooting numbers… yikes.
The rest of his stat line looks great, as he was his typical self in essentially every other facet of the game outside of scoring. But this Thunder team isn’t near good enough to win with him throwing up a clunker from the field.
A Spade is a Spade
I didn’t think I’d be writing this so quickly after Wednesday’s win over Golden State, but there’s really no other way to put it…
The Thunder isn’t a good basketball team.
There are levels to that statement and it’s not as if things can’t change. There is too much talent on the Thunder roster to not eventually look like a functioning basketball team, but this has been really bad. The blown leads, the complete lack of consistency, losing to lottery-bound opponents — it’s been bad. All of it.
Growing pains were long expected but there’s no excuse at this point in the season — after all, we’re nearly a quarter of the way through. The team has shown brief flashes of brilliance — the longest being the win over the Warriors — but far more often it’s a listless, uninspired bunch that doesn’t seem to be learning much about playing with one another. It’s not fun to watch and certainly doesn’t look like much fun to be a part of.
I’m not the type to jump on my soap box and call for the someone’s head, but one has to wonder how long this must go on before sweeping changes are implemented. Losing is one thing, but losing games in this fashion is another. The Thunder is in trouble if things don’t improve.
Heavy T-Ferg Minutes. Not only did Terrance Ferguson play tonight in Dallas, he logged 21 minutes and scored 7 points on 3/5 shooting. Billy Donovan seemingly injected him into the rotation to see if he could spark anything worth holding onto, and Ferguson performed admirably in his run. He was particularly effective out of the gate — scoring all 7 points in his first 11 minutes of action. The rest of his minutes were unremarkable, but this is something to monitor.
Alex Abrines is Missing. With Ferguson in the rotation, Alex Abrines did not enter the game until it was well out of reach — checking in for the first time at the 1:50 mark of the fourth quarter. His diminishing role has never been more evident, and one must assume Ferguson played well enough to continue getting minutes in the short term. Abrines has failed to reach double-digit minutes in each of the last three games, and is scoreless over the same span.
Melo’s Catch-and-Shoot Third Quarter. Carmelo Anthony had 16 points on 6/12 shooting — going 4/7 from downtown in the process. He was just kind of there for most of the night, but had a great streak in the third quarter that looked like it might spark something for OKC. He shot 3/4 from deep in the third, all of which came in catch-and-shoot situations. Funny how that works.
Nick Collison Minutes. Nick Collison checked-in with the Thunder down by 25 with 9:15 to go in the game. Sporting a mysterious black eye, he recorded 4 points and 3 rebounds, while also taking one of his trademark charges. He wrapped up the night a team-high +10 and was on the floor when OKC tried to make it interesting late. He’s not a part of the normal rotation, but one must wonder if he should be. This team needs anyone capable of doing their job.
- The loss is the worst loss of the season for OKC, and the first defeat coming by double-digits.
- The 81 points was a season-low.
- Andre Roberson only saw 16 minutes of floor time — I don’t get it.
- OKC got within 10 with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter. One minute and four seconds later that Dallas lead was already back at 17 and that felt like the moment the game ended.
- The Thunder used an 18-5 run to scratch within 12 late in the game — and then saw its next possession end on a contested, early clock corner three attempt from Raymond Felton. Sort of felt like OKC’s problems in a nutshell.
OKC now gets a much-needed break and is off until Wednesday. Thunder @ Magic. 6 PM CT on November 29.