Here’s my main takeaway from this game: When the shots don’t go in, everything looks pretty bad.
The Thunder led by seven with 5:41 to go. Then the Blazers went on a 16-0 run as the Thunder went more than four minutes without scoring. Within that stretch, Russell Westbrook missed some good looks, and some bad ones. But the key point is: Either way, none of them went in, whereas in most cases, they have this season.
Now, the Thunder did make a little push in the final 60 seconds, going on an 8-0 run to pull it within one with 15 seconds to go. After two Lillard free throws, Westbrook got an excellent look from 3 off a well designed misdirection play, but rimmed it out. And that was that.
Five big thoughts:
1) Westbrook had 45-8-4, but he didn’t play well at all, I thought. He took too many 3s (6-16), missing his final seven from deep. His assists were down partly because he looked to score a lot, but also because nobody was knocking anything down. McDermott shot 4-12 (1-6 from 3) and Adams only got three shots. But overall, Westbrook seemed to lose a little of the control he’s had so often this season. As the lead slipped, he forced the issue, teetering over to the Bad Russ side.
2) The Thunder really missed Oladipo tonight. Donovan made the mistake of sticking with Alex Abrines to start, and barely could play him against Portland’s backcourt. The starting five supplied 57 points tonight, 45 coming from Westbrook.
3) Maybe Steven Adams’ worst game of the season. He just looked… off. He played only 24 minutes and Jusef Nurkic just beat him up. Adams committed bad fouls, wasn’t a factor on the glass and made some defensive mistakes.
4) Norris Cole was, whatever. He’s got the job — for now — over Semaj Christon, and clearly Cole has some more offensive ability and confidence. He knocked down a smooth 3, and hit a midrange jumper. He had seven points, something Christon hasn’t done since early January.
5) This feels like a bad loss for the Thunder. Entering it, I thought they’d have trouble, especially without Oladipo on the road in this matchup, but they just didn’t play well. And then they had a lead, and didn’t come close to executing good offense or defense down the stretch. Part of the reason I think it feels bad is that the Thunder have lifted expectations a bit after the trade, and the way they’ve played. They moved within a game in the loss column of the Jazz for that four-seed, and this kind of loss hurts. It’s not that big of a deal, though, because in my mind going 2-1 on this little three-game trip would be a success. It just now puts some pressure on to win tomorrow in Phoenix.
Next up: At the Suns on Friday