The Thunder got off to a slow start against the Hornets on Monday night, falling in a 12-point hole in the first quarter. Showing a bit of resolve, Oklahoma City outscored Charlotte 26-18 in the second quarter to take a 52-52 tie into halftime.
Then — like clockwork — everything melted down.
The Hornets shot 7/10 from long range in the third, exploiting the Thunder defense en route to a 40-22 advantage in the frame. It was the most points Oklahoma City has given up in a single quarter this season and left the team with an 18 point deficit headed into the final 12 minutes of basketball.
The Thunder would cut the Charlotte lead to 10 midway through the fourth — but that’s as close as it would get. The disastrous third quarter was ultimately too much to overcome, and the Hornets left Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 116-103 victory.
The loss drops Oklahoma City to 12-14 and has formally submitted its application for the lowest point of the season thus far. The Thunder will be back in action on Wednesday night in Indianapolis.
Now for a few notes.
Final stat lines for Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony:
Westbrook: 30 pts, 7 ast, 4 reb, 10/22 FG, -12
George: 20 pts, 5 reb, 7/14 FG, 2/4 3P, -5
Anthony: 11 pts, 5/12 FG, 1/3 3P, -21
Combined they shot 22/48 (45 percent) and failed to establish any sort of offensive rhythm all night. Their combined shot chart:
Twenty-six games into the season the Thunder offense too frequently results in a poor mid-range attempt. In the third quarter that saw OKC outscored by 18 points, the OK3 combined to shoot 5/14 and provided little resistance to Charlotte’s onslaught.
The Thunder defense was without Andre Roberson tonight but was still uncharacteristically bad. Charlotte shot 53 percent from the field, 52 percent (13/25) from downtown, dished out 22 assists and outscored OKC 42-38 in the paint. Roberson’s absence was felt throughout, particularly in the third quarter when the Hornets knocked down seven long balls.
Six Hornets scored in double-figures, led by Dwight Howard with 23. They got pretty much everything they wanted all night, having no trouble scoring on a defense allowing just 99 PPG coming in.
Notes & Highlights
Starting Five. Andre Roberson sat out with a sprained ankle, so Alex Abrines made his third consecutive start. He shot the ball confidently — and perhaps too often — going 2/9 from the field and hitting 2/7 of his attempts from long range. Most of his looks were very open, yet he failed to convert with any consistency. Certainly a step back from his 6/8 performance from three-point range against the Grizzlies on Saturday.
The Big Men. Steven Adams came back to earth in this one, getting outplayed by Dwight Howard. Adams finished up the evening with 11 points and 10 rebounds — hitting 5/6 from the field. Would like to see him take far more shots than this.
Free Throws. OKC shot 24/25 from the free throw line — a big step up from where things have been lately. Didn’t translate into a win but it’s something.
Turning Point. Russell Westbrook threw down a monster jam in the third quarter — tying the game at 66 midway through the frame. This felt like a clear turning point for OKC — perhaps the moment it would click. Instead, Charlotte outscored OKC 26-8 over the next six minutes to effectively end the game. The dunk:
Paul George on where the Thunder stands at this point in the season. Via Royce Young.