3 min read

Thunder Starts Strong, Collapses Down the Stretch in New Orleans


Familiar struggles plagued the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, as the team started strong out of the gate before stumbling to the finish line. Despite DeMarcus Cousins being ejected in the third quarter, the New Orleans Pelicans rode 36 points and 15 rebounds from Anthony Davis to score a 114-107 win over the Thunder.

Russell Westbrook recorded his fifth triple-double of the season, Paul George shot 6/10 from downtown, and the OK3 combined for 67 points on 40 percent shooting. However, it wasn’t enough as OKC falls to 7-9 ahead of Wednesday night’s game with the Golden State Warriors.

Full highlights:

Let’s discuss.

Another Wasted Start

Stop me if you’ve heard this before — The Thunder got out to a hot start, only to watch the lead completely evaporate.

OKC jumped out to an 8-0 advantage, led 17-2 at the 7:40 mark, and was up 25-6 with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. The team started 5/5 from deep and had the Pelicans completely discombobulated in every way.

New Orleans then ended the first quarter on an 18-8 run, and the fantastic Thunder start translated into a 33-24 lead headed into the second quarter. It took only a few minutes for the Pelicans to take the lead from there, and OKC never again looked as dominant as it did in the first six minutes of the game.

New Orleans trailed by nine after one quarter, then outscored the Thunder 90-74 in quarters two, three and four. That’s the story of the season in a nutshell, folks. For further illustration, check out the team shooting percentages by quarter:

NOLA: 60% / 57.9% / 59.1 % / 45.8%

OKC: 50% / 47.8% / 29.4% / 32%

Welcome to Groundhog’s Day.

Boogie’s Ejection

The Thunder was leading 76-72 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter when DeMarcus Cousins was ejected for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head. He was given a Flagrant 2 and hit the showers after recording 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in 26 minutes.

The play:

Pretty weak call, but we’ve seen worse.

Again — the Thunder was leading at this point in time. Should have spelled certain doom for the Pelicans, no? Cousins was giving the OKC defense fits and the NOLA attack isn’t exactly stocked full of weaponry.

As the story goes, the Pelicans outscored OKC 42-31 without Boogie — riding a very large dose of Anthony Davis down the stretch. The Brow scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, and shot 18/22 from the free throw line in game. His ability to get whatever he wanted was too much for the Thunder to handle, and it didn’t hurt his cause that OKC shot just 32 percent in the last 12 minutes. Gift wrapped.


The Thunder plus-minus numbers from tonight:

  • Adams: +16
  • Melo: +11
  • Westbrook: +9
  • Roberson: +7
  • George: -3
  • Huestis: -4
  • Dakari: -5
  • Felton: -13
  • Abrines: -17
  • Grant: -18
  • Patterson: -18

The Thunder reserves were every bit as bad as it looks, especially considering the Pelicans had +30, +26, +19 and +11 off their bench.


  • The Thunder shot 13/42 in the second half — with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony combining to shoot 3/18 in quarters three and four. Paul George tried to keep the team alive with some late three-pointers, but Russ and Melo were too bad to come out the other side with a win.
  • The Thunder was absolutely abused in the paint, getting outscored 58-36 by the Pelicans. NOLA also won on the boards, 49-40.
  • OKC shot 11/35 from downtown, but started a scorching 5/5. Hitting six of the last 30 attempts from distance was extremely painful to watch, and showed a complete lack of creativity from Billy Donovan & Co.
  • Steven Adams was a team-high +16 for OKC, scoring 15 points — but grabbing just 3 rebounds.
  • Raymond Felton came into the game shooting 48 percent from the floor and 44 percent from long range. He finished the night with 6 points on 2/7 shooting — including 0/3 from deep. He was bound to return to earth at some point, and did so against the Pelicans.
  • When discussing another blown lead, Billy Donovan said after the game, “It’s different things. It’s not the same things. The constant is the lead’s evaporating, but it’s not the same thing.” (h/t Brett Dawson)

Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry discusses the win. Via Pelicans.

Steven Adams on blowing leads. Via Brett Dawson.

Back in action on Wednesday. Warriors @ Thunder.