A busy week for the Oklahoma City Thunder, including five games in seven nights with two back to backs. Unfortunately, the Thunder struggled with the back to backs, dropping 3 of 4 to give them a 2-3 record on the week.
SIX THINGS FROM THE WEEK
Blowouts. A 28-point drubbing at the hands of the Chicago Bulls gave the Thunder a three-game losing streak, with each loss by double digits. The loss to the Bulls was a case study in the snowball effect. Nothing went right for the Thunder, as they shot horribly (38% from the field, 27% from three), played awful defense (allowing the Bulls to make 61% of their attempts), and got beat at their own game (Bulls outscored the Thunder 28-18 in fast break points).
Russell, the one man wrecking crew. With 2:34 to go against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder trailed 102-99. As is so often the case against the Grizzlies, the game appeared headed for a contentious finish. But, instead, something incredible happened. It began with Westbrook drawing a three-shot foul and sinking all of his foul shots. It continued with a Westbrook three, and then another on the next possession. Westbrook kept scoring, adding 2 free throws, a driving layup, and 2 more free throws. When the buzzer sounded, the MVP candidate had single-handedly outscored the Grizzlies 15-0 over the final two minutes and change. In Westbrook’s well-stocked cupboard of MVP moments, this one will surely be among the best. Oh, and Westbrook also secured his 25th triple-double of the season.
Everyone gets to play. This week, fourteen players received playing time. With the team struggling at times, Donovan experimented with lineups, resulting in thirteen different players getting meaningful minutes, and the team showcasing 54 (!) different lineups. This total includes 12 lineups that appeared in more than one of the five games this week. Admittedly, a high volume in variations isn’t wildly out of the ordinary, but the Thunder do tend to use the full breadth of their active roster more than most teams. Moreover, the injury to Enes Kanter has forced Donovan to go to the drawing board, as he looks for productive lineups that otherwise would’ve included the team’s leading bench scorer.
Steven Adams gobbles up offensive rebounds. On Friday against the Grizzlies, Adams nabbed a career high 11 offensive rebounds, helping the Thunder score 25 second-chance points. Adams followed up his career effort by grabbing 9 offensive rebounds on Sunday against the Portland Trailblazers, the second most in his career in a single game. Coincidentally, Adam’s previous offensive rebound career high (8) was also against the Grizzlies back on December 29, 2016.
Glass. Now, I love including stats in this column. It’s the best way to illustrate the point I’m trying to make. It pains me, then, that they do not keep stats on shots off the glass because I feel like Westbrook would lead the league. I don’t see anyone else who routinely takes advantage of the backboard on jump shots more than Westbrook. It’s a fundamental way to play that defies the desire to get the swish.
Third quarter woes. If it feels like the Thunder struggle in the third quarter, it’s because the Thunder struggle in the third quarter. Those struggles were on full display against the Indiana Pacers last night. At the break, OKC led Indiana by 11, but the third quarter saw the Pacers outscore the Thunder 32-18 and take a lead they would not relinquish. On the season, the Thunder have been outscored by 66 points in the third quarter, the sixth-worst mark in the league. The Thunder also have the eighth worst net rating in the third quarter (-5.4).
AND ONE THING MAKES SEVEN
Andre Roberson. Now this is how you punctuate your second-career double-double.