When Russell Westbrook checked out of the game for the first time, the Blazers went on a 20-7 run. In that stretch the Thunder shot 1-14 from the field and had 4 turnovers. The Blazers never looked back from there. They busted it open to 20+ in the second half and it never got much closer than that.
Portland was coming off a late game Monday night in which they lost to the Clippers, but they looked anything but a team coming off a back-to-back. The Blazers were playing hard and aggressive, which got their fans involved, while the Thunder looked sloppy and uninterested.
All in all, the Thunder played a bad, bad game tonight. This has to be the worst loss since the Thunders’ loss to the Warriors earlier this season.
It seemed the Thunder were trying to attack the paint early. The Blazers backcourt of Lillard and McCollum aren’t known for their defense, and though Oladipo’s slashing abilities would be missed, the Thunder were relying on Westbrook to penetrate and score or create plays with Adams and Kanter. They saw some success with Adams (6-10, 14 points), but the with the Thunder shooting poorly (37.9% from the field, 29.6% from 3) the Blazers eventually were able to back off and clog the paint.
On the other end of the floor, the Blazers were able to attack inside with great efficiency all night, scoring 54 points down low to the Thunder’s 38. Lillard was able to get into the lane and cause help to shift over allowing him to find an open big man or kick it out for 3. Also, the Thunder’s pick-and-roll defense was horrible tonight, as the two man game of Lillard (17 points, 9 assists) and Plumlee (18 points, 7 rebounds) really did damage inside. The Thunder just seemed uninterested in the pick-and-roll D, lazily getting through screens and not getting their hands up to disrupt the passing lanes.
As I mentioend above, the Thunder really struggled shooting the the three. The Thunder couldn’t hit anything from deep. Even Anthony Morrow, who’s been hot lately, struggled from distance going 1-5. Not going to win a lot of games shooting that poorly.
On the other side of the ball, the Blazers shot lights out (53.8% from the field). They were hitting some ridiculous shots, but they also hit a lot of uncontested shots. The Thunder’s defense was just poor tonight in all facets tonight. The loss of Oladipo definitely shows, but I don’t think that’s an excuse for how the they played on the defensive side of the ball tonight.
Also, I’m not blaming the poor defense on Russell, but in Oladipo’s absence you would like to see him play with a little more passion on D. There were a lot of plays where he didn’t fight over the screen or didn’t hustle back after he thought he was fouled. Specifically, in the third quarter, Russ thought he was fouled and literally walked back down the court. He didn’t get back to the other side of the court until there were 12 seconds left on the shot clock. I know this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this, but it stands out in a loss where you are missing a key player. Again, this isn’t the reason the Thunder lost this game, but definitely didn’t help their overall team defense. Russ was Angry Russ tonight, which is always fun, but tonight it caused an issue because, without Oladipo, Russ needed to calm the guys down during the Blazers early runs and he wasn’t able to do so.
- On the ESPN pregame show Jalen and Chauncey had no idea Oladipo wasn’t playing when they were breaking down the game and said Oladipo vs McCollum would be a key matchup. Beadle had to fill them in.
- Al-Faroq Aminu was scratched from tonight’s lineup about an hour before the game. Seemed like huge plus for the Thunder, but… we all know how that went.
- Jerami Grant got the start in place of the injured Victor Oladipo. A little surprised as I was expecting see Morrow to start at the 2 and Roberson to slide to the 3 but Donovan decided to go with Grant.
- When Westbrook exited the game for the first time Portland really put it on the bench lineup. They were unable to generate any offense and weren’t making any stops on D.
- 20 tunovers. Not good.
- Thunder went to Kanter in the post a lot early on. He was able to draw fouls on both shots and by getting good position attacking the offensive boards. But, he had several lapses in pick-and-roll coverage that really hurt the Thunder on defense. Tough to see that because he was making a solid impact on the offensive end.
- 68 points was the most points given up by the thunder in the first half all season.
- Blazer fans booed Russ all night. I think he actually enjoys that though.
- Russ was frustrated and threw the ball from about half court to the ref under the basket. It was wayyy off the mark. Looked like they were gonna T him up initially but they didn’t. That was one of three times he could’ve gotten called for delay of game.
- Collison (+4) and Singler (+2) were the only pluses for the Thunde tonight…
- Grant tries to dunk everything, sometimes he lays it up but it always looks awkward because he was originally trying to dunk it.
- If you had to choose between Meyers Leonard or Kyle Singler’s hair, which would you chose? I’ll take answers in the comments.
- Andre Roberson hit a long two pointer tonight. Don’t see that very often.
- ESPN showed a graphic that the Thunder are +138 with Russ on the court and -81 with Russ off the court. I mean, I figured, but that’s still a crazy statistic.
- Russ made a three to bring the Thunder back down within 20 in the third. Directly after, Damian Lillard answered with a three from about 5 feet behind the 3-point line and then the Blazers got a steal and score on the inbound pass. That pretty much ended it for me. Oh, and the Blazers decided to troll Russ with that Dame shot.
- Russ went out with a little over 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. He did not return.
- Nick Collison got a tech in the fourth for a delay of game. Motivation tech? Veteran move? You tell me.
- Even though we lost, it was great to see at least one Russ to Steve alley-oop. Probably my favorite play.
- In case you missed it, Russ did not get a triple double.
Next up: Jazz in Utah tomorrow night at 8:00pm CST.