Preseason games against international opponents are typically nothing more than tune-up games for teams in the NBA, but the Thunder’s game on Monday against Real Madrid was much more exciting than that. Oklahoma City lost in overtime 137-142, but as is typically the case, there was more to the game than can be seen from the final score.
While an easy yet knee-jerk reaction may be to panic and question how in the world a talented young team like the Oklahoma City Thunder could fall to a lesser team like Real Madrid, rest easy, Thunder fans. A loss is never the desired outcome, but in this case, there is not much to worry about.
Defense Gives Up Too Many
The Thunder led by as many as 22, but they simply did not play well enough to get the win. Real Madrid shot an incredible 58% from the field, but what really hurt the Thunder was allowing 20/37 for 54.1% from three. Real Madrid managed 11 offensive rebounds and won the rebound battle overall 40-36, an area where the Thunder typically excel.
With 4.1 seconds to go and the Thunder leading by five, a crazy turn of events allowed Real Madrid to get the win that started as Thunder rookie Domantas Sabonis fouled Andres Nocioni on a 3-point shot. Nocioni knocked down the first two free throws and then proceeded to miss the third on purpose to give Real Madrid a chance to put up a shot for the tie. Sergio Llull from Real Madrid managed to get the ball and put up a shot as time expired, hitting it to force overtime.
Real Madrid went on to outscore Oklahoma City 16-11 in overtime, earning a rare win for an international team over an NBA squad.
Oladipo, Kanter Lead Supercharged Offense
While Russell Westbrook is undoubtedly the leader of the Thunder, especially on the offensive end, Enes Kanter and newcomer Victor Oladipo led the way offensively in Spain. Oladipo shot 14/24 for 34 points, including the dunk below, to go with 5 assists in 33 minutes.
Kanter played 33 minutes off the bench, scoring 29 points on 12/20 shooting while tacking on 10 rebounds. Westbrook only played 22 minutes, sitting out the second and fourth quarters as well as overtime, but he still scored 18 points on 7/14 shooting along with 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and only a single turnover. Alex Abrines and Ersan Ilyasova also finished in double digits with 12 and 11 points respectively.
As a team, the Thunder shot 54.7% from the floor, which included 11/29 for 37.9% from beyond the arc. Oklahoma City did a decent job sharing the ball by assisting on 22 baskets, but just like last season, they struggled to take care of the rock by giving it up far too often for 15 turnovers.
Steven Adams Sprained Ankle a Concern
After playing just nine first-half minutes, Steven Adams sprained his ankle following a catch and shoot floater in the paint. At first look, he just landed awkwardly on an opponent’s foot and rolled his ankle, but time will tell whether it is serious or not. Adams sat out the rest of the game as Kanter took his place with the starters in the second half. Adams will likely sit out the Thunder’s next game in Spain against FC Barcelona and hopefully be ready for a return in the following preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, October 11th in Dallas.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @thethunderguys on Twitter.