Q4 comeback effort can't do it. Thunder falls to Rockets. pic.twitter.com/ABRD0IPXBt
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 26, 2017
The Thunder suffered a tough 137-125 loss this afternoon to the Houston Rockets. Oklahoma City was coming off of a three day break, which made a lot of people think they’d be ready to go. However, the Thunder came out flat and had the worst defensive performance of the season. Oklahoma City was not horrible on the other end of the floor, but the scoring was not enough to keep up with the hot shooting of the Rockets. Every time the Thunder could put together a couple of points, it seemed like the Rockets had already scored six.
Houston got off to a fantastic start, but the Thunder quickly battled back towards the end of the first quarter. After the comeback, the team still trailed by a few baskets. Eventually, the Thunder could no longer keep up with the scoring of the Rockets and they ran away with the lead during the second quarter. Houston shot an outstanding 71% from the floor in the first half, making it nearly impossible for Oklahoma City to compete.
The second half was no different for either team, as the Rockets continued to knock down shots from beyond the perimeter, and the Thunder continued to allow it to happen. There never seemed to be any halftime or in game adjustments, so nothing really changed throughout the course of the game. Oklahoma City tried to go on a little run during the fourth quarter, but Houston quickly shut it down with a barrage of three point shots.
Major Issues On Defense
This game can be summed up by one major issue for Oklahoma City, and that is defense. It doesn’t matter how well Westbrook plays, or how many shots Oladipo can make in transition, when the opposing team can score at will it is gonna be tough to win. Sometimes teams get hot and there isn’t much you can do about it. However, that was not the case today. There seemed to be an overall lack of effort on the defensive side of the ball that allowed Houston to get into that hot streak. Oklahoma City is an extremely talented team, but they are not good enough to take games off on defense.
The issues are from top to bottom, from the perimeter to the paint. Oklahoma City allowed way too many uncontested three point attempts. That isn’t something that should ever happen, but especially not against the best three point shooting team in the NBA. If the Rockets weren’t hitting from outside, they were getting easy buckets in the paint. Specifically, Steven Adams had a rough night defending in the paint, but he was not the only one. It’s not that the Thunder aren’t good enough to compete on defense, there just has to be more pride on that end of the floor. This team has to come out with more defensive intensity, especially coming off of three days rest.
MVP Race Likely Comes To An End
As the season is coming to an end, the MVP talks are certainly heating up. Depending on who you ask, either Russell Westbrook or James Harden is going to win the award this season. It was to no surprise that the national media jumped all over this game as the two were going head to head. A lot of people, including myself, thought that the better performance between the two guys would win the award. After seeing the reaction by both the media and the fans, it seems like that might be true.
There is only so much that one player can do for his team. At the end of the day, James Harden has the better team around him. That didn’t stop the Brodie from doing all he could to come out with the win. Westbrook did record his 36th triple-double of the season with 39 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds, which is certainly an MVP caliber performance if I’ve ever seen one.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 26, 2017
James Harden wasn’t nearly as impressive on the stats, but his team did come out with the win. Harden finished the afternoon with 22 points, 12 assists, and 5 rebounds. When you look at the two competitors head to head, Westbrook certainly looks like he won the matchup. Unfortunately, that’s not how the MVP race works. The Rockets came out with the win and are currently sitting at the third seed in the West. That being considered, James Harden will most likely be your MVP for this season.
On The Road Again
The Thunder will be back in action tomorrow night as they take a short flight to Dallas to play the Mavericks. The series is tied 1-1 this season between these two, as each team has won at home. The game will start at 7:30 PM CST and will be televised on FSOK. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.