The Thunder had a chance to end their losing streak against the Orlando Magic who were on a nine game losing streak. However, things didn’t go exactly how they were planned. After losing again tonight by a score of 121-108, the Thunder has now lost six out of their last ten games.
The Thunder got off to a very slow start tonight. The game flow had a very similar feeling to that of the Mavericks game last weekend. Oklahoma City trailed by double digits early, largely due to the struggles on offense. Russell Westbrook couldn’t get anything going early, and the offense looked very stagnant. Luckily, Paul George was knocking down some shots, and OKC only trailed by 6 at the end of the first quarter.
Oklahoma City started playing a lot better in the second quarter, and the scoreboard reflected that. Russell Westbrook was able to find open guys who were knocking down shots. The pace of the second quarter started to pick up until Terrence Ross went down with a knee injury. After that, Orlando slowed down tremendously. Oklahoma City on the other hand, started finding all kinds of gaps in the Magic’s defense. Several guys for OKC were able to get straight to the rim right before halftime. The Magic held a small lead at the half, but you could feel the momentum starting to switch in favor of Oklahoma City.
Things were looking up for Oklahoma City to start the second half as both Paul George and Russell Westbrook were both lighting up the scoreboard. The team coasted their way back to even the score at 77. Immediately after evening the score, the Magic went on a 12-0 run to end the third quarter. OKC was in the bonus for over half of the quarter, but they were unable to capitalize on it, and the Thunder managed to produce only three points in the final four minutes of the quarter.
The Thunder had a huge hole to dig their way out of to start the fourth, but that didn’t stop Russell Westbrook from coming out and giving it all he’s got. They weren’t able to flip around the score, but the Thunder didn’t go out without a fight. Westbrook went 5/5 from the three ball in the quarter, and recorded over 20 points. He finished the game with 37 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. In the end, the late push from OKC was not enough to overcome the deficit.
3 Quick Thoughts
- This team must focus on defense: Typically, the strong point for this Thunder team has been defense. If the team is struggling on the offensive side of the ball they can usually look to their defense to get stops, or turnovers that lead to points. Oklahoma City simply wasn’t able to do that tonight. The lack of effort on defense was inexcusable. The team allowed 20 points more than their season average. When a team is struggling as badly on offense as this team is, you can’t afford to take nights off on defense.
- Russell Westbrook needs to take control of his team: Russell Westbrook has a lot more help and a lot more talent around him this season. That being said, he needs to take control and be the leader of this team. The game plan isn’t connecting from the coaches to the players, which means Westbrook needs to step in and be the translator. At the end of the day, this is his team. These guys came here to play with Russ. It’s time for everything to run through Westbrook both on the court and off.
- Billy Donovan is running out of time: I’m not saying the guy needs to be fired immediately, but time certainly isn’t working in his favor. The Thunder are now 20 games into the season, and to say it’s been a let down might be an understatement. Donovan said after tonight’s game that his guys aren’t listening to him. It’s quite possible that his players have checked out on him. It doesn’t seem like his guys are playing for him. Perhaps, if things don’t change soon, it may be time for this team to be under new leadership in the locker room.
Back to the Peake on Friday
The Thunder will return to OKC on Friday for a much needed home game. They will face the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7:00 PM CST. The game will be televised on NBATV, FSOK, and will be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. The Thunder has lost two close games to Minnesota this year, so a win on Friday would be a great way for this team to bounce back.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.