The Oklahoma City Thunder dropped a fourth game in a row on Sunday afternoon, this time to the Los Angeles Lakers 108-104. Oklahoma City had moments where it looked like they could blow open a lead, but in the end, the youthful energy of the Lakers proved to be too much for a seemingly fatigued Thunder squad.
The Thunder got off to another slow start today, and while it is easy to blame the early tip-off, there is no excuse for a lack of effort coming out of the gate. The Lakers jumped out to a 12-4 lead just four-and-a-half minutes into the game, but Oklahoma City was able to keep it close due to Russell Westbrook’s eight points and three assists. After 12 minutes, the Lakers held a narrow 25-22 advantage over the Thunder.
The second quarter started off a little better for Oklahoma City, and two minutes in, the Thunder took a 29-27 lead. It didn’t last long, though, as the Lakers immediately took it back, and the back and the forth game continued. Westbrook continued to lead the way for Oklahoma City, scoring eight more points, while Paul George added five, and Steve Adams added four in the quarter. At halftime, however, Los Angeles remained on top of the Thunder 49-51.
The Thunder needed to come out strong out of halftime and turn this game around, and after tying it up on the opening offensive possession, they would allow the Lakers to go on a 9-2 run to open it back up. Oklahoma City was able to fight back and retake a lead in the last few minutes of the period, but with less than a minute left in the quarter, Los Angeles got back on top. Despite Westbrook’s 14-point and four assist third quarter, along with George’s eight points in the period, the Lakers entered the final twelve minutes of the game with an 82-79 lead over the Thunder.
The fourth quarter was do or die for the Thunder, and it was all die to start as Oklahoma City made only one of nine attempts and then three of 16 through the first seven minutes. The Thunder finish 6/13 in the final five minutes, and Paul George managed to score seven of his nine fourth quarter points in the final 2:30 of the game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Lakers.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Time for Change: It’s easy to get dramatic and freak out after losing four straight games, especially after winning eight straight, but something definitely needs to change. The defense is desperately missing Andre Roberson, but he is not coming back this season, so some type of major adjustment needs to be made. The trade deadline is just a few days away, so there is not telling what Sam Presti has up his sleeve, but whether a major move is made or not, Oklahoma City has to lock in and own some of the responsibility of making up for what they are missing with the absence of Roberson.
- Perimeter Problems: No matter what side of the ball you look at it, the Thunder has struggled with the three-point line. For the fifth game in a row, Oklahoma City made less than a third of three point attempts, and for the third consecutive game, the Thunder allowed the opponent to make at least 13 threes. This one area of basketball is hurting the Thunder far more than it should, and when it comes down it, Oklahoma City simply needs to take better shots on the offensive end and lock in on the defensive end. Taking care of the simple things can make a world of a difference, but if the Thunder cannot do these things, they very well could continue losing these close games against lesser teams.
- Melo Needs Modification: Carmelo Anthony’s slump as of late has been a bad one. He’s not taking good shots, he’s not making hardly any shots, and his defense is inexcusable. In the last eight games, he has shot over 40% just one time. While he should not necessarily come off the bench, he has to play a more efficient role in order for this Thunder squad to be successful in the long run.
Onward to Oracle
The Oklahoma City Thunder now head to Oakland, California where they will take on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. The Thunder defeated the Warriors handily 108-91 earlier in the season, and the two teams will meet twice this month, both meetings in Oakland. The Warriors are 41-12, but six of their losses have come at home, which is more than they have had in any of the last three seasons when they have made it to the Finals. Tip-off is set for 9:30 PM CT and will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on WWLS 98.1 FM.
Don’t forget to check out the latest episode of Thunder Things With the Thunder Guys.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter & Instagram, and like us on Facebook.