Thunder Melts Down in Boston

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s six-game winning streak came to a devastating end as they dropped a 100-99 loss to the Celtics in Boston despite leading by five points with 16.8 seconds to go.

The Boston Celtics were severely shorthanded tonight due to injury, but the Thunder did not take advantage like they should have. After playing a back-and-forth game for the first half of the first quarter, the Thunder went on a 12-2 run to take a 10-point lead with a little over two minutes left in the period. Paul George and Steven Adams would lead Oklahoma City with eight points and three rebounds apiece, and Russell Westbrook would chime in with five points and three rebounds to give the Thunder a 26-18 lead after one period

The Celtics quickly fought back in the second quarter to make things close again, and with four-and-a-half minutes left in the first half, Boston took the 37-36 lead. The Thunder would turn things back on to finish the second period strong shooting 10/19 from the floor to take a 48-45 lead into the locker room at the half.

The Thunder kicked off the third quarter lacking energy, but Russell Westbrook went to work trying to take over the game as he had a team-high 12 points in the period to go along with three more rebounds. Paul George added in six more points and five rebounds, but the Thunder struggled from the free throw line, making only 6/11 (54.5%). Despite the rough quarter, Oklahoma City led Boston 75-73 at the end of the third.

The fourth quarter was a tale of two storylines for Oklahoma City. After leading for the first five minutes of the period, Boston retook the lead to go on top 82-81 with under seven minutes to play. Nobody scored from the floor over the next three minutes when Paul George hit a three to take the lead back for the Thunder. Oklahoma City would hold on to the lead from that point forward, leading by as many as six with 17 seconds left before the Celtics would hit clutch shot after clutch shot. With just under two seconds left, Marcus Morris hit a three to give Boston the 100-99 lead. Russell Westbrook put up a shot at the buzzer, but it was no good, and the Thunder’s winning streak came stumbling to an end.

3 Quick Thoughts

  • YGTMYFT: You’ve Got To Make Your Free Throws! Simply put, the Thunder lost this game at the free throw line. Carmelo Anthony will receive a lot of hate for choking at the line and missing two attempts with a two-point lead and eight seconds left on the clock, but he wasn’t the only one to miss on the night. Oklahoma City, averaging 71.1% from the free throw line on the season (29th in the NBA), made only 19 of 29 attempts on the night. If the Thunder can shoot even a respectable percentage from the charity stripe, this game isn’t near as dramatic at the end.
  • The Bench Was Bad: Tonight’s performance was probably one of the worst of the entire season for the Thunder bench. Not only were they unable to get much going on the offense end, they were absolutely terrible on the defensive end. Terrance Ferguson was the only bench player to finish with a positive plus-minus (+2). Overall, the second unit did not see the floor all that much, and it was likely because they were getting destroyed when they were actually out there. This team does not stand a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs if the bench cannot perform on a night-to-night basis.
  • Take What You Can Get: Coming into the two-game road trip of Toronto and Boston, it was pretty clear that the Thunder need at least one win of out it, which they got against the Raptors on Sunday. While Oklahoma City most definitely should have won tonight, they have no time to dwell on the loss. With only nine games left in the season, the Thunder cannot afford to look behind: they have to focus on the next one. Tonight’s game ties Oklahoma City in the loss column with the teams in the five through seven spots in the West, so the Thunder are going to have to make up for tonight’s loss in one way or another.

Homeward Bound

The Oklahoma City Thunder is headed home with a few days of rest on the schedule before they host the Miami Heat. The Heat are currently seventh in the East with a 38-33 record, and the Thunder and the Heat face off twice before the end of the season. Tip-off is set for 7 PM CT and will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.

Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter & Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

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