Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder Fails to Finish in Loss to Nuggets

Zachary Low

zacharylow88

The Rundown

The Oklahoma City Thunder entered Friday night just one win away from clinching a playoff spot, but the Denver Nuggets had other plans as they defeated the Thunder 115-105. OKC trailed by only 4 points at the half, and with 6:40 left in the third period, the Thunder had it all tied up with Denver at 68-68. The Nuggets took off from there, however, to score 8 straight, and the Thunder was unable to trim the deficit to lower than 6 points the rest of the way.

Sharing is Caring

Without a doubt, the Thunder is at its very best when sharing the basketball. Against the Pacers on Wednesday, OKC dished out 29 assists, the thirteenth time this season that the Thunder has reached that total. In those games, OKC is 10-3.

It looked like OKC was off to another terrific night of moving the ball as the Thunder racked up 7 assists in the opening quarter–6 of them from Rusell Westbrook–but the ball movement slowed as the game went on, and the effect it had on the offense was evident.

The Thunder had just 12 assists through the final three quarters to finish with 19 total, which is simply not enough to consistently get wins, especially against a 50-win team like the Denver Nuggets.

In 19 games this season when tallying 19 or fewer assists, Oklahoma City is a measly 9-10. The ball has to move more effectively, or the odds of the Thunder picking up a win decrease significantly.

PG’s Shoulder Soreness is Concerning

Coming into tonight’s matchup, Paul George was listed as questionable due to left shoulder soreness. His status remained unknown up until shortly before tip-off when he was finally announced as available and in the starting line up. George has not shot particularly well since the All-Star Break, and his slow starts have affected the Thunder in a big way.

Tonight, George started the game 6-18 (33.3%) from the floor–including 0-5 (0.0%) from 3–through the first three-and-a-half quarters. He finally hit his first three of the game with 7:56 left in the game, which seemed to get things going for him. Including that make, he went 4-4 (100.0%) the rest of the game to finish 10-22 (45.5%).

Simply put, the Thunder needs Paul George to start hitting shots long before the middle of the fourth quarter, or it’s going to be a rough end to the regular season and a quick exit from the playoffs.

Thunder Player of the Game

Russell Westbrook opened up the game with a solid first quarter by recording 6 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds, and he did everything he could in the final frame to keep the Thunder in the game. Despite the loss, Westbrook finished with a team-high 27 points on 11-22 (50.0%) from the field, but only 1-5 (20.0%) from 3. He did have a decent night at the free throw line, making 4-5 (80.0%), and he recorded 9 assists, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals. If Westbrook can continue shooting at a high percentage, the Thunder will be in a good position moving forward.

Sunday Showdown with the Mavs

The Thunder continues their home stand with a matinee matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon. The Thunder is 1-2 (1-0 at home, 0-2 on the road) against the Mavs, but with Dallas out of the playoffs, OKC has a little bit more reason to play for the win. Tip-off is set for 2:30 PM and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.

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3 Comments

  1. Tough loss but this was the most difficult game of this home stand. If OKC can go 4-1 over the home stand then they’ll be just fine.

    1. I agree. A win last night would have been nice, but overall, I thought the Thunder played pretty well. Denver hit some ridiculous shots, and OKC couldn’t hit some wide open ones. That aside, they looked much improved compared to the last few weeks.

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