The Oklahoma City Thunder (20-16) saw their 5-game winning streak come to an end Monday night as they dropped a 120-113 decision on the road to the Philadelphia 76ers (24-14).
The Thunder opened up the game in terrific fashion as they knocked down 4-of-9 (44.4%) from deep in the first quarter, but the Sixers shot pretty well themselves as they managed to make 4-of-6 (66.7%) from three. At the end of the first period, it was all tied up at 31-31.
The second quarter was a different story as OKC settled for questionable shots beyond the arc. The Thunder made just 2-of-7 (28.6%) from three in the period, which included 4 consecutive misses in just 1:16 of gameplay. Philly, on the other hand, kept up their hot shooting by sinking 4-of-8 (50.0%) from deep.
Not only did the Thunder go cold shooting the ball, but they also turned it over 6 times in the quarter. The Sixers took advantage by scoring 8 points off those turnovers, which helped Philadelphia to a 62-52 advantage at the half.
The third quarter opened with 4 straight points by the 76ers to take a 14-point lead—their largest of the evening. It didn’t last, however, as the Thunder managed to claw back into the game piece by piece by knocking down more threes—5-of-8 (62.5%) for the period—and by getting to the free throw line. OKC shot 8-of-11 (72.7%) from the charity stripe in the third, which allowed the Thunder to outscore the Sixers by 6 in the quarter to cut the deficit to 90-86 headed into the final frame.
In typical fashion, the Thunder kept the game close, and it appeared as if they just might pull off another double-digit comeback. With just 4 minutes to play, OKC cut the deficit to 2 points, something they had done multiple times in the period, but they could not knock down free throws, and Philadelphia would not relent. An 11-2 run put the Sixers up 115-106 with under a minute to play.
OKC tried to figure out a comeback, but it just wasn’t in the cards, and Philly was able to pull out the 120-113 win.
Enough with the 3-Point Competition
The Thunder found themselves falling into old habits once again as they fell in love with the three ball after knocking down a few shots from deep in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the shots did not fall as easily in the second quarter, and then after shooting well again in the third, they managed to make just 1-of-5 (20.0%) in the fourth.
Philadelphia, however, was extremely hot from deep as they sank 13-of-26 (50.0%). Tobias Harris hit 4-of-6 (66.7%) to lead the Sixers, but 6 other guys hit at least 1 three, including 3 players who hit 2.
OKC is a bottom-10 three-point shooting team, and regardless of the fact that Philly is just outside the top 10, the Thunder has no business getting into a three-point shooting contest with anyone. OKC has some solid shooters, but unfortunately, they haven’t been able to hit as a team with any real consistency, and when they try to outshoot opponents, it rarely ends well for the boys in blue.
Free Throws, Free Throws, Free Throws
The Thunder has seen a solid improvement at the free throw line this season. After ranking in the bottom 5 of the entire league in free throw percent for the last 3 seasons, OKC is in the top 10 so far this season, knocking down 79.0% percent of attempts from the charity stripe.
Not only is the Thunder knocking down a high percentage of free throws, but OKC is also shooting a high volume. At 25.2 attempts per game, the Thunder is 7th in the NBA at getting to the free throw line.
In spite of these quality free throw shooting numbers, OKC did not perform well from the line tonight. Despite getting to shoot 31 free throws, the Thunder made just 21 of them. 67.7% from the charity stripe is unacceptable on any night, but missing double-digit free throws in a single-digit game is going to end in a loss more often than not.
Give It Up for the Kiwi
Not everything went poorly tonight. The Thunder picked up a major contribution on the night from Steven Adams, who finished the game with 24 points on 9-of-14 (64.3%) from the floor and 7-of-9 (77.8%) from the free throw line. He also pulled down 15 rebounds and blocked 2 shots.
Adams has been playing some of his best basketball lately, and it has largely gone unnoticed due to the quality play of his teammates. The ability for Adams to step up and have a big game on any given night bodes well for the Thunder in the future.
Finishing the Road Trip in Brooklyn
The Thunder has one more game in the current 4-game road trip as they take on the Brooklyn Nets (16-19) Tuesday night for the second game of a back-to-back. The Nets are riding a 6-game losing streak, and they are still without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Oh, and Brooklyn is also playing in the second game of a back-to-back after losing 101-89 to the Orlando Magic (17-20) on the road.
Tip-off for the game is at 6:30 PM, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma and NBA TV. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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