Oklahoma City Thunder

Second-Half Struggles Leave OKC Facing Elimination

Zachary Low

zacharylow88

The Oklahoma City Thunder trailed by just 3 points at halftime against the Houston Rockets in Game 5 on Saturday night, but a plethora of issues turned the game into a blowout as Houston picked up the easy 114-80 victory to take a 3-2 series lead.

Offensive Offense

This was easily one of the Thunder’s worst games of the 2019-20 campaign. OKC couldn’t find the bottom of the net, they couldn’t take care of the ball, and when it came down to it, Houston simply looked like not just the better team, but the only team that cared to show up for the game.

The Thunder averaged near 30 attempts from downtown in the regular season, but tonight they decided to fire off 45 of them. They only made 7, which ends up being the second-worst percent from three (15.6%) of OKC’s season.

To make matters worse, the Thunder finished just 15-of-27 (55.6%) in the restricted area and 17-of-36 (47.2%) in the paint overall. Those numbers are well below where they should be, but the inability to get shots to fall was just the beginning.

OKC racked up 18 turnovers, 7 more than Houston, and the Rockets turned those mistakes into 20 points. Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari had 4 mistakes apiece, and when your starters don’t play well, it’s hard to expect your bench to do so as well.

Speaking of the bench, they outscored the starters 41 to 39. Shai and Gallinari struggled to combine for just 5 points on 2-of-13 (15.4%) from the field, and that played a major role in the Thunder offense not holding up.

Dennis Schröder’s Untimely Ejection

The second half got off to a rocky start, and before OKC knew what was going on, they were down by 11 just a couple of minutes into the third quarter. Dennis Schröder checked into the game, hoping to pick up where he left off in the first half with 19 points, but that was not the case.

Just a few minutes later, Schröder tried to run through a moving screen by P.J. Tucker, and it was all downhill from there. Schröder made contact with Tucker’s downstairs, and whether it was intentional or incidental, who knows. What happened next was Tucker walked over to give Schröder an earful and ended up giving him a head butt.

The result was ejections for both, and while the game was pretty much in hand at that point, what with Houston leading by 18 points, this didn’t do OKC any favors.

Thunder Player of the Game

A guy who has been given very little love in this series, but is definitely deserving of it for his efforts tonight, is Steven Adams. The Big Kiwi put up 12 points on 6-of-8 (75.0%) from the floor while pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds, including 8 on the offensive end of the floor.

Adams has been exposed in this series due to Houston’s small stature and speed, but he made a living down low taking advantage of his height and strength. If his fellow starters can get their act together for Game 6, and if he can replicate his performance tonight, the Thunder will have a good chance to force a Game 7.

On the Brink of Elimination

The Thunder gets another chance to extend the series on Monday as they face off against the Rockets for Game 6. More than 82% of teams who have won Game 5 after being tied 2-2 in the series have gone on to win the series, but OKC loves a good comeback, and they have already won 2 games in a row once this series.

Tip-off for Monday’s game has yet to be determined, as it depends upon the outcome of the Lakers-Blazers matchup, but unless Portland pulls out a miracle, Thunder fans can expect to watch OKC take on Houston at 8 PM. Either way the game will be televised on TNT and Fox Sports Oklahoma, and it will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.

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