Why does it always have to end like this? Whether it’s Anthony Davis double clutching one in at the buzzer or Stephen Curry shooting it from Gotebo, the Oklahoma City Thunder always seem to succumb to buzzer beaters that should count as 4-pointers.
This time it was Andrew Wiggins unleashing a 35-foot running banker that had MidFirst Bank wondering whether they should give him a $20,000 check or not. It was a shame too, because the Thunder finally started looking like Thunder after a 7-quarter slumber. Between the Utah game and the first three quarters of this game, the Thunder did not look anything like a team that featured three 20-point scorers. Instead they looked like a team that was completely unsure of how it should play with it’s plethora of talent.
But with the Thunder down by 13 heading into the 4th quarter, the light kind of started to turn on over the Thunder’s collective heads. It started with (duh!) getting stops on the defensive end. The Thunder went on a 12-2 run in the first three and a half minutes of the fourth. Once the Thunder brought it down to about 5, it became a game again.
Russell Westbrook entered back into the game at that point and he was not about to do like he did the previous night in Utah. He was not going to let this game go down without a Westbrookian fight. Over the final five minutes of the quarter, Westbrook scored 15 points and assisted on what should have been the game-winning 3-pointer by Carmelo Anthony with 5 seconds left.
Even though the Thunder leave this game with a bad taste in their mouth, they can probably move forward from this one knowing a little bit more about themselves. Westbrook cannot be the floor general all the time. There are going to be times where he has to be the alpha-scorer he was last season. And those times may present themselves more often than he thought they would this season.
That toggling between floor general and take-over scorer will likely be Westbrook’s biggest test all season long. And while he may want to acquiesce to his new teammates, the one thing that will drive them out of town quicker than feeling like secondary role players will be losing.
- If you had Carmelo Anthony in the “Who will take the final shot for the Thunder in a close game” pool at work, congratulations on your free shake coupon to Sonics.
- Free throws are starting to become a thing. First off, the lack of free throws from the Thunder is puzzling. They’ve essentially become a jump-shooting team over night. And if those shots aren’t falling consistently, like we’ve seen the last two games, the Thunder are no longer using the crutch of free throws to make up for it. Last season the Thunder shot 25.8 free throws per game, good for 4th in the league. So far this season, 19 attempts per game, which puts them at 23rd. That is a significant decline.
- Another worrying trend has been Westbrook’s inability to hit free throws. The career 82% free throw shooter is shooting just 55.6% this season. It’s early, I know. But those misses are weird enough to be noticeable.
- Speaking of free throws, yeeeesh! C’mon, Dre.
- Paul George had a bad shooting game tonight. He shot 6-20 (1-8 from 3) and left a ton of them short. But he contributed in other ways, grabbing 6 boards, dishing out 8 assists, and getting 4 steals.
- The play to get Carmelo Anthony the 3-pointer with 5 seconds left was nice. Westbrook acted like he was driving to the lane and Anthony flashed out to the 3-point line when he defender committed to Westbrook. It’s a shame those weren’t the final points of the game.
- Raymond Felton and Jerami Grant were tremendous off the bench for the Thunder. For a second there, Felton was the leading scorer for the Thunder in the first half. He caught fire and kept the team in range while Westbrook rested.
- I think this was the Steven Adams we were expecting last season. Adams scored 17 points and was a monster on the offensive glass, grabbing 13 boards total. He also had 3 assists and 2 blocks. Adams’ best game in a while.
- Josh Huestis played key minutes tonight. Let me say that again, Josh Huestis played key minutes tonight. So, check your lotto numbers and check your floor temperatures to see if hell has frozen over. There might have been a reason why Huestis got minutes tonight.
- Terrance Ferguson suffered an ankle sprain during warm-ups. This season and it’s stupid injuries.
- The young duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins put in work tonight, each pouring in 27 points. Towns had a double-double with 12 boards, and Wiggins, of course, made the game-winner. Such a bright future.
- Jimmy Butler still seems a bit lost with the Timberwolves. Like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, this may take time.
- The Thunder are 1-2, but it’s okay, guys. Ease up off the Devon Energy Tower ledge. Things will get better. Trust me.
- I really enjoyed the game not being chopped up by timeout after timeout. Keeps the intensity of the game at a high. Dude’s better start practicing their half court shots, though.
Up Next: On Wednesday, against the Indiana Pacers at home. Hello, Oladipo and Domas.