A Cali Collapse By Thunder
By Randy Renner
The Thunder are known for bouncing back in a big way from bad losses, seldom have they put together two straight stinkers since that first season in Oklahoma City back in 2008-09.
Last night in Sacramento though was one of those rare games.
After being blown out by Golden State on Monday night the Thunder drove off into the ditch again last night and were blown out by a struggling Kings team 104-83.
This marked the first time all season that Oklahoma City lost back-to-back games with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the lineup. The Thunder had won nine of 11 with their two stars healthy before the losses to Golden State and Sacramento.
"We just have to move on," Durant said. "We don't come in here to pop champagne bottles when we win. So we can't panic because we lost."
Westbrook was completely outplayed by his former UCLA teammate Darren Collison. Westbrook shot just 3-for-19 and had seven turnovers, while Collison made a career high five 3-pointers.
The debut of newly acquired shooting guard Dion Waiters wasn't very impressive. Waiters scored just four points on 1-for-9 shooting.
As you've perhaps guessed, hitting shots was a big problem last night for the Thunder.
Two nights after shooting an anemic 31 percent in that loss at Golden State, the Thunder were still searching for their shooting stroke. Oklahoma City missed 14 straight shots in the first quarter to fall behind 25-7.
Westbrook missed six of his first seven shots, scoring on an emphatic dunk, and Durant missed four of his first five as the Thunder started the game 2-for-21. They finished shooting only slightly better (32.6 percent) than they did on Monday.
The Thunder defense was better, at least in some areas. The Kings were held to just 39.1 percent shooting overall. Generally that ought to be plenty good enough, but the Thunder didn't defend the 3-point line very well and the Kings took advantage hitting 10 of their 19 attempts (52.6 percent).
The Thunder jacked up 30 threes and made just nine and they also managed just 16 assists while turning the ball over a whopping 24 times. Those numbers will generally get you beat.
"We found the good shots but couldn't hit them tonight," Durant said. "When you get down 25-7 that's when you start to rush and turn the ball over. So we have to go back to the drawing board and get our next one."
That next one comes up Friday night back inside The Peake when the Utah Jazz come in for a visit.
The Jazz are actually playing a little better right now than Sacramento was, having won six of their last 10 games.
After Friday the Thunder catch a break in the schedule that apparently is coming at a good time. They won't play again until a road game in Houston on Thursday night so they'll be able to string together some good practice sessions to get Waiters more familiar with the Thunder's offensive and defensive sets and schemes and get used to playing with his new teammates.
These two bad games come on the heels or two really good showings against Phoenix and Washington that finally got the Thunder to .500 on the season. They appeared poised to make a run, but instead walked right off a cliff.