Streaky Thunder Try To Get Back In Win Column Against Woeful Pelicans
By Randy Renner
Nothing better to cure what ails you (if you're a basketball team that is) than going up against an undermanned opponent that's 1-10 and likely missing a superstar player.
That's exactly what the Thunder have in front of them tonight when the New Orleans Pelicans come in on the second night of a back-to-back that's already been costly.
The Pelicans stumbling 1-10 start has mostly been due to a rash of injuries and here in Oklahoma City we can certainly relate to that.
Superstar power forward Anthony Davis who had just returned from a hip injury, hurt his shoulder last night in the Pelicans 115-98 home loss to Denver.
"I didn't see the injury so I can't tell you his status," coach Alvin Gentry told the Pelicans' official website after the game. "I'm not sure how he injured his shoulder, we'll have to take a look at the tape and see what happened. We will have to see how he's feeling and if he can even play against Oklahoma City."
Omer Asik was a late scratch last night because of a stomach illness, so 6-8 Dante Cunningham started at center. The Pelicans also were without Tyreke Evans (right knee), Quincy Pondexter (left knee), Norris Cole (left ankle) and former Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (pectoral injury), all of whom have been out long term.
The Thunder are also dealing with an injured superstar. Kevin Durant says his strained left hamstring is feeling much better but KD is not expected to play tonight. Friday night's home game against the New York Knicks is a possibility but Durant and the team are contentto take things slowly as he recovers from the injury.
The Thunder, now 6-5, have lost two straight and are coming off a disappointing 122-114 loss in Memphis on Monday. Superstar point guard Russell Westbrook scored 40 points on 13-for-19 shooting with 14 assists. He also matched a season high with eight turnovers.
"Unfortunately it didn't work out for the best, but we'll get back to work and get ready for Wednesday," Westbrook told reporters after the game.
Westbrook has averaged 6.0 turnovers along with 29.3 points, 10.0 assists and 8.3 rebounds while Durant has been out.
Head coach Billy Donovan was happier with the offensive effort after Boston held the Thunder to just 85 points on Sunday night. OKC shot 38.5 percent and 28.0 from 3-point range in the first two games without Durant before a 50.6 overall shooting mark and a 10-for-24 effort from beyond the arc versus the Grizzlies.
"We did a much better job," Donovan said. "We had better ball movement. We got it from one side to the other. We had some shots and we did not make that was the right look and the right pass. We were improved in that area."
Defense though went down the tubes again, especially late.
The wounded Pelicans may not be able to put up much of a fight and they may be just what the Thunder need to get back on track.
Tipoff is set for 7:15 tonight on both Fox Sports Oklahoma and ESPN. Be sure to check our Twitter feed page for updates from shootaround and any pregame notes.