Thunder Show Off Worst Defense Of Season In Loss To Mavs
By Randy Renner
You could see this coming...like a runaway freight train rolling down a mountain and the Thunder were helpless to stop it, couldn't even slow it down.
They did manage to almost, almost keep pace with the Dallas Mavericks but in the end Russell Westbrook said "one team decided it wanted to play defense more than the other," and Dallas got those couple of late stops, the Thunder didn't, allowing the Mavs to come away with a thrilling 135-131 win.
It's the most points the Thunder have allowed this season and the Mavs stunning 61.5 percent shooting percentage is the highest the Thunder have given up.
Dallas could not be stopped inside, scoring a whopping 72 points in the paint. A number that left head coach Scott Brooks shaking his head.
"That's just ridiculous, we have to sprinkle in some defensive stops," Brooks said.
Sprinkling in some stops is probably the most this group is capable of. OKC's best defenders couldn't play because of injuries. So without Serge Ibaka to protect the rim and alter shots the Thunder couldn't do much against a Mavs onslaught inside.
As historically bad as the defense was, the Thunder still managed to stay with Dallas to the end. They got 30-point games from three players.
Anthony Morrow lit it up from all over the floor, scoring a game-high 32 points on 11-for-16 shooting. He was 6-for-9 on threes, accounting for more 3-point baskets by himself than the entire Mavs roster managed to hit.
Russell Westbrook got off to a terrible start but finished with his 10th triple-double of the season with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
And Enes Kanter picked up another double-double with a career-high 30 points and 16 rebounds.
Dion Waiters added 19.
So offense wasn't the problem.
Defense was the culprit all the way.
"We didn't get enough stops," Brooks said, "we had plenty of points, we've just got to do a better job getting stops."
How exactly that's going to happen with Ibaka, Andre Roberson, Kevin Durant and Nick Collison on the bench or in hospital beds isn't clear.
Oh and by the way Steven Adams came up limping in the closing seconds and was soaking a sprained right ankle in an ice tub in the Thunder lockerroom after the game.
The loss to Dallas makes it darn near impossible for the Thunder to catch the Mavs for 7th place and it makes it much more realistic the Pelicans could catch the Thunder for the 8th spot.
Oklahoma City goes to Memphis next and we all know what a fun place the Grindhouse can be then it's back home for games against Houston and San Antonio, another couple of teams the Thunder might have a bit of trouble defending.
You never know with this bunch though. They fought and scratched and clawed all night long. They refused to quit until the clock told them it was time.
The effort was there and the offense was plentiful.
The defense though, that's the thing will will take time to get right with so many players still on the injured list.
And of course time is something else the Thunder just don't have, the season ends in two weeks.