By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
The Oklahoma City Thunder lost Steven Adams to a sprained ankle in the first half, lost containment out on the perimeter in the second half and then lost their preseason opening game to Real Madrid 142-137 in overtime.
The loss of Adams, who appeared to come down on a player’s foot and roll his ankle late in the first half, is the most concerning. The Thunder are officially calling it a sprained ankle, but it will likely be sometime tomorrow before we know just how bad it might be. Adams did not have to be helped off the court, which is at least a good sign.
The Thunder defense struggled without Big Kiwi in the second half and overtime when Real Madrid scored a whopping 92 points. Of course since it is the preseason there’s no guarantee Adams would have been in the game late anyway had he been healthy.
Real Madrid is known for its 3-point shooting and guys from Spain hit 20 of their 37 shots from beyond the arc, most coming in the second half.
The Thunder had plenty of good moments too. Victor Oladipo had several highlight reel dunks, leading the team with 34 points. Enes Kanter added 29 and 10 rebounds. Russell Westbrook just played 22 minutes but he made the most of his time scoring 18 points, while handing out four assists, grabbing three rebounds and getting three steals.
Rookie Alex Abrines had a rousing return to his home country. He played the last few seasons for FC Barcelona, the team OKC plays next and Real Madrid’s biggest rival. So fans tended to both heckle and cheer him. And he responded by hitting two big 3s in the last couple minutes of the 4th quarter. He finished with 12 points, all coming from deep where he was 4-for-5.
Just like in the Blue/White scrimmage Billy Donovan went with a starting lineup of Westbrook, Oladipo, Andre Roberson, Adams and rookie Domantas Sabonis.
Sabonis played well at times but made some crucial mistakes coming down the stretch on defense. The killer was fouling out trying to defend a 3-point shot with the Thunder leading 126-121 in the last seconds of regulation. The Madrid player made the first two shots, missed the third intentionally and the rebound went to Madrid sharp-shooter Sergio Llull who hit his third buzzer beating 3-ball of the game to send the contest to overtime.
It was a wildly entertaining game but at the same time there’s concern for Adams’ ankle and the clear need for the Thunder to keep working on that perimeter defense.
Next up, the Thunder go to Barcelona for a Wednesday afternoon game, tipoff at 1:30 Oklahoma time on NBATV.