Thunder Working On Defense For Second Spain Game

By Randy Renner, Senior Writer

Thunder center Steven Adams won’t play in today’s game against FC Barcelona in Spain after suffering what the team is calling a sprained ankle in the first half of Monday’s loss to Real Madrid.

The Thunder have also announced backup point guard Cameron Payne, who didn’t make the trip because of the broken foot he suffered in the Blue/White scrimmage, has decided not to have surgery to repair the injury.

He has an acute impact fracture of the fifth metatarsal on his right foot. Some players opt to have surgery and some don’t. 76ers rookie Ben Simmons is believed to have a very similar injury and has decided to have surgery. Simmons is expected to miss at least three months. Payne hopes to be able to play in about a third of that time.

The Thunder practiced in Barcelona yesterday and the focus was mostly on defense. That end of the floor became a problem in the second half and overtime of the Madrid game when the host team lit it up from beyond the 3-point arc.

Head coach Billy Donovan said the biggest issues appeared to be players late on rotations and close outs.

“I think if you look at our deep paint defense, it was really, really good,” he told reporters. “But then we got caught reacting to situations and getting pulled in and then what ended up happening was reacting back out (to the perimeter) we got put in some bad situations whether it was them shooting threes or them driving on us and creating a three for the next pass. That was without question an area we need to be better at.”

Real Madrid hit 54.1 percent of the 37 threes it put up. The Spanish team shot 58 percent overall so clearly the Thunder need to get better but also remember Adams didn’t play at all in the second half and Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson played just sparingly.

Plus it was just the first “real” game played by a group of guys still learning about each other’s game.

The key is Adams’ ankle injury. If it lingers and causes Big Kiwi to miss significant time, progress on the defensive end will be slow in coming.

Tipoff for today’s game is set for 1:30 Oklahoma time and it can be seen on NBA-TV.