Another Bad Fourth Quarter Dooms Thunder
By Randy Renner
So have you heard the one about how the Thunder seem to think they’re a hockey team? Yeah cuz, you know, they only play three periods.
Not laughing? I understand, I’m not either.
But there is something to the bit about the Thunder pulling a Houdini style disappearing act when the fourth quarter rolls around.
Last night in Oakland the Thunder defense walked to the team bus early allowing the Golden State Warriors to score a whopping 39 points on 63.2 percent shooting to notch a come from behind 121-106 win.
The Thunder of course had a lead going into the fourth quarter making the 10th time this season and the second straight night, they’ve lost a game when leading going into the last 12 minutes.
In those last two fourth quarters in Oakland Thursday night and in Los Angeles the night before the Thunder were outscored 74-38.
The Thunder players didn’t quite seem as distraught after the Warriors defeat as they did following the Clippers meltdown. Kevin Durant talked about giving games away because of a lack of discipline Wednesday night, saying players were “fooling themselves.”
Last night Russell Westbrook said, “We feel better about ourselves today,” and the Thunder again played the Warriors pretty tough into the third quarter, leading 80-71 after a Serge Ibaka 3-ball with a tad under five minutes to go in that stanza.
And even after the Thunder lost the lead in the fourth quarter they were down just a bucket, 99-97, after a Westbrook basket and free throw with 6:02 to play.
But the Warriors finished the game on a 22-9 run to put the Thunder away and sweep all three games of the season series.
Durant ended up with 32 points, Westbrook had 22 and Ibaka added 20 for the Thunder, who have lost six of eight since the All-Star break.
"We've definitely got to get it under control," Durant said. "I'm not happy with the way we're playing. Obviously we want to win, but this is where you see what you're made of."
These last two games Durant has had problems holding onto the basketball. He had six turnovers in the Clipper loss and he had nine last night making 15 in the last two games.
The Thunder schedule has become much tougher and real life has tossed plenty of life altering distractions into the team’s path toward success. But now time is running out to fix things.
"How many games we got left? 20?" Durant asked. "20 games to go before the playoffs. That's when the real season starts, so we want to play good basketball at the right time and keep grinding it out. That's what it's all about."
But can you play good basketball when the “real season” starts when you haven’t played good basketball consistently for very many of the 82 games that came before?
I guess we’ll find out soon enough.