By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
The problem that’s plagued the Thunder off and on all season hit them smack in the face again last night leading to a disappointing 96-86 loss at Minnesota.
Inconsistency is what we’re talking about.
Sometimes it’s a game to game problem, look good one game and then everything falls apart the next. Last night it was half to half.
In the first half the Thunder scored 50 points on 44 percent shooting. Russell Westbrook had 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting plus seven rebounds and seven assists.
In the second half though, the Thunder managed just 36 points on 32.4 percent shooting overall and 8.3 percent (1-for-12) on threes. Westbrook managed just five points on 1-for-13 shooting (0-for-7 on threes).
Minnesota broke loose with a 16-4 run midway through the 3rd quarter and then a knockout 13-0 run into the 4th quarter for 51 points on 47.6 percent shooting in the second half to secure the win. The T-Wolves also took advantage of 11 Thunder turnovers scoring 25 points off those givebacks in the 2nd half.
“We had an opportunity. It went back and forth there for a few minutes and the score was tied,” head coach Billy Donovan noted after the game. “They kind of broke it open there midway through the third and then going into the fourth.”
Westbrook finished with his 19th triple-double of the season (the most in a season since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976) with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. It’s just the fourth time this season the Thunder have lost when Westbrook records a triple-double.
Russ’ biggest problem was he actually had a quadruple-double because he also turned the ball over 10 times.
“They were just some miscues. They were my fault on my passes,” Westbrook admitted. “Some were open, some weren’t. It happens, I can take it.”
Say what you will about the Thunder superstar point guard but he’s never had a problem admitting when he hasn’t played as well as he should have and those turnovers certainly contributed to the loss and so did his shooting woes in the second half.
The trouble is, with this team, the Thunder pretty much need to have Westbrook play at an All-Star level all the time.
In the second half when he wasn’t at his best no one else stepped up to take over on the offensive end.
“The difference in the game for us offensively was on put backs, transition points at the rim and shots in the deep paint,” Donovan explained. “We left way too many points out there. That stuff comes back to concentration and focus and if you do miss them, being able to put those behind you and move to the next thing that is in front of you.”
Instead the offensive struggles lingered and began to impact the defense too.
“Over a period of time our offensive struggles started to wane into our defense a little bit,” Donovan said. “But for the most part I thought we defended pretty well.”
This was just the first of six straight road games for OKC. The Thunder head out west to play Sacramento, the Clippers and Golden State before returning home for a few days for practice then going back on the road to Utah and New Orleans before hosting Dallas on the 26th.