By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
The Thunder’s “January Journeys” are off to a bumpy start after OKC blew a 15-point first half lead and went stone cold coming down the stretch in Milwaukee.
The final result was a 98-94 loss in a game the Thunder should have won.
Oklahoma City got off to a blazing start, shooting 70.6 percent in the 1st quarter and leading by as many as 15 points.
By halftime the Thunder had cooled off only slightly, shooting 59.5 percent but everything turned around in the final 24 minutes.
The Thunder missed 14 of their 18 shots, Russell Westbrook missed all eight of his and all of a sudden the team was headed the wrong way on a slippery slope.
The chances were there in the 4th quarter but the Thunder managed just two points in the last 4:04 of the game.
After the Thunder controlled a jump ball down two with 3:07 to play Westbrook launched a 27-foot jumper just six seconds into the shot clock. That was the first of four misses in five attempts for the Thunder superstar to closeout the game.
That one make was the only shot the Thunder could hit in the last three minutes. Steven Adams missed a layup, Alex Abrines missed a jumper, adding up to just 1-for-7 as a team in the clutch.
The Bucks weren’t any better going 1-for-3 in the same time frame with a couple of turnovers (both Westbrook steals). The difference was Milwaukee managed to get to the free throw line and go 3-for-4 to secure the win.
The Thunder still had life with less than 10 seconds to play and down a bucket. Westbrook drove but lost the handle on the ball. It looked for a moment like it had gone out of bounds off of Bucks guard Tony Snell and that was the initial ruling by the officials.
Replay overturned that decision wiping any realistic chance the Thunder had in the closing seconds.
“That was the play, to drive,” Westbrook said after the game. “You can’t waste time (looking for other options) if you’re down two. That don’t make sense.”
Westbrook missed two early shot clock threes coming down the stretch. Head coach Billy Donovan was asked about his point guard’s shot selection at that juncture.
“I thought he had some good decent 3-point shots, I thought he had some good pull-up shots,” Donovan said. “Those are shots Russell practices every day. It's shots he's worked on. It's shots that's made him the player he is. A lot of his shots were shots he's more than capable of making.”
This time he didn’t and the Thunder lost a game they should have won.