Inconsistent, But Short-Handed Thunder Lose in Ciudad de México
By: A. Suave Francisco
Paul George and Jerami Grant sat out for Oklahoma City's matchup in Mexico City against the (9-13) Brooklyn Nets and although everyone knew they'd be short-handed, no one expected a 100-95 loss to be the result.
The problem started with both Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony who dually struggled from the floor, combining for 15-of-47 shooting on the night. This was Carmelo's first game with 20 shot attempts since OKC went on their three-game winning streak and there is a direct correlation between Anthony's shot attempts and OKC's success, clearly.
Since George was out, Anthony had the green light to shoot the ball because frankly, the Thunder needed the scoring production. However, his shot selection was still questionable and the timing of the shots was unorthodox and to make things worse, he shot 0-for-4 from three-point range and a measly 1-of-6 from the free throw line, although he's an above-80 percent free throw shooter.
For Westbrook, it was a typical game that we've seen many times when he's just trying to do too much. Shooting only 10-for-27, finishing with 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, he got his stat-line, but his efficiency was a clear deficiency on Thursday night's game.
Through 24 games, Westbrook's shooting percentage is at it's lowest since he was 20 years old, flirting around 40 percent. His three-point percentage for the season hasn't been good either, by any stretch at 31 percent.
Efficiency was the problem for the Thunder as a whole, who shot 38.8 percent from the field, 29.2 percent from three, and 52.2 percent from the free throw line. They are actually 28th in the league from the line, shooting just over 72 percent for the season.
The only real bright spot for the Thunder tonight, in surprising fashion, was their bench, who combined for 29 points on 12-of-25 shooting (48 percent), without their leading scorer, Jerami Grant. Kyle Singler hasn't contributed much on the court this season but scrounged up 9 points, as well as Raymond Felton, who shot 50 percent on the night.
The Oklahoma City Thunder lack energy, aggressiveness, emotion and most importantly, consistency. There will be games where they look like they've finally figured things out, against some of the NBA's best teams, then they'll play a game like they did on Thursday, where they lose to some of the worst. Thier three-game winning streak has been snapped and they've fallen to (11-14) on the season.
Billy Donovan didn't have much to work with after two very essential players had to sit out due to injury but just like the entire season, his rotations were very suspect in crucial situations and that also played a part in the loss, as well as many others.
Oklahoma City will play the Memphis Grizzlies (8-16) on Saturday and although they shouldn't have a hard time winning that game, this team is as unpredictable as ever.