OKC Follows Three-Game Road Skid With Home Loss
By A. Suave Francisco
Oklahoma City is coming off a three-game road losing streak, looking for redemption in front of their home crowd against the first team that beat them on their last road trip. The Portland TrailBlazers are currently eight games under .500 and one-and-a-half games out of the playoffs but continue to orchestrate the right gameplan to beat the Thunder. For the third time this season they edge past Oklahoma City, this time weathering the storm called Russell Westbrook and outscoring his team 126-121 for the game.
Tonight felt like one of the most frustrating losses for the Thunder this year. Not only because they lost to the same team three times in one season (twice in a week), but because Russell Westbrook had the best scoring night of his career with 58 points and they still managed to lose to a team that has struggled to get through the season. Westbrook had one of his best shooting performances of the season, shooting 21-for-39 (53.8 percent) from the field while adding 9 assists. The team didn't play nearly as well on the offensive, and especially the defensive side of the ball, obviously, giving up 126 points on 55.3 percent shooting, including 47.8 percent from three.
Victor Oladipo was the second leading scorer for the Thunder with 16 points and Enes Kanter was the third and the last player in double-figures with 11 points while adding 7 rebounds. This was Oladipo's first game back after he missed six-straight games due to back spasms and Kanter comes off the bench. Although it's a great sign seeing these two guys play well, one must wonder what has happened to Steven Adams?
Adams scored just 4 points and pulled down 3 rebounds in 28 minutes. As a seven-foot center that's known for getting rebounds, it seems impossible not to rebound the ball. As a starter, I'd like to think this is unacceptable to Billy Donovan and Westbrook. Adams has scored under 10 points in 3 of the four games during this losing streak and failed to rebound in double figures in three of the four games as well. Kanter recorded a double-double in two of the four and scored in double figures in every one. To an unbiased opinion, Kanter should start and Adams should be the one coming off the bench.
Andre Roberson was one of the few positive impacts in the game on both ends of the floor. He scored 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting and added 6 rebounds. On paper, that didn't put much of a dent in the 121-point total, but without his defense, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard may have combined for 60 points, instead of just 43 and they may have shot a combined 50 percent from the field, instead of 43.5 percent. Players like Roberson aren't so much appreciated until they aren't on the court. You could see the defensive let-down in the 13 minutes he rested on the bench.
OKC doesn't have much time to ponder on what they did wrong during this loss other than knowing they have to step up their defense and they need more balanced scoring. They should know if Westbrook would've had his average game, they would've gotten completely blown out. Nevertheless, they are now expected to bounce back and hopefully snap their longest losing streak of the season against the second-best team in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday at home. OKC drops to (35-29) and still remains just one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for sixth in the Western Conference.