Embarrassing Loss for the Thunder in Atlanta: Five Thoughts
By Alberto Bodei, Staff Writer
Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost in a very bad way in Atlanta against the Hawks, 126-142 the final score.
Yes, the Thunder gave up one-hundred-forty-two points to the 29th offensive team in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks.
After a pretty lazy offensive quarter, but good defensively, the Thunder completely disappeared from the floor in the second quarter. The Hawks were able to score at will, out of pick and rolls, penetrations, and from behind the arc. Oklahoma City gave up seventy points in the first half.
As always happened this season, the Thunder bounced back strong in the third quarter, the defense was solid, while the offense was smooth and smarter. Westbrook and Schröder kept on attacking the basket, and the whole team took advantage of it. Oklahoma City outscored the Hawks 41-27 in the third quarter to take a three points lead into the last twelve minutes.
However, the Thunder melted right after it. The Hawks replicated what they did in the second quarter, and so did the Thunder. Atlanta outscored Oklahoma City 45-26 in the fourth period while hitting every type of shot without any type of resistance from the Thunder.
This is the fourth loss in the past five games for the Thunder. With the schedule getting harder and harder for the team lead by Westbrook and George, this in Atlanta is really a tough defeat to swallow.
Props to Atlanta for playing a great offensive game, but the big part of the Hawks' success is related to Oklahoma City bad defense. The Thunder held the best defense in the NBA until tonight. However, a bad trend is coming up of Oklahoma City. In fact, in the past six games, the Thunder have a defensive rating of 117.1, ranked 28th in the league, and a record of two wins and six losses. This has to change as soon as possible before Oklahoma City finds itself sinking in the middle of an already tough Western Conference.
No Effort - No Wins
The effort is what was missing tonight more than everything else. Playing with effort and intensity can help when you are struggling in some area of your game. Well, the Thunder left it all in Oklahoma City except for the third quarter. Probably the most frustrating part of this loss is that the Thunder played OK in the first quarter and great in the third, but just simply decided to do not show up in the second and fourth, this again is unacceptable. This team has a lot of issues with scoring, but putting up 126 points against the Hawks should be enough.
Beside Dennis Schröder, who by the way was good only in the third quarter, the bench has been bad once again. A total of nine points combined for the supporting cast made of Patterson, Diallo, and Nader. The Thunder were able to create offense in other ways, but the defensive part of the second unit hurt a lot. Sam Presti knows the problems this team have, and I am pretty sure he is working on some deal to make the second unit better on both ends of the floor.
In a bad overall night, Russell Westbrook shines. The Thunder's star finished the game with thirty-one points while shooting 10-21 from the floor, 0-3 from behind the arc, and 11-14 from the free throw lines. Also, Westbrook added eleven assists, six rebounds, five steals, and two turnovers. Westbrook didn't play well on defense (spoiler alert: nobody did) despite the many steals, but it's encouraging to see play smart on offense and do the right things.
Let's move on
This might be the worst loss of the season tied up with the one in Chicago and the one at home against the Wizards. The Thunder played bad, couldn't keep up on the defensive end, and the opponents exploited the lack of effort on that end. Obviously, it's an 82 games season, and Oklahoma City can't stop and think too much about this loss. This past six games' trend has to change, as soon as possible, and the Thunder have the chance to move on already on Thursday at home against the Lakers. A solid win could help the team with the hard schedule ahead.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play at home on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. Tip-off 8.30 pm CT
Photo: Zach Beeker/ Getty Images