What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
This was the worst game I've seen this season. We've played technically worse games before, like the debacle against the Wizards back in January. But tonight, the Thunder just ceased to try beyond the second quarter. It was like each player was out there for himself, thinking he had unlimited range and the passing skills of Steve Nash. There was no sense of urgency, and some players were being ignored completely. It was worse than watching the Thunder lose to Dallas in the Western Conference Finals.
What was tonight's turning point?
The Thunder crossed the point of no return when Al Jefferson responded to a James Harden three with a difficult shot in the lane, putting the Jazz up by 5 with 51 seconds to go. After that, Serge Ibaka missed a quick jumper on the baseline, pretty much putting an end to the Thunder's hopes.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder lost?
Three pointers. Generally speaking, the Thunder had a good three point shooting game. I mean, they shot 42%, right? But there were so many ill-advised threes at the worst of times. Why in Sam Hill were the Thunder chucking up threes when they were down by three with six minutes to go? Sure, a made three would tie the game, but the threes they took were forced. At one point, Durant was guarded by Milsap on the perimeter, and he chose to shoot a three from a couple of feet behind the line. WHY?
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
The Thunder committed 20 turnovers tonight. More than anything else, that shows you just how lazy the offense was. Guys were trying to thread the needle with way too crafty passes down low to the big men in the paint. High post ups were lazily done, and telegraphed way too early. Passing out of double teams seemed to not exist. Once, I saw Harden attempt a lob to Durant from one wing to the other that resulted in an easy turnover. Really, Harden?
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
The Thunder still won the season series against the Jazz, but the loss puts their Western Conference lead in jeopardy. The Spurs are now only three games back. The loss doesn't bode well for the immediate future either, as the Thunder have to fly back to Oklahoma City and take on the Clippers less than 24 hours from the start of their last game. If the Thunder play the same way they did tonight, get ready for the Blake Show to grab record high Neilsen ratings.
Thunder Wonder: Serge Ibaka, for helping to fuel the third quarter run.
Thunder Down Under: Nick Collison, who managed to fill the stat sheet.
Thunder Blunder: Kevin Durant, for the array of missed shots and lack of matchups exploited.
Thunder Plunderer: Jefferson AND Milsap, for their clutch offensive play.
Next Game: Versus the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, March 21st, 7 PM Central Daylight Time