What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Pain. The Thunder dominated the first half, and played excellent defense throughout. But they lost. Because of a terrible, terrible second half offensive collapse. Durant and Westbrook were a combined 1-13 in the second half. The only reason the Thunder even scored at all in the second half were trips to the line and some awesome offensive rebounding from Serge Ibaka. I haven't seen an offense play so pathetically since the last time I turned on a Bobcats game.
What was tonight's turning point?
The second the 2nd half was underway. The Thunder kept turning the ball over and shooting threes. The Clippers were dominating their offensive glass and rotating it around the perimeter to find open threes. And their lead just kept building and building.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder lost?
I don't know. Westbrook scored all of his points in the first quarter. He didn't score a single point after that. A single point. Looking at his stats in the play-by-play is even more puzzling. He was getting layups blocked, missing jumpers, hurling up threes....by the end of the game, it's like he was hardly touching the ball at all. After the first half, Durant regressed into shooting threes, turning the ball over, and sometimes getting fouled.
It was almost like our offense was uncreative. I know other players have gotten involved, but it seems like the only plays we ever use Perkins and Ibaka in are mid-range jumpers. Playcalls for them to score down low are non-existent, and always improvised when they do happen. Sefolosha's lone offensive play, the corner three, seems to have become dust in the wind. And a play for Collison? Mohammed? Don't make me laugh. Fisher gets a few drive and kick threes, and Cook is a forgotten man. Harden's offensive production is very weak compared to his minutes, and his load has been continually lightened.
Honestly, the Thunder need to stop fooling themselves. You can't expect Durant and Westbrook to combine for 50 every night. They need to focus on involving other players in the offense and drawing up plays for them. The answer isn't just handing the ball off to Durant and Westbrook every single play. A basketball team consists of 5 people, not 2. Even Kobe knows that.
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
It's hard to say, because the first half and second half were radically different games. But look at the free throws. We shot 62%. Something is wrong when a team that's a season away from being one of the greatest free throw shooting teams of all time lays an egg like that.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
Aside from the win against Chicago on April 1st, the Thunder have not won a game against a playoff team in April. Almost all of the losses have been due to offensive collapses. The Spurs won tonight's matchup against the Thunder, giving them the Western Conference lead.
Thunder Wonder: Serge Ibaka, for trying his best to help the Thunder weather the storm in the 3rd.
Thunder Down Under: Nick Collison, for dominating defensively.
Thunder Blunder: Russell Westbrook, for forgetting how to play after the first quarter.
Thunder Plunderer: Chris Paul, with 10 assists.
Next Game: At the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, April 18th, 9 PM Central Daylight Time.