Following a neck-and-neck opening stanza, the Thunder fell flat opposite the Portland Trail Blazers' untamed offensive eruption. Oklahoma City's errant second-quarter marksmanship (6-of-24 FGM) buried the team within a substantial hole from which recovery was vain.
In addition, a burdened Russell Westbrook was again denied triple-double plaudits as OKC suffered its second-worst defeat of the season. Conjointly, Westbrook's lesser-esteemed streak of double-double performances concluded at 12.
As the Thunder committed twenty turnovers while shooting just 37/29/75 overall, Portland dominated in total fast-break and low-post points 71-to-46.
On a night best consigned to oblivion, Victor Oladipo's absence exacerbated Oklahoma City's unremarkable two-way effort. Bereft of remedy for the Trail Blazers’ overall synergy and aplomb, OKC conceded the first leg of back-to-back contests.
With Tuesday-night’s hardships set down, here is a closer look at how each Thunder fared.
Russell Westbrook: B-
On a truncated 28-minute night, Westbrook led the Thunder in points (20), assists (6), and 3PM (2). In addition, the insatiable guard’s player impact estimate (14.5) was highest among all Thunder starters.
While Westbrook struggled from the field, (36% FG) his status as Oklahoma City’s lone-shot creator was easily hindered by a prepared Portland defense. Of all OKC players, Westbrook was most effected by Oladipo’s absence.
Steven Adams: C+
Adams’ excellent shooting from the field —21-of-27 last three contests— continued with a creditable six-of-ten performance. In addition, the burgeoning pivot added four steals and fourteen points in 26 minutes.
The Kiwi’s lone setbacks included a subpar rebounding effort (11.4 REB%) and four costly turnovers.
Slightly mixed results aside, with the league’s ever-evolving tenor of play, it’s nice to see Adams nightly unleash a deft low-post repertoire.
Domantas Sabonis: C
Sabonis led all Thunder to garner 20-plus minutes in NETRTG (-9.9) while securing a game-high nine rebounds. On a dreary outing for OKC, 20-year-old Sabonis showcased subtle hints of improvement.
Andre Roberson: C
Minus key cog Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson was tasked with checking two of the league’s premiere scoring threats. While Roberson struggled a bit to contain Portland’s perimeter firepower, it was not for lack of effort.
Roberson’s 121 DEFRTG was more so a function of Oklahoma City’s current depth issues. Throughout the opening quarter, Roberson netted a +1 plus/minus while holding standout C.J. McCollum scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting.
Unfortunately, as the game progressed, a paucity of substitute wing defense placed Roberson in a bind. On a positive note, the 6’7 swingman netted seven points, four rebounds, two steals, and a made three-point attempt.
Jerami Grant: C
While spelling Oladipo in OKC’s makeshift starting lineup, Grant scored eleven points. During the Thunder’s ill-fated second quarter, the talented 22-year-old’s six point contribution represented a non-Westbrook team high.
Though Grant’s opening-group presence signified a noticeable drop-off; the afforded experience was invaluable to his growth as an NBA player.
As certain younger members of the Thunder appeared lackadaisical, and overwhelmed, the same cannot be said of Oklahoma City’s budding prospect.
Anthony Morrow: D+
In the heat of competitive battle, Morrow was just 1-of-7 from the field. Once the Blazers had blew open the flood gates, A-Mo sunk 3-of-4 attempts. In total, Morrow finished with nine points, and a team-low -19 plus/minus.
Enes Kanter: D
Opposite an emboldened Portland front-line, Kanter put forth one of his season’s poorest showings. Overall, OKC’s offensive bench maven connected on a pallid 1-of-7 FGA, and committed four turnovers while routinely allowing a bevy of pick-and-roll baskets.
Kanter seemed overmatched by his counterparts’ length and athleticism.
Semaj Christon: D-
Following perhaps his best game as a Thunder, Christon stumbled mightily vs. Portland. Leading all OKC reserves in minutes (26:53) Christon misfired to the tune of 1-of-6 shooting while committing three turnovers and four fouls.
No OKC player to log 15-plus minutes had a lower true shooting percentage (25.8) than Christon’s.
The following Thunder receive incomplete totals due to compiling predominantly “garbage” minutes.
- Joffrey Lauvergne: 9 points
- Alex Abrines: 5 points
- Kyle Singler: 5 points
- Nick Collison: 0 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Oklahoma City’s languid outing vs. a sub .500 Portland iteration exposes the delicate state of OKC’s depth chart. While perhaps starting Grant over a more natural two-guard (Morrow, Abrines even) may have ultimately impeded the team’s offensive output, Coach Billy Donovan’s options of recourse were sparce.
In a surprising turn of events, the Thunder was outscored handily on the interior. Oklahoma City’s stinted rim protection was directly correlated to the shot-blocking Jerami Grant playing out of position.
However, a more troubling quandry was found Tuesday in Westbrook’s inevitable fatigue. It simply is not feasible for Russell Westbrook to maintain his stellar all-around production while lugging about an astronomical league-high usage rate of 41.2.
Against Portland, a deleterious combination of these elements co-mingled to create a rather ugly performance.
While there is no official update regarding Oladipo’s status for tonight’s contest vs. Utah, expect the Thunder to go again without its starting two guard. Hopefully, Donovan will make the proper adjustments, as the Thunder too adapt as this winding season unfolds.