In a somewhat disappointing result, the Oklahoma City Thunder have fallen to the Detroit Pistons, 88-82. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka sat out the game due to rest, and the rest of the team was on the second night of a back-to-back. The Thunder were fairly competitive throughout, but really struggled to overcome a 9 point third quarter. Russell Westbrook shot just 8 of 28 from the floor, and dished only 6 assists. It was hard for Westbrook to find space, with his jumpshot as off as is was and Andre Drummond lurking in the paint.
The Pistons mainly had success posting up their forwards. Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris either got into a mismatch or had a serious size advantage on their regular matchup. Without Serge Ibaka, the Thunder couldn't contain either Detroit forward on a consistent basis. Morris finished with 24 points on 9 of 13 shooting, while Harris finished with 17 on 6 of 14 shooting. Nick Collison was tried on defense, but he wasn't super effective in his four minutes of play. Eventually, Billy Donovan settled for a twin towers lineup of Adams and Kanter. It gave the Thunder a fourth quarter run, but Kanter proved to be ultimately unreliable in crunch time. Jackson scored over Kanter in the pick and roll twice in the last four minutes.
Detroit also got some production out of the Drummond-Jackson pick and roll combo. Drummond went to some post ups on Adams at first, but didn't have extended success. But Drummond would finish 6 of 9 for 13 points. Reggie Jackson wasn't as effective, pulling up for a lot of ill-advised mid-to-long-range shots and finishing 4 of 15 from the floor. But Jackson scored when it mattered. The Thunder's defense was successful elsewhere, though. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a ghastly 3 of 16 from the floor, for 8 points. Credit goes to Roberson and Adams for shutting down the paint.
How did the Thunder lose this game?
OKC was in a winnable situation from about 6 minutes to go until four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Down by four, the Thunder had a lot of defensive momentum. The Pistons couldn't rely upon posting up their forwards anymore, and were settling for a lot of mid-range jumpers. The closest the Thunder got to winning this game came with 5:05 to go, when Kanter hit a three to bring OKC within one. But the ensuing possessions were a disaster. Westbrook missed three jumpers, while Foye missed two. Also, Drummond blocked a Westbrook layup. With Detroit countering OKC's twin towers with Aron Baynes, it was just hard for the Thunder to find any consistent offensive option.
Eventually, the Pistons gained a small lead and the Thunder ran out of possessions with which to catch up.
- Dion Waiters hit a three, but was ultimately 1 of 8. A decent post up stopper, but he took way too many mid-range shots. Will someone tell him that shooting guards just don't take long twos anymore?
- Steven Adams had a couple of impressive baskets amongst the trees, including a turnaround on Drummond. But ultimately it was just for 6 points, and Westbrook had a lot of trouble finding him.
- Roberson was 1 of 3, with all of his shots being at the basket. Great defense, as usual.
- Kyle Singler played exclusively in the first half, going 2 of 4 in 18 minutes. My best guess is that Kyle's terrible defense of Detroit's wings is what got him yanked. Singler had a pull-up mid-range fall in transition, along with a push shot. But the missed shots were a three and another push shot.
- Enes Kanter wasn't used very much in the first half, but found a home with the twin towers lineup in the fourth quarter. All of Kanter's fourth quarter post opportunities came on offensive rebounds, though. Kanter was more effective when directly facing off against Baynes at center.
- Cameron Payne his a tough layup, but was just 1 of 6 overall, including 0 of 3 from three. I wish his long-range game would take a step up on some level. He'll never get anywhere in the NBA without it.
- Anthony Morrow had 14 minutes and had a pair of really impressive quick-fire long range shots. I didn't notice Morrow's defense particularly lacking, despite at least one given up three. Morrow also had a mid-range pull up. At 3 of 6 from the floor, you've gotta wonder if Donovan will trust him more moving forward....probably not, unfortunately.
- Randy Foye was 3 of 9. Foye's fourth quarter three and fast break layup were critical to getting the Thunder back in the game. But Foye wasn't a particularly good defender, as his smaller stature worked out negatively for him. Offensively, Foye took too many mid-range shots (3) and too many deep threes (2). At least Foye can step up when it matters sometimes, though.
- Josh Huestis got 16 minutes tonight, and it was cool to see him for extended stretches. A favorable 2 of 3 from the floor, including a three. Heustis was only okay on defense, but he knew how to not foul and was playing against bigger players.
- Westbrook and Jackson don't have much love left between each other. As the game ended, Jackson waved his hand for the crowd to stand up, and jawed with Westbrook and Morrow. Westbrook took the ball and punched it before leaving the court.
- Ultimately, this loss is meaningless. A win would have been nice for bench confidence, but the rest of the season is really about playoff prep at this point. Props to KD and Ibaka for not looking a gift horse in the mouth and deciding to sit out this one.
Thunder Wonder: Steven Adams, for handing Drummond relatively well
Thunder Down Under: Randy Foye, for continuing to shoot
Thunder Blunder: Russell Westbrook, his shot was just off tonight
Thunder Plunderer: Marcus Morris, prototypical stretch four
Next Game: Versus the Los Angeles Clippers, Thursday, March 31st, 8:30 PM Central Daylight Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!