The Oklahoma City Thunder came into tonight's game after taking a huge leap forward in the previous game, only to take a leap backwards in tonight's contest. The Thunder's offensive struggles returned as they gave up a double-digit lead in the 2nd half, and a last second three from Russell Westbrook came up short as the Thunder lost to the Detroit Pistons at home, 99-98.
Westbrook notched his sixth triple-double of the season in the loss, but shot only 9-27 and 1-9 from 3-point range. The Thunder missed many opportunities to pull ahead down the stretch. The same issues that the Thunder hoped to put behind them, came right back. This game marks the 8th time in 10 losses where OKC has surrendered a double-digit lead.
In the first half, the Thunder came out looking to get the ball in the paint. Westbrook's attacks opened up the lanes for layups from Steven Adams and dunks from Andre Roberson. The paint touches opened up the floor and the Thunder got good looks from downtown. The Thunder led 29-25 after the first.
The Thunder opened the second quarter on a 11-2 run to make the score 40-29. However, the Thunder defense started to give up easy looks from downtown. The Thunder struggled to defend the three point line as the Pistons made 7 first half threes. Paul George, the Thunder's best perimeter defender, played only nine minutes in the half due to foul trouble. Yet the Thunder built a 59-49 lead at the halftime break.
In the 2nd half, the Thunder built a 15-point lead early in the third but quickly saw it disappear. Tobias Harris and Stanley Johnson started to knock down shots from the perimeter and Andre Drummond became a handful inside. By the end of the third, the Thunder lead was down to four, at 77-73.
The Thunder offense regressed back to a lot of iso and no ball movement. Westbrook got into the paint for layups but there was no fluidity to the offense. The Thunder struggles in the 4th returned and they only scored 39 points in the 2nd half.
The Thunder shot 42% from the field and only made 7 out of 30 three point attempts, while earning trips to the free throw line only 8 times all game (Westbrook had 7 of those attempts). They also edged the rebound battle 44-42 but were outrebounded 29-18 in the second half. The Thunder also gave up 14 threes to the Pistons and were outscored 19-7 in fast break points.
Carmelo Anthony chipped in 20 points with 8 rebounds. George contributed 16 points. Adams had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, doing most of his damage in the first half, but failed to even register a shot attempt in the 4th.
Post-game, analyst Antonio Daniels summed up the problem well:
Drummond led the Pistons with a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds. Smith had a big night off the bench with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
The Thunder will attempt to bounce back on the road against the Dallas Mavericks.