After four-consecutive wins, the Oklahoma City Thunder has lost three straight to sub .500 competition. OKC was bested Sunday night by a feisty Dallas Mavericks group clawing to remain in post-season contention.
Overall, Oklahoma City’s past three conquerors — each clinging to late-season playoff hopes— sport a combined 72-111 record. With tonight’s setback, and without Victor Oladipo, the Thunder finished 0-3 on their latest road trip.
A road trip many expected recently-surging OKC to sweep.
Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 29 points, yet shot 8-of-24 from the field. Further, Oklahoma City’s record fell to 1-5 over Westbrook’s past six 10+ 3PA games. During the Thunder’s losing streak, the six-time All Star has hoisted 38 three-pointers, making just ten.
Tonight, Oklahoma City shot 2-of-22 from deep, with Westbrook (2-10 3PM) netting his team’s only makes from distance.
On an otherwise barren offensive occasion, Steven Adams (19, 8-10 FGM) and Enes Kanter (16 pts, 10 rebs) joined their frustrated leader in double-figure scoring.
Meanwhile, before a raucous home crowd, Dallas gained 22 points from Seth Curry. Steph’s younger brother has scored 20+ in four-straight contests as the resilient Mavericks have won 4-of-5.
Following Mark Cuban’s derogatory comments regarding Westbrook’s MVP chances, former MVP Dirk Nowitzki poured in 18 and grabbed 12 rebounds while Harrison Barnes (17) and Nerlens Noel (13) offered stand-out performances.
The Mavericks dominated the middle quarters 60-44. Amid his supporting cast’s sustained disillusionment, Westbrook was whistled for both a technical and flagrant foul.
Dallas (26-36) is now 2.5 games back of eighth-seeded Denver. Conversely, the once-flourishing Thunder (35-28) find themselves saddled with chemistry issues as each Thunder outside of Westbrook, Adams, and Kanter combined for a scant 25 points.
Oklahoma City next takes the court Tuesday night vs. Portland from Chesapeake Energy Arena.
- Overall team chemistry: Again, the Thunder appeared fragmented and unfamiliar with one another on the court. This lack of team-nuance was manifested in a 19 assist/15 turnover performance.
- Doug McDermott flounders: McDermott logged 30+ minutes for a third-consecutive game. Unfortunately, in that time, the new Thunder is 9-29 from the field, and 1-of-12 from deep. Consequently, McDermott is cutting into Alex Abrines’ (53 minutes last three games) playing time.
- Thunder three-point shooting: Following a 12-13 3PM first-half vs. Utah, OKC has floundered from deep. Sunday, OKC misfired on 20 of 22 attempts from beyond the arc.
- Defense: Oklahoma City yielded 104 points to the league’s #23 offense and #30 pace.
- Steven Adams: 19 points, 3 offensive rebounds, 8-10 FGM
- Enes Kanter: 16 points, 10 rebounds
Yes, of late, OKC has looked awful vs. low-caliber groupings. And that is cause for some immediate apprehension in Thunder Nation. However, master-experimenter Billy Donovan isn’t panicking, and neither should you.
Why? Because, nearly all teams that undertake major deadline moves experience this sort of initial setback.
The main positive is that OKC has talent, and time. Again, I emphasize, talent and time.
Over the next 18 contest this team will begin to find a comfort level with one another, and develop vital chemistry for the post-season run.
As Thunder Nation witnessed vs. division-leading Utah, when this Oklahoma City group is locked in, it poses a major threat to any team. And eventually this group will find its groove.
Hopefully, this begins Tuesday night in a rematch vs. Portland.