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Thunder Views: Poor energy, poor engagement, poor results

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No Lillard, no pro... Many problems. There were many problems.

Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Well I don’t think Andre Roberson’s absence can be used as an excuse for last night’s loss in OKC. The Thunder’s lethargic defeat included getting out-rebounded and out-hustled. It was ugly from the get-go, and the players knew it; so much so that Russell Westbrook left the locker room before speaking with the media.

All of a sudden the Thunder find themselves in the midst of a mini-slump after riding a stretch where they won 14 of 19 games. Not having Roberson hurts, playing down to their competition hurts, but so does a lack of engagement. Tuesday night, the Thunder didn’t seem motivated, and that’s a total team issue.

Spotlight

I’m going to stick with a simple focus here today that relates back to something I pointed out earlier this season.

As the Thunder began to turn their season around in December, it was visually evident that this team was having fun playing with each other and embracing the challenge. They were smiling on the court, laughing on the bench, and RKO’ing each other during postgame interviews. Steven Adams even made it a point to discuss the importance of enjoying the game. It makes a noticeable difference, and right now, we’re seeing the other end of the spectrum.

Against Portland, there was a lack of energy, little engagement, and OKC allowed the Trail Blazers to torch them.

Paul George pointed at the team being responsible for these issues after last night’s loss. “It’s on us. Everything is controllable that we’re not controlling right now.”

The Thunder need to take this upon themselves to turn this mini-skid around. It sounds simple, but an early step would be to find some enjoyment in playing the game of basketball. It helped them a month ago, and it would definitely help kick start them right now.

One last point. This team has comfortably beaten the likes of Golden State and Toronto. They’ve also played down to the wire with Atlanta and lost to Dallas and Phoenix. They may not be as great as the team that beat Golden State and Toronto, but they certainly aren’t as bad as the group that lost yesterday. At some point, they’ll need to find a happy medium.

Quick Rumbles

  • Raymond Felton had 13 points tonight because he will forever be a bucket-getter.
  • Russell Westbrook (22), Paul George (22), and Carmelo Anthony (19) had 63 points last night. Outside of Adams’ 16 points, the rest of the team combined for 27 points, 13 of which came from Felton.
  • Russ missed his 15th triple-double by one rebound yesterday.
  • OKC had just 2 fastbreak points in the first half. So yeah, they were lethargic out of the gate.
  • The Thunder were horrible on defense again without Roberson, yadda yadda yadda. If you’re still questioning Roberson’s value you’re insane and I don’t like you.
  • Let’s end this on a high note, this was an awesome pass:

A Look Ahead

No rest for the weary as OKC heads right to Minneapolis to face the T-Wolves tonight on ESPN at 8:00 ET.