OKC’s eight game win streak came to an end on Tuesday night in disappointing fashion. The Thunder looked uninspired for a majority of last night’s game, and failed to find any sort of rhythm on the offensive side of the ball.
Much of this starts and finishes with Russell Westbrook, and the reigning MVP just didn’t have it last night. Even with the absence of John Wall, Westbrook struggled against Tomas Satoransky, finishing with 13 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds on 5/18 shooting. From his poor shooting, to a flagrant and technical foul, it just wasn’t Russ’ night. That’ll happen over an 82 game season, but the Thunder go as he does, and that was evident on Tuesday night.
Paul George on the other hand had no problem getting going. He had 20 points (7/11 FG) in the first half to pace OKC, but then something happened. Actually a lack of something happened.
George looked comfortable and in-rhythm throughout the first half. He was shooting with confidence and maintaining OKC’s tempo by himself. But then something we’ve seen previously happened. He went dark.
PG took just three shots in the entire second half. Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time this has happened. He’s gotten off to quick starts and then gone quiet in second halves in the past. Why? Well that’s a whole other question.
It doesn’t all fall on George, as teams adjust defensively around someone who’s killing them. It’s up to the Thunder to continue to find ways to feed the hot hand, and they didn’t do that on Tuesday. Guys like Westbrook need to recognize that and adapt on the offensive end.
George however does need to continue to be aggressive regardless of what his teammates are doing. He’s established star in this league, and being tentative down the stretch when you already have 20+ points isn’t a trait that comes with that title.
So yes, this issue falls on everyone, but it’s something that really can’t become a pattern when Russ is having an off night. Adjust as the game comes to you, and make the game easier for the man with the hot hand, otherwise you’ll lose to a team without their starting point guard.
Here are a few thoughts from Russ and Melo regarding George’s second half:
Melo said he and Russ talked after the game about having to get Paul George more involved: “We gotta do a better job of recognizing that, a guy who had it going throughout the game, I think that’s on everybody” pic.twitter.com/mE4Z4vuEa3— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) January 31, 2018
- Carmelo Anthony had 19 points and 6 rebounds last night, but struggled to get into any sort of flow. He was 7/21 from the floor and just 2/12 from beyond the arc.
- Steven Adams naturally picked up another double-double with his line of 16 and 12.
- OKC had a season-high 21 turnovers in DC.
- Russ and Billy Donovan were each given techs last night. As Fred Katz and the WTLC Twitter account noted, Tony Brothers was dishing T’s out like Oprah with gifts for her audience.
YOU GET A TECH, YOU GET A TECH— Welcome To Loud City (@WTLC) January 31, 2018
The officiating was not in favor of OKC last night. Not placing blame on the refs for this loss, but it’s certainly worth a quick note. There were 52 total fouls in this one.
- Josh Huestis played 21 minutes last night, but had a tough final 90 seconds, including a costly turnover. The bench is doing all they can, but don’t be surprised if Presti makes a move to try and fill the Roberson void.
- Speaking of moves, Courtney Lee to OKC seems to be a hot topic. It sounds as though the Knicks will be looking for a first-rounder in return, which puts the Thunder in an interesting spot considering they’ve already dealt away their 2018 and 2020 picks.
- Go wild Thunder fans: http://www.espn.com/nba/tradeMachine - let’s see some of your hypothetical deals in the comment section.
A Look Ahead
OKC travels to Denver to face the Nuggets on Thursday before returning home to play the Lakers and Pelicans this weekend. All three are very winnable games, so one would hope the Thunder will be able to look past Tuesday night and get back to their winning ways.