The Oklahoma City Thunder lost 107-100 to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday in a back and forth close game at home. This game concluded the season series, with the Pacers winning both games. The Pacers won the game in a team effort where six of their players finished with double-digit points, including their entire starting lineup. Here are 10 takeaways from tonight’s close loss.
1) Pacers played the game without franchise player Victor Oladipo, who’s continuing to rehab a ruptured quad tendon he suffered in January. If that injury sounds familiar it’s because OKC’s Andre Roberson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in January 2017. Roberson has yet to return and the Thunder announced Tuesday that he would continue to rehab in Los Angeles and away from the team. Roberson’s basketball future is murky at best and an all around sad situation overall. Fans who are frustrated with Roberson should understand that nobody is as frustrated as he is, and they should take that into account when reacting to the news and should be full-on supportive of him. It’s okay to be upset, but it’s not OK to attack the player for things out of his control. Hopefully, for Oladipo’s case, his recovery goes a lot smoother than Roberson’s.
2) Steven Adams’ hot streak continues. In the last five games, the center has averaged 14.2 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game on 73.2 field goal percentage, and is 78.6 percent from free throws. Overall, Adams played great tonight, finishing with 20 points on perfect 8-of-8 shooting and went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Adams also ended the night with nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. But the same issues continue to happen for Adams and the Thunder. Adams gets involved early on and then it seems he gets lost in the mix as the game progresses. In tonight’s case, Adams scored 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the first quarter. Nonetheless, it seems Adams is starting to look a lot more like his old self these past few games and any concerns of a decline can be put to rest.. for now.
3) Dennis Schroder was great in the first half, finishing with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The second half, however, was a different story. Schroder only managed to score five points on 2-of-7 shooting. After tonight’s performance, Schroder continues to show why he is such a hot and cold player.
4) Scoring wise, Chris Paul had a quiet game with just four points on 2-of-9 shooting, with all his points coming in the fourth quarter. But Paul made his impact in other ways, such as finishing with a game-high 10 assists. It seems in close games Paul waits until the fourth quarter before he starts to assert himself as a scoring threat. This could be due to a lot of different reasons, such as saving his legs and letting his teammates have bigger roles on the team.
5) Ex-Thunder players Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, and Doug McDermott all played well against their former team. Sabonis finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, Sabonis killed the Thunder on the offensive glass, grabbing a game-high five offensive rebounds. Lamb scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting that included a clutch floater that pushed the Pacers’ lead to 103-98 with 1:02 left in the game. McDermott finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting off the bench. McDermott helped seal the win up with some fourth-quarter buckets
6) The shooting struggles of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continue. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with just 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting, including going 1-of-7 from the three-point mark. Gilgeous-Alexander is struggling with his shot, shooting just 39.8 percentage and shooting just 32.6 from behind the 3-point line in his last 10 games. It’s encouraging that Gilgeous-Alexander has recognized that his jumper wasn’t falling this game and started to attack the basket more often in the second half.
7) Speaking of young Thunder guards struggling with their shot, Terrance Ferguson isn’t looking all that great. In his last seven games, Ferguson is shooting just 25.8 percentage from behind the arc. Tonight, Ferguson finished with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting. The thing with Ferguson is when his outside shot is off, he becomes super conservative and refuses to shoot, almost as if he loses all confidence. Ferguson has got to learn to drive and force contact to get to the line when he knows his outside shot is off. And that’s exactly what Ferguson did in the third quarter, he pump-faked the three and drove to the basket and made a pretty layup. Coincidentally, Ferguson made a corner three that he shot with no hesitation soon afterward.
8) Unlike the previous two bullet points, Gallinari was great tonight, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including going 4-of-5 (career-high) from behind the arc in just the third quarter alone. Gallinari also racked seven rebounds and two assists. Gallinari didn’t do much in the final quarter though, scoring zero points on just two shots. The Thunder should’ve made it a bigger priority to involve Gallinari in the fourth, especially considering how hot he was in the third.
9) Do you know who was pretty great tonight? Abdel Nader was, that’s who. Nader scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting in 16 minutes off the bench. Before this game, Nader was averaging 15.3 points per game on 61.5 field goal percentage in his previous three games.
10) TJ Warren always seems to have the Thunder’s number dating back to when he was on the Phoenix Suns. That continued tonight as Warren scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
Next Game: The 8-12 Thunder will wait for the 10-9 Timberwolves to arrive in Oklahoma City on Friday, as they look to rebound from their close loss to the Pacers.