A troubling theme for the Thunder this series has been starting halves off slow offensively by barely moving the ball and taking foul shots.
We have been able to ignore this trend the past two games with OKC wins, but today’s match shows that you cannot afford to start halves off slow during the playoffs.
OKC’s 2-game winning streak came to an end as the Houston Rockets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-80.
Eventually, the slow offensive starts will come back to bite you, and that happened today in the third quarter where the Rockets outscored the Thunder 37-18 and expanded their 3-point halftime lead to 22 points entering the fourth quarter.
Nobody on the Thunder outside of Dennis Schroder, who finished with 19 points in 21 minutes before getting ejected, could create their offense.
Danilo Gallinari scored one point, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had his worst game on both ends since Game 1 with just four points and was hunted out on defense with switches, and Lu Dort was given the green light by Houston to shoot as many threes as he wanted. It worked out perfectly for the Rockets as he missed all nine of his attempts.
When the Thunder needed a bucket to stop the bleeding, Chris Paul struggled to answer the call as he scored just 16 points before leaving the fourth quarter with the game out of hand and hurting his knee.
The Thunder played into the Rockets hands as they shot a horrendous 7-44 (15.9%) from three this game. If OKC forces a Game 7, they will need to stop jacking up so many threes and find better quality shots by moving off the ball and attacking the paint. The Thunder is not a 3-point shooting team, and they do not have the talent to resort to isos.
Oklahoma City played poorly in the first half but could stay in the game due to the Rockets not hitting their shots from outside, but that caught up with them in the third quarter, and the game was quickly lost in the Rockets offensive barrage.
It also didn’t help that Dennis Schröder was ejected in the 3rd quarter, along with PJ Tucker. The altercation happened when Schröder hit Tucker below the belt andTucker reacted by head butting Schröder.
Many thought that the return of Russell Westbrook would have been a significant indicator of who wins this game, depending on his play, but Westbrook was relatively quiet. The Thunder lost this game because of poor shooting, lack of ball movement, and miscommunications on defense.