The Oklahoma City Thunder (8-11) went from giving up one record-setting offensive performance to another.
After conceding 147 points to the Brooklyn Nets Friday, a franchise record for the former New Jersey squad, OKC turned around and allowed an NBA record-tying 11 3-pointers in the opening quarter of a 136-106 loss to the surging Houston Rockets (10-9) Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Houston’s long-range assault (11-for-14) spurred an 18-0 run to kickstart the team’s sixth straight win and Oklahoma City’s second straight loss. The Thunder ended the first 12 minutes in a 48-24 deficit while the Rockets eventually capped their 3-point barrage at 28-for-52 on the night.
“These are tough to evaluate right after,” Thunder head coach Mark Daignault said postgame. “Obviously there was a lot of shot-making going on, but we have to see where we can have them feel us a little more on the ball. Specifically, in the first quarter and first half, I didn’t think we had a lot of physicalities on the ball or in help and they got into a rhythm and got really comfortable.”
All-Star John Wall and Christian Wood, who will soon make an ASG appearance, were impressive and efficient in the rout. Both scored 18 points and combined to go 15-for-25 from the field. Wall drilled four triples and was active on the defensive end. Wood grabbed 11 boards and showed off the athletic ability that has shined since the team parted ways with former MVP James Harden.
Eric Gordon was also superb offensively for Houston, scoring 25 points off the bench while going 8-for-12 from the field. The Rockets shot 48% overall and 54% from deep with seven players scoring in double digits.
“They came into the game comfortably and playing well,” Daignault said. “We needed a little more pop to stop them in their heels and we obviously didn’t have that tonight.”
The Thunder were never able to sink their teeth into the game. They bounced back to cut the deficit by five points in the second quarter but continued to allow open 3-pointers and high-percentage shots before and after the break.
“It concerns me,” Thunder center Al Horford said of the team’s defense over the last two games, especially in the first half. “We haven’t started with the same energy and edge we need. We have to do a better job to not get in that position Wednesday.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the team with 19 points (8-for-15) and five assists. Darius Bazley scored 15 with six rebounds and Horford finished with 12 points and seven boards.
Thunder guard George Hill missed his fourth straight game with a finger injury. Daignault also announced that rookie forward Aleksej Pokusevski, as well as Justin Jackson and rookies Moses Brown and Josh Hall, will join the Oklahoma City Blue in the G-League bubble Tuesday.
“A lot of time and effort has gone into deciding who to send and when to send them,” the first-year head coach said pregame. “The four of them together, all for different reasons developmentally, are going to be going.”
Pokusevski scored two points (1-for-4) in 20 minutes Monday. The team’s 2020 first-round draft pick is averaging just 3.4 points on 25% shooting over 17 minutes per game this season. Jackson scored 10 against the Rockets while Hall and Brown combined to play just 13 minutes.
Oklahoma City looks to bounce back and cool Houston off Wednesday in the third game of a five-game homestand. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.