The Thunder notched another win in convincing fashion on Wednesday night, knocking off New Orleans 101-91 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. The win, coupled with Chicago's loss against Indiana, bumped Oklahoma City to a league-best 15-3.
After the game, the team's public relations staff passed out a stat trumpeting the record for being tied for the second best-start through 18 games in the franchise's history.
But for a franchise that focuses more on how goals are attained rather than simply attaining them, there has to be at least a small measure of concern setting in — because, offensively, the Thunder has been sloppy.
For the better part of these first 18 games, Oklahoma City has struggled with sharing the basketball consistently and finding balanced scoring. Most alarming, however, has been the team's inability to take care of the ball.
Oklahoma City had 21 turnovers Wednesday, overshadowing the second wire-to-wire win of the season. But the Thunder was just too talented to not overcome those miscues against a Hornets team that dropped its ninth straight game and fell to a Western Conference-worst 3-15.
Still, the turnovers have been an issue all season and it figures to be only a matter of time before they really come back to bite the Thunder at a bad time.
“We kept them in the game by turning the ball over, and they were scoring off our turnovers,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who watched the Hornets turn his team's 21 giveaways into 21 points.
Six Thunder players had at least two turnovers against the Hornets. Russell Westbrook, who had an off night with just 14 points on 4-for-14 shooting, finished with a game-high seven and now has 17 in his last four games. Kevin Durant, despite scoring a game-high 25 points, gave it up four times and now has 20 in his last four.
“There's aggressive turnovers and there are just sloppy turnovers,” Brooks said. “We're doing both of them. It's not like we don't work on not making it happen. But it's happening and we have to correct it.”
Out of the Thunder's 18 games, OKC has had more turnovers than assists six times. Wednesday's game marked the second time the Thunder had the same number of assists as turnovers. There have been two games in which the Thunder has registered just two more assists than turnovers and one game where the Thunder has had only one more assist than turnover.
“Sometimes it's just trying to make the home-run play instead of the easier play,” Durant said. “But we got good intentions always. I think it's something that we can correct. We're still winning basketball games, but we do have to bring our turnovers down.
“We want to strive toward perfection, and I think that's one area where we always have trouble. So it's just a matter of us watching film and seeing where the open passes are and always working on them every day.”