Oklahoma City Thunder: Awful offense down the stretch
With five minutes left in the game Sunday, the Thunder led the Lakers 84-73. On their next seven possessions, which spanned all but the final 45 seconds, the Lakers scored 18 points. That’s right; 18 points on seven possessions. They scored on every possession.
But defense is not why the Thunder lost, 114-106 in double overtime, after leading 77-59 late in the third quarter and 79-62 with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
This was an offensive loss. The Thunder fell into the trap of not attacking. The Thunder turned into the kind of team that Charles Barkley keeps saying the Thunder is — a jump-shooting team. Barkley is right that jump-shooting teams eventually meet their demise.
Now, the Thunder has a world-class excuse: the injury to James Harden. Metta World Peace’s cheap shot elbow to Harden’s head — Metta World Chaos, is more like it — gave the Thunder super sub a concussion and sent him to the showers late in the second quarter. World Chaos went, too, ejected and perhaps suspended.
But still. When Harden and Chaos departed, the game was closer. By early in the fourth quarter, the game was a rout. And even when OKC’s offense went south, its defense stayed tough. With 11 minutes left, the Lakers trailed 79-62, and they still trailed 87-76 with four minutes left. With any offense at all in the fourth quarter, the Thunder wins in a walk.
Instead, let’s analyze what the Thunder did in those final 11 minutes of regulation, after taking a 79-62 lead:
* 20 possessions, 12 points. Not efficient production at all.
* 16 shots, just three made. Kevin Durant made a 15-footer to make it 81-67, Derrick Fisher made a 3-pointer to make it 84-70 and Durant made a 3-pointer to make it 87-76 and seemingly put away the game.
* The Thunder committed four turnovers, which seems bad, but for the Boomers is not awful. Thabo Sefolosha fumbled away an easy pass, with the score 79-62. Get a basket there, and Laker coach Mike Brown would have to start thinking about the white flag. Durant committed two straight turnovers after OKC took an 81-67 lead; he let Steve Blake steal the ball off a dribble, then Durant lost the ball out of bounds after catching a lob pass from Russell Westbrook. The final turnover came when Westbrook misplayed an outlet pass from Sefolosha. They gave the turnover to Thabo, though it looked like Westbrook should have had it.
* Of the Thunder’s 16 shots in the final 11 minutes, seven were 3-point tries. Royal Ivey took two. Durant took three (and made one). Westbrook took one. Fisher took one and made it. So that’s 2-of-7.
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