This is what it looks like when you’re a team filled with jump shooters. When there isn’t a low-post scoring option in sight and the shots that usually go down do everything but drop through the net.
You knew the problem would rear its ugly head at some point. You just didn’t expect it to be game three. Especially not after the Thunder’s performances in games one and two.
The Thunder shot 34.3 percent in its 83-74 loss to Portland on Sunday night. Oklahoma City missed 11 of 14 3-pointers and couldn’t even hit the freebies, going 23 of 32 from the line.
The shooting woes led to just six assists.
“Offensively, it was probably as bad as we could possibly play,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
Kevin Durant was 3-for-21 and is now 21-for-64 through three games. That’s 32.8 percent.
Sunday’s shot selection was particularly alarming. Alarming because Durant continued to settle for jumpers. Good looks, no doubt, but not as good as layups. Alarming because this, his third season, is the one he was supposed to come back with an even more refined game. But he looked like strictly a jump shooter Sunday. There were occasions when he manufactured points and attempted to take it to the rack. His 14 free throw attempts were a good indicator that it wasn’t all long-range heaves.
But he could have done better, should have done better.
“Great players have their off shooting nights, and I guess tonight was his,” said Jeff Green. “He will bounce back next game and have a terrific game.”
- Russell Westbrook’s nine turnovers are more of an eye sore on the stat sheet than the team’s field-goal percentage. The Thunder had 19 as a team. Three of Westbrook’s turnovers were offensive fouls, which suggests he simply needed to be a little more patience.
- Etan Thomas was a game-changer by being a presence in the paint. He battled with Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla all night and served as the team’s intimidator. As I wrote for Monday’s paper, the Thunder has found its enforcer.
- Nenad Krstic and Thabo Sefolosha combined for six shot. Here’s an idea, when no one else can hit why not run something for those two. What do you have to lose? Krstic had just one attempt in the first half, and it looked exactly like the Detroit game on Friday. Only in that game, the Thunder made the right adjustments and start running pick-and-pop because Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown weren’t stepping out. OKC should have done the same thing tonight against Greg Oden in an attempt to get more points on the board.
- Jeff Green’s 19 and 11 continues his hot start. He said after the game that he feels he can shoot the ball better. But he’s shooting 50 percent from the field and the 3-point line.
- James Harden made two consecutive 3s tonight that were big. After his second it seemed the Thunder was going to go on a run after Harden gave his team its first lead of the night at 30-29. Didn’t happen. But Harden is showing he has the potential to be a game-changer with his perimeter shooting and play-making skills. He just hasn’t found his rhythm yet from a scoring standpoint.
- A couple of nights after I tweeted Rudy Fernandez looks like he has Sixth Man of the Year potential, he walks into OKC and misses all three of his shots and finishes with one point in 14 minutes.
- LaMarcus Aldridge did not play the second half because of a right knee bone contusion. You thought his absence would have helped the Thunder. Not so much.
- The Blazers’ penetrate and pitch game is a sight to see. They’ve got Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez just waiting on the wings for wide-open look when one of the guards penetrates. It burned the Thunder tonight and could have been a lot worse had Webster and Roy, a combined 1-for-10 from 3, made more shots. But Roy delivered the game’s dagger on a drive and dish to Blake in the left corner. Blake buried the 3-ball to give the Blazers a 77-68 lead with 1:30 remaining.
THEY SAID IT
- Kevin Durant on not getting down on himself: “That is part of me growing, being a leader. I have to lead this team in the hard times and the good times. I wasn’t making shots tonight but I was still encouraging my teammates and playing my hardest on the defensive end. It happens to the best of is. It was a tough game for me but I have to come back to practice tomorrow and work even harder.”
- Scott Brooks on Durant: “He’s a very prideful player. He’s going to come back. I can imagine that he’s going to be there early tomorrow and get some extra shots up in our practice. I’m not worried about Kevin making shots. He’s going to make shots. He’s not going to have many of these nights.”
- Brooks on Russell Westbrook: “He’s going to have bad games. You can’t hide the fact that it wasn’t one of his better games. I like that he still hung in there. Defensively, he was still being active. Offensively, it wasn’t just him. Our team wasn’t clicking offensively.”
- Brooks on the team’s defense: “We competed. We hung in there defensively. It gave us a chance. That’s three consecutive games where we were pretty good.”
- Jeff Green on the team’s bench play: “To be a good team it can’t just come from the starting five. You’ve got to have guys come off the bench. Our past two games we had our bench come off and have great energy with James, Etan and K.O. We have guys who can come out on the floor and not miss a beat.”
BY THE NUMBERS
6: Assists by the Thunder, a franchise low.
7: Blocked shots by the Thunder, tying its season high.
7:12: When the Thunder lost its last lead…in the third quarter.
9: Turnovers by Russell Westbrook.
19: Total turnovers by the Thunder, a season high.
23: Westbrook’s game-high scoring total.
16,920: Announced attendance at the Ford Center.