My story for Wednesday gets into how the Thunder plays better against good teams and poorly against the bad ones. Tuesday’s loss against the Clippers proved that theory, which Desmond Mason happened to point out even before the eighth straight defeat.
Consider this, since Scott Brooks took over the Thunder has played well against New Orleans, Phoenix, Orlando, Dallas and San Antonio. Of those five games, only the Suns game was inside the Ford Center and only the New Orleans defeat was by double digits.
But the Thunder has also lost to Golden State (without Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson), Memphis (when OKC blew a 21-point, second-quarter lead), the Clippers (who came in 6-17) and Minnesota (which has only two more wins than the Thunder).
A few observations from the game…..
* Damien Wilkins is not cutting it as the team’s starting shooting guard. He’s scored 10 points or more only once in the past eight games. He went scoreless tonight in 12 minutes. He missed both of his field goal attempts, pulled down four rebounds, had one assists and two turnovers. He seems better suited coming off the bench.
* Johan Petro is in Wilkins’ same boat. He was largely ineffective tonight against the Clippers, much like over the weekend against Dallas and San Antonio while filling in for Chris Wilcox.
* It’s not fair to point the finger solely at Wilkins and Petro, but the Clippers’ starting lineup completely dominated the Thunder’s and those two players’ lack of production did have a lot to do with it. All five Clippers starters scored at least 12 points, allowing the bench to contribute only 10.
* Joe Smith’s DNP-Coach’s Decision raised a lot of eyebrows. Scott Brooks said after the game that it was a decision he made during the game when Wilcox and Collison played well off the bench. And with Jeff Green starting at power forward and Petro starting at center, it’s difficult to play five post players and Smith got caught in a numbers game.
* Offensive rebounds killed the Thunder. The final box score said OKC out-rebounded the Clippers 45-43 and 14-12 on the offensive end. But the second-chance points were in favor of L.A., 14-8. It was 14-4 at one point late in the game.
* The Thunder can’t decide if it wants to be a good free throw shooting team or not. OKC hit only 14 of 24. That 58-percent rate, combined with 21 turnovers, won’t help you win many games.
* For as much flak as Earl Watson gets from fans, he continues to be solid. He had 12 assists tonight and is averaging 7.7 in December. Fans have clamored for Russell Westbrook to be the starter, perhaps because Westbrook’s production looks better. Watson’s production, on the other hand, is more modest and dull. And nobody likes dull. (Both need to cut down their turnovers.)
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