Oklahoma City Thunder: Loss of composure in LA
Add another team to the Thunder’s do-not-wish-to-play-early-in-the-playoffs list: the Clippers. The Clips routed OKC 92-77 Monday night, a game in which the Thunder led until the fourth quarter and which was a 74-73 score with 71/2 minutes left.
The Thunder now is 1-3 vs. the Clippers this season, with two blowout losses. But unlike Memphis, which the Thunder would like to avoid because of matchup problems, OKC should seek to avoid the Clippers because of attitude problems. The Thunder seems to lose its composure against the Clippers.
Russell Westbrook reverted to his previous-season tendency to play macho ball when Chris Paul is on the court. Alas, it gets even worse. Westbrook did the same with Eric Bledsoe, CP3′s backup. We’ve seen this on occasion from Westbrook, who seemingly feeling that his manhood has been questioned, will try for futile steals and take ill-advised drives. It makes for horrible basketball and helps the Thunder get steamrolled.
But misery had company Monday night. Kevin Durant, too, got frustrated. A lack of fundamentals — taking care of the ball, not understanding situations, trying to make a point by making a play — led to empty possession after empty possession. Westbrook and Durant had five turnovers each. Paul seemed to get under Westbrook’s skin, and the goofy Nick Young seemed to get under Durant’s. The Thunder’s two all-stars combined to make 11 of 34 shots.
Eventually, the composure loss spread to defense, where in the fourth quarter Durant, trying to help out in the lane, let Young free for open shot after shot, and the penetrating Paul found Blake Griffin open for easy dunks down the stretch, when the Clips broke away.
Just an awful performance by the Thunder, which had scratched its way to a 52-43 halftime lead even though it had played none too well. Here’s how bad this game was: Serge Ibaka was the only highlight, with his 12 points and seven rebounds in the second quarter alone. Ibaka’s relentless offensive rebounding kept the Thunder ahead. But by game’s end, Ibaka had a game-worst minus-18 plus/minus — the Thunder were outscored by 18 points when Ibaka was on the court.
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