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Poor defense, settling on offense leads to Thunder loss

Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry writes that OKC failed to get to the free-throw line as often as in past games in Sunday's 120-99 loss to the Utah Jazz
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 1, 2010 at 12:23 am •  Published: October 31, 2010

Fourteen seconds into Sunday night’s game, Jeff Green sank a 20-foot jump shot off a feed from Russell Westbrook to give the Thunder a 2-0 lead over Utah.

The play couldn’t have been more costly.

The Thunder, it seemed, saw similar long-range shots as the key to success from that point on. As a result, Oklahoma City suffered its first defeat of 2010-11 — a 120-99 loss to a determined Jazz team seeking its first victory of the year.

Offense wasn’t the primary problem Sunday. Defense was. The Thunder allowed the Jazz to shoot 53 percent, score 18 second-chance points and rack up a whopping 32 assists.

But OKC showed in its first two outings that it can withstand dents in its defense. What the Thunder can’t afford to do is mix shaky defense and settling on offense.

In its first two games, the Thunder shot 91 free throws, 47 in the opener and 44 at Detroit. At halftime against the Jazz, the Thunder had just 11 foul shots. The 12th and 13th attempts didn’t come until Westbrook converted a pair with 6:22 left in the third quarter.

That was good enough to cut the deficit to 25.

The Thunder shot 32 of 80 from the field. Twenty-three of the team’s misses came from beyond 17 feet.

“We were thinking that we were going to be able to score with this team,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

Through three games, the Thunder’s offense has been horrific. The team is shooting 39.9 percent from the field and has made just 11 of 53 3-pointers, a paltry 20.7 percent. That is why free throws had been, and figure to continue to be, the saving grace until the sharpshooters show up.

“When the shots aren’t falling, you got to make plays at the basket,” Brooks said. “And we’ve got some athletic guys that can put the ball on the floor and score and attack the basket and also attack for others.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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