Without Durant, Thunder Falls To New Orleans
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City waited a long time to get its full arsenal of players healthy. Unfortunately, the Thunder is going to have to wait a bit longer to get to .500 for the first time this season.
The Thunder struggled in the fourth quarter an didn't score in the final three and a half minutes, as New Orleans kept the Thunder from climbing into the top eight in the West with a 101-99 victory.
Oklahoma City had a shot to tie or win the game with 10 seconds left, but Russell Westbrook missed a 3-pointer with a few seconds left and Serge Ibaka's tip went wide as time ran out.
The disappointing finish was the culmination of a dreadful fourth quarter, especially from Westbrook. The Thunder was without Kevin Durant for a second straight night and Westbrook took it upon himself to carry the load. He did just that, to a certain extent. While he scored 29 points and had eight assists, Westbrook was just 10-of-27 from the field with six turnovers. He also missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
Most disturbing was Westbrook's tunnel vision late in the fourth quarter. After a Steven Adams layup put the Thunder up six with 5:33 to go, Westbrook took every shot the rest of the way for OKC, except for two. On many of the Thunder's possessions, Westbrook didn't even look to pass, opting to attack the basket in a very out of control method.
Needless to say, the plan didn't work. And it's disappointing as well, because Sunday night, OKC got contributions from a variety of places. Adams and Perry Jones each had 12 points, with Adams chipping in 10 rebounds. Reggie Jackson had 19 points off the bench and Andre Roberson and Anthony Morrow each had seven points.
It was another frustrating night for Serge Ibaka as well. Not only did he have a nonexistent night on the offensive end, but Anthony Davis tore him and the rest of the OKC defense up. Davis finished the game with 38 points and 12 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots. Davis was an incredible 16-of-22 from the field and scored in a variety of ways—layups, dunks, offensive rebounds and 18-foor jump shots.
Ibaka was completely outplayed and didn't attempt a shot in the second half until his attempted putback in the final seconds. With Durant out, Ibaka has to do more to help the Thunder replace that production.
OKC won't be able to get back to .500 until at least Christmas, but a Tuesday home date with Portland won't be an easy one to win, especially if Durant is unable to play once again. The .500 mark is proving to be elusive for Oklahoma City and there's no clear answer to the question of when the Thunder will finally reach it.