OKLAHOMA CITY — It had been supposed to be the kind of night that could jump start the Oklahoma City Thunder. For a minute, it even appeared damned.
On a night at which the company retired the jersey of Nick Collison, a prototypical glue guy role player known for his charge-taking and backdoor bounce departure, the Thunder roared in the fourth quarter to tie the Toronto Raptors on a streaking Russell Westbrook layup with 4.8 seconds left. The Raptors cleared out to Pascal Siakam in the final possession.
The Thunder rally late in the match, and Russell Westbrook’s transition layup joins the game up at 110-110.
Even the Thunder’s first possession of overtime proved to be a scrappy grind, but Steven Adams connected with Westbrook on a basic backcut base-line bounce pass play. With Paul George fouled outside, the Raptors finally scored the first nine points of overtime, with the Thunder’s first basket coming with just 31 seconds left as Toronto handed OKC a fourth consecutive loss, 123-114.
Ateam saw as elite at the West just a month ago, following a few injuries and several other setbacks, the Thunder have slid right down to eighth at the conference based on tie breakers . If the playoffs started today — OKC has 10 games remaining — the Thunder will draw the Firstplace Warriors at the opening around.
“I knew that it had been close,” George explained. “We all know if we win at which we’re in we know whenever we lose at which we’re at moving in to the match. We control our fate “
George has said he checks the standings and scoreboard watches a few, and cared for the match to find the Thunder had been now . At the allstar break, they certainly were 17 matches over .500, next at the West. Since, they are 510, with just two different four-game losing streaks.
There’s some context there, like George’s shoulder trauma that abandoned OKC with no MVP offender for three matches and it has obviously influenced him some since coming back. Or Westbrook’s one-game suspension served contrary to the Miami Heat on Monday, a match throughout which the Thunder certainly missed his volatile energy and playmaking.
But that is clearly a self-inflicted wound, a endangered posture Westbrook created himself later amassing 16 technical fouls this season. After averting the issue following game on Monday with only”next question” responses, he equaling beyond carrying any responsibility to it on Wednesday morning.
It’s slightly indicative of exactly what ails the Thunder: There’s a comprehension of what’s going wrong — such as moving 15-of-29 as being a team from the free throw line against the Raptors — however a inability to track correct. In spurts, they’re very great. Nonetheless, it happens of desperation, like the frantic come back that forced overtime with a 32-18 fourth quarter.
Terrance Ferguson, a corner sniping 3-point shooter for a few of months, moved cold. Grant was seriously outplayed by Siakam. Schroder, an xfactor off the bench, has played badly because the allstar break.
The locker room is still connected, still convinced. It’s an extremely”process over results” approach the team takes, but results the Thunder are not producing some lately. Thunder coach Billy Donovan keeps replicating that their difficult schedule down the stretch can be actually a great thing, that it will prepare them to the postseason and reveal flaws and issues that need adjusting.
It’s also apparently costing them play off seeding, homecourt advantage from the opening around and maybe setting up a possible nightmare first-round matchup with the Warriors.
There’s time and energy to fix it, time for you to string some wins together, climb up the standings and take momentum to the postseason. There’s an interior belief that regardless of the new negative benefits, they are still the team that was briefly challenging for its West’s No. 2 seed.
“We simply have to play ,” George said Monday after dropping into the Heat. “We simply have to play as a group. That’s it. We are just gonna have to do this, interval, moving down the stretch, only playing .”