A below-.500 Oklahoma City Thunder team isn’t exactly what fans were expecting when Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony teamed up. A month into the season, the growing pains that newly-formed teams tend to experience may last a while longer in OKC.
Sitting at 7-8 and 9th in the Western Conference, even OKC players are distracted with how bad the teams has struggled.
“Now we’re just playing too unselfish, too timid, we’re thinking too much,” Anthony said to media members Sunday afternoon. “Russ, PG, myself, we have to do a better job of being selfish in a way of playing our game and being aggressive on the basketball court.”
So what specifically is the reason OKC has lost so many games? Is it unselfishness or a host of their reasons?
For starters, OKC is ranked 22nd in assist percentage and 20th in assist ratio, so maybe being too unselfish isn’t the problem. What is interesting, though, is that the Thunder are 1-7 in games within three points with less than four minutes to go. Even with the offensive firepower that comes with having three guys who average over 20 points a game, this team fails to close games.
OKC has given up big leads a couple times this season, the most recent being a 23-point advantage over the San Antonio Spurs Friday night. The Thunder raced out to a 32-15 lead after the first quarter but were subsequently out scored 89-69 in the remaining three quarters. After the game, Westbrook offered a simple response when asked what his team could do to avoid losing big leads.
”Just play the same way (for) 48 minutes,” he said.
Statistics show that OKC is better at starting games than closing them out. In the first half of their games, OKC outscores opponents by an average of 6.2 points. She. The second half rolls around, they are out scored by an average of 0.8 points.
The third quarter in particular is the worst period for the Thunder. Compared to the other three quarters, OKC scores the lowest amount of points, have the lowest amount of made field goals, and commit the highest number of turnovers in the third.
As of now, OKC just isn’t the clutch team it needs to be. Some of the issues can probably be attributed to late-game rotations, starter fatigue, or the ineffectiveness in bench scoring. Either way, this team has too many superstars for fans to be patient.
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