For the second time this month, Kevin Durant had multiple attempts to tie or take the lead in the final 15 seconds of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately he came up short on all three shots while trailing 96-95 to the Houston Rockets. Russell Westbrook just missed a tip in off Durant’s final try at the basket. The Thunder dropped their third game in the past seven on Wednesday night.
After going 6-for-22 from the field in the first quarter, the Thunder overcame a 16-point deficit to come within one by halftime. Durant, Westbrook, and James Harden then took over for the Thunder offense, combining for 44 of the team’s 51 second half points. Despite their efforts, the poor 3-point shooting and high number of turnovers did the Thunder in for the seventh time this season. They cling to a 1.5 game lead in the West over the streaking Spurs, who have won nine straight.
The two All-Stars on the team continue to put up big numbers. Durant and Westbrook were practically identical this game. Durant took and made just one more shot than Westbrook, going 12-for-26 for 33 points, and 11-for-25 for 26, respectively, and both grabbed eight boards. The inefficiency between the two could be contributed to the early deficit and the late game struggles, they failed to score in the final 2:44 of the game. Adding in Harden (17 points, four assists), the three stars on the Thunder contributed 15 of the 21 turnovers on the game, while only dishing out nine assists.
The Thunder need to get the bench more involved so they don’t have to rely on Durant, Westbrook, and Harden so much. Without Harden, the bench is averaging only 12 points per game in losses, including 11 tonight (eight for Nick Collison and three for Reggie Jackson). Spreading out the scoring relieves pressure from the stars, and gives them a little more room to do their thing.
The Thunder may be able to continue to play a three-man game against non-playoff teams but when the playoffs come along, they are going to need to find more efficient ways to score and stop turning the ball over at such a high rate. It will be hard to overcome 21 turnover games against the top tier defenses in the league when it really counts.
Still the Thunder had multiple shots to win the game in the end. I don’t believe in moral victories but they shouldn’t feel too bad about this loss. They look to get back on track when they return home to play the Warriors Friday night at 7:00 P.M. CST.