Jan. 30, 2018
Thunder weekly notebook: Team meetings, Change, life without Melo and Adams
The Oklahoma City Thunder sit at 6-7 with a tilt against the Bulls coming up on Wednesday so for all intents and purposes, Oklahoma City is .500--if they lose Wednesday cancel Christmas--The 82 game rollercoaster is off to a bumpy start, as everyone should have expected. There has been both peaks, and valleys, and no one quite knows that this team is. Are they the first half beating the Celtics by 20 type team? Or the second half 20 point lead blowing team that we saw against the Celtics...and Kings. This week has been a perfect summary of the highs and lows OKC fans have been on. It started with the 20-point blown lead loss to Boston, and that was followed by a 103-99 loss to Portland in a game that was not really as close as the score indicates the Thunder did not have it at all that game. They blew an 18-point lead on the road against the Kings then turned around and were handed another L at the hands of the Nuggets. Then, the fun began.
After the 102-94 loss in Denver, fans and media were ready to write this team off. Dan Patrick even called them a "AAU team" saying "This (Losing) was expected." However, players had other ideas. Oklahoma City held a 30-minute team meeting in Denver before the media was even allowed to enter the locker room for post game coverage. Melo said afterward: "This (season) can only go one of two ways."
In their next game out against the Clippers, it seemed to click. While LAC tried to manage the loss of guard Patrick Beverly, Oklahoma City was without Steven Adams and was forced to thrust Daraki Johnson into the starting roll. They defeated in Clippers 120-111, and Carmelo Anthony had his best game as a Thunder. Not only offensively, limiting his bad shots and making the shots he did take, but also on the defensive end where he was tasks with guarding Blake Griffin and handled it extremely well.
On Sunday, Oklahoma City squared off with the lowly Dallas Mavericks at home, and even without Steven Adams for the second straight game they also did not have Carmelo Anthony who sat out with a low back injury. Nonetheless, Paul George dominated dropping 37-points in OKC's 112-99 win over Dallas.
So has this team "Figured it out"? That has yet to be seen, as they have done so 1) without Adams for two games and Melo for one, but 2) against subpar teams. Their next real test comes Friday--depending on who Pop decides to play--against the Spurs in San Antonio.
This weeks games: Wednesday vs Bulls, Friday @ Spurs, and Monday @ Pelicans.
Side note: Just those three games remain until OKC takes on the Warriors in a thanksgiving eve tilt in brick town.
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