Thunder's big run was great, but couldn't overcome ends of quarters, Poku's reign of terror
It was an opening night to remember for what might have been but couldn't be thanks to a few avoidable miscues that reflect OKC coaching, on-court leadership
The Thunder began the NBA season … vaguely.
The Timberwolves are supposed to be pretty good, a playoff team at least, not a play-in team like a year ago when they finished seventh in the Western Conference.
Leaving the thumbnail on Oklahoma City’s 115-108 Wednesday night, season-opening Minneapolis setback to be thus:
Down 16 points 2:20 before the half, the Thunder managed to enter halftime down 65-52. The T-Wolves’ lead would become 16 points after 4:03 of the third quarter elapsed, but the Thunder came roaring back with a 27-5 run spanning 6:57 on the clock, one they can only hope to repeat a few more times over the next 81 games.
Of course, it wasn’t enough.
Though OKC led by six with a minute to play in the third quarter, it was even by the time the fourth began. And though the Thunder briefly led by a point and were within four with 7 minutes remaining and three a bit later and two — 105-103 from the time 4:04 remained until 2:55 remained — the whole length of the final frame felt like they weren’t winning, even while how they lost exactly appeared avoidable.
Shai Gilgeous Alexander, who sat most of training camp with a sprained knee, finished with 32 points, 20 after the half, making 12 of 23 shots and 2 of 6 from 3-point land. Josh Giddey added 14 points and 11 rebounds, making 6 of 14 shots and 2 of 7 from 3-point land.
The Thunder did not shoot well, period, finishing 38.4 percent (38 of 99) overall, 31.1 percent (14 of 45) from beyond the 3-point arc and, though both teams shot 81.8 percent from the free-throw line, Minnesota still finished plus 9 in the category, making 27 of 33 to OKC’s 18 of 22
That would be the story.
Here would be a few things to take from it.
To each their own viewing experience
Even general manager Sam Presti has made clear it’s a new season, not to be grouped with previous two, and while that doesn’t mean Oklahoma City’s headed back to the playoffs, it does mean, from where the franchise sits, that wouldn’t be a terrible outcome.
So, if you think the Thunder have no shot, you may be happy to watch them excite yet flounder, be fine with Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey lighting opponents up here and there but also fine with slight dings that might force other players to miss a game or two cause them to miss 8 or 10, all in the name of finding a way to lose nearer 60 games than 50 and find OKC right back in the thick of the draft lottery.
Or you could think like any real sports fan ought to and be bothered by bad play, bad coaching, bad decision-making, poor competitiveness, poor attitudes and poor attention to detail that make losing more probable. And if you’re like that, you might have particular interest in our remaining three takeaways.
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