Thunder Basketball

Westbrook Returns, Same Flaws Remain; OKC Falls 131-120 to the Kings

Westbrook Returns, Same Flaws Remain; OKC Falls 131-120 to the Kings

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3) brought their poor shooting with them from California. They also brought their fourth quarter defense from Friday night.

The winless Sacramento Kings (1-2) shot 55 percent from the field, 46 percent from three. The Thunder’s defense could do little to stop Sacramento from anywhere on the floor.

“They come back from the West Coast, they get their guy back and opening night, and a lot going on,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for them. We got the ball up and down the floor and we played fast.”

At 36 percent shooting during their first two games — the lowest in the NBA — tonight’s performance wasn’t much better. Oklahoma City shot 36 three pointers, only making eight, and shot 42 percent overall.

Oh and Russell Westbrook came back.

The All-Star point guard kept the Thunder afloat on offense for much of the night. Paul George’s struggles with foul trouble and shooting continued for much of the first half. Despite that, Westbrook showed little signs of rust or fatigue.

“I played okay,” Westbrook said in the locker room. “I just hate losing so honestly I don’t care to talk about how I played.”

The Kings got up and out early with the three-ball. Iman Shumpert was on fire throughout the game but scored 16 points in the first to lead all scorers, he finished with 26 on 9-of-13 shooting, 4-of-7 from three. Overall, Sacramento’s offense did nothing spectacular that the Thunder weren’t ready for. Oklahoma City just did little to stop the Kings from hitting shots.

“The Kings shot the ball from the field better,” Donovan said after the game. “They shot from three better and they shot from the foul line better. We didn’t do a very good job of stopping them.”

As bad as the defense was, the offense was just as bad. Donovan was happy with the numbers but make no mistake, the Thunder is struggling to find consistency from the field.

Outside of Westbrook (32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists) and George (29 points on 10-of-18 shooting), the rest of Oklahoma City shot 23-of-63 from the field. Terrance Ferguson and Patrick Patterson have offered little impact on either side of the floor while Dennis Schröder struggles with inconsistency.

It is still much to early to panic, but a lot of the same warning signs from last year are there. The Boston Celtics are next for the Thunder on Thursday night in Oklahoma City. 0-4 is a strong possibility unless the Thunder start hitting shots and defending on the other end.

Thunder Basketball

Brady has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2016. University of Oklahoma alum class of 2014. He has worked for the Franchise since April 2018. Co-Host of the OKC-82 Podcast. Member of the Basketball Insider's Show.

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