Before this game was even half over, a dispirited Judge Radar grumbled:
Thunder Meltdown in full effect this 2nd quarter. It's time to call a spade a spade. This team is struggling with basic fundamentals!
— Judge Radar (@OKCNightCourt) December 14, 2016
It didn’t start out that way. Late in the first quarter, OKC was up nine. But things went straight to the hot nether regions after that. The Trail Blazers had a stiff 16-point lead at halftime, and after the third quarter Portland had run it to 21. Part of the problem was the absence of Victor Oladipo, who messed up his wrist last time out; but the real issue was the Thunder’s sudden inability to make shots, coupled with some recurring defensive lapses. The towel was thrown in halfway through the fourth, and both benches did the mopping up, with the Blazers claiming a surprisingly easy 114-95 win. The only redeeming feature of the evening, so far as I was concerned, was getting a half-price pizza from Papa John’s.
How bad was it? Not even a double-double from Russell Westbrook (20-6-6). Only two other Thunder players in double figures. Then again, one of them was Jerami Grant. Meanwhile, six Blazers scored in double figures, led by Mason Plumlee with 18. Portland shot around 60 percent of the night, finishing with a highly decent 54; the Thunder, once they dropped below 40 percent, stayed there, ending up at 38. OKC did collect the bulk of the rebounds, 44-36, but they also turned over the ball twenty times, versus a mere 13 for the Blazers.
Tomorrow night: it’s all that Jazz in Salt Lake City.