Live by the three-pointer, die by the three-pointer. There have been too many moments in Thunder history when omigod we have to go for the long ball, often because they weren’t defending against it themselves. The fourth quarter at Sacramento was instructive. Nobody, at least nobody paying attention, puts Buddy in the corner. And Buddy Hield, left all alone, peppered the rim, three points at a time. He ended up with 25 points, a virtual second-half mirror image of Iman Shupert’s first half. The two of them combined for 9 of 21 treys. (The Thunder in aggregate went 12-42. You have to wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier to phone it in.) For the second time this season, the Kings ruled; after an early-season thrashing administered in OKC, they’ve taken a 2-0 lead in the season series with a 117-113 win at home.
The return of Russell Westbrook, you might think, would make a big difference. It didn’t. Westbrook did plenty of scoring — 29 points plus 13 rebounds — but once again, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led the bench, this time with 11, and you wonder where the rest of the troops were. I mean, Paul George had 27 points, but it took him 24 shots to get there. Steven Adams got his usual 15 rebounds, but a below-average 11 points. The one saving grace: Hamidou Diallo, starting at shooting guard, who actually shot: 7-7, 2-2 from outside, 2-2 at the foul line. You can do worse than not miss a shot all night, and in fact you usually do.
Outrebounded by the Kings, 59-53, you have to wonder how they’ll clear the boards day after tomorrow at Golden State. I mean, yeah, Steph Curry is unwell of late, but he’s not their primary defender. Let’s hope Dennis Schröder recovers his mojo: 3-17 is a whole lot of Not Good. (Oh, and he put up six treys. Missed ’em all.)