Joe's comment yesterday about Jeff Green proved to be right on, as the Thunder dropped another close game last night. Both teams struggled to shoot well, but the experience of a playoff team proved to be too much for Oklahoma City. Even without their best defensive player, Atlanta put the clamps on Kevin Durant and Co. in the fourth quarter. The Hawks pulled away in the final period, outscoring the Thunder 31-23 en route to the four-point victory.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for OKC, who had strong games off the bench by Russell Westbrook and Joe Smith. Durant did his part as well with a team-high 20 points. The problem was the continued struggle to find a consistent number 2 scorer. Green was abysmal offensively, hitting only 3 or 12 from the field, including 1-4 from three-point territory. He did step up defensively, grabbing eight rebounds, but the lack of a true threat against Atlanta doomed OKC in the 89-85 loss.
The other key point that needs to be made is the uncertainty surrounding Chris Wilcox. He left the game after only playing five minutes, further muddling the the situation. With four more games this week, the Thunder's other front-court players have to fill the gap.
Hitting the road again, OKC takes on another up and down team. The Pacers have been a playoff contender most of the decade but underwent a major overhaul in the off-season. Indiana traded Jermaine O'Neal and now focus on the play of Danny Granger, the Pacers' version of Durant. I will be back later with a full recap.