Thunder wrap up three-game road trip
The Thunder wrap up a three-game road trip tonight in New Orleans. So far, they have beaten Sacramento and lost at Portland.
So with Indiana up next, here’s a quick rundown of what happened and a quick look at what could happen.
Tonight: at New Orleans
Sunday: vs. Indiana
Tuesday: at Atlanta
Wednesday: at Memphis
What to watch for: Lots of points. And that may not be such a great thing. We know the Thunder can score, but New Orleans can score, too (103.4) per game. And lately, the Thunder has not been very good at defending.
Portland erased an 11-point halftime lead when the Thunder allowed 35 points in the third quarter and then 28 more in the fourth quarter. The game before that, in a win against the Kings, the Thunder led by 17 points in the second half. Sacramento scored 30 points in the fourth quarter.
And while New Orleans won’t have Anthony Davis tonight, the Pelicans do have Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson and are much improved from last year. New Orleans is 9-9 on the season.
Anderson is averaging 22 points per game and is shooting 52.9 percent from the 3-point line.
What to get excited about: The Pacers and Kobe. In that order. The next two games for the Thunder are big-time good.
Not only are the Pacers the best team in the Eastern Conference so far this season, they’re making their only trip to Oklahoma City this season coming up Sunday.
And Friday afternoon, Thunder fans got some good news. Kobe Bryant announced he’s making his return to the Lakers’ lineup this Sunday, which is just in time for him to face the Thunder in Oklahoma City. That game against the Lakers is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 13.
Listen, we all understand the Lakers aren’t as good as the Lakers we remember, but Kobe Bryant playing makes the team a heck of a lot more fun to watch.
What to worry about: Maybe it’s time to get a little concerned about Kendrick Perkins. Now, most would say that’s been the case for a long while now, but his recent struggles are notable.
He’s averaging 3.5, more than two rebounds fewer than his career average. And while we all realize Perkins is not in the game for his offensive presence, even defensively he’s really not producing. In 17 minutes against Portland and 16 minutes against Sacramento, Perkins took no shots, had four rebounds and one point.
So, a modest proposal: If Perkins isn’t doing anything offensively, which is fine, the Thunder don’t need points from its center position, and he’s not doing anything much defensively, it would be a good idea to transition to starting Steven Adams at center.
Adams didn’t get much a of a chance to show what he could do against LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday night, despite Aldridge abusing both Perkins and Serge Ibaka. Adams isn’t polished, but neither is Perkins anymore. Time to give the rookie a chance and see what he can do.
Team temperature: After the best homestand in franchise history, the Thunder have cooled off. Their eight-game winning streak is over and OKC hasn’t not looked as sharp as it did in its six wins at home. Look for a more compelling effort tonight against New Orleans and again Sunday at home against the Pacers.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK