Having suffered a complete turn of form, the Oklahoma City Thunder now sit with a record of 6-5. Tonight they host the Houston Rockets, led by the record-breaking James Harden.
Just over a week ago the Oklahoma City Thunder had a record of 6-1. They’d beaten the Los Angeles Clippers on the way to their most impressive start since the move from Seattle.
But four consecutive losses against the Raptors, Clippers, Magic and Pistons have seen the Thunder sink from 1st to 8th in the Western Conference like a brick in a river.
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Nov 14, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) talks to forward Domantas Sabonis (3) during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons won 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma’s defense and growing lack of confidence has been personified by the recent results – their 88 points against Detroit was their lowest return in any loss this season.
Despite a valiant comeback the Thunder were still 23 points down against Serge Ibaka’s Orlando, despite the fact that the Magic had the lowest points average in the entire NBA at that point in time.
Today OKC play host to the Houston Rockets, who despite losing Dwight Howard have gone 6-4 to start the season.
Away from home they boast a record of 4-3, including a win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Rockets have had a tricky start to the season too, with two matches against the aforementioned Spurs and one against the Cleveland Cavaliers already.
Houston have averaged 107.8 points so far this campaign. It’s a figure that sees them nicely into the top ten on the scoring charts, with a plus/minus of 3.0 exactly.
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The Thunder meanwhile have shot just 103.1 with a plus/minus of only 0.4.
Last season the four-game series was split directly at 2-2. The Rockets won the first matchup, before OKC won games two and three. Houston won the final match on April 3rd.
But before OKC’s victory back at the end of January, James Harden had been unstoppable against his former side, with the Rockets having won six on the bounce against the Thunder.
Battle of the Point Guards
Nov 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after a play during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Despite their being a hell of a lot of talent on the court tonight, the win will come to the side with the better-performing point guard.
James Harden has been moved from shooting guard to the point this season, with devastating results.
The man with the beard has been matched records set by NBA royalty this season, with Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain among those who Harden has shared stats with.
The 27-year-old former OKC man was named the Western Conference’s Player of the Week for his performances, as he averaged 27 points, 14.3 assists and 9.7 rebounds across the seven days.
Despite seeing his team lose, Russell Westbrook has still been putting up numbers. Across the four losses, the point guard averaged 34.8 points. He also led his side on assists in each of the games, and rebounds in all bar the Raptors matchup.
Russ is still OKC’s best hope. Fellow guard’s Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon are the respective side’s next highest scorers. Dipo has 15.2 points with 3.4 rebounds, Gordon has 16.6 points with 2.8 rebounds.