Durant, Westbrook off game in Thunder loss to Kings
Salary cap issues.
Just a list of things that don’t matter as much as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant playing well.
We sort of knew it before it was confirmed in November, but it’s shown to be gospel the past two games.
Nothing matters for this team if Durant and Westbrook play poorly, so worrying about peripherals such Andre Roberson’s minutes or Jeremy Lamb’s absence or even Serge Ibaka’s down year are just contextual issues.
No matter what happens, if Durant and Westbrook continue this odd, disturbing trend, the Thunder aren’t going to beat anyone, much less make the playoffs.
They were bad against Golden State on Monday and it resulted in a 117-91 loss. They were bad once again Wednesday and the Thunder lost again, this time to a far less superior team, 104-83 to the Kings.
In November, Oklahoma City lost because Westbrook and Durant didn’t play, due to injuries. That manifested into a 3-12 start.
The past two games, both have played, but they have been shockingly bad.If one struggles, games can be had. If both play well, the Thunder almost always win. If both no-show, OKC has no chance.
Let’s start with Durant. Monday against the Warriors, Durant seemed disengaged. He finished with 14 points. The only time he scored fewer was when Durant had 10 against the 76ers on Dec. 5. Wednesday, against the Kings, Durant once again was slow to start, but finished with xx points, yet was minus xxx in the plus-minus category.
In the first six quarters of the past two games, Westbrook was 7-for-30. Wednesday, Westbrook was 3-for-19 and scored just 10 points, his lowest total since scoring two before getting hurt against the Clippers on Oct. 30. Westbrook was 5-for-21 against the Warriors Monday. His plus-minus number for this week’s two games is minus-36 and his 3-of-19 shooting against the Kings was beyond dreadful.
The Kings have missed the playoffs for eight seasons in a row, yet they looked like the team trending upward on Wednesday. Meanwhile, entitlement to the playoffs, because Westbrook and Durant are healthy doesn’t seem to have much gravitas.
The Thunder are now 17-19 and four games behind eighth-seeded Phoenix and San Antonio.
Kind of silly to be worrying about how Dion Waiters (one-of-nine and four points) looked in his debut or how he’ll fit in when Durant plays poorly.
Ridiculous to trifle on about Reggie Jackson and his attitude when Westbrook turns it over seven times in 27 minutes.
No one else is going to carry the team. Not Waiters, not Jackson, not Ibaka. They are complement players, not leading men.
OKC’s formula has never changed. Sure there are different parts and different elements to consider and tinker with, but when Durant and Westbrook struggle, this team has no chance to win.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK