What Was Wrong With The OKC Thunder Late-Game Offense vs. The Toronto Raptors?

Nov 4, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross (31) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters (3) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross (31) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters (3) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

In the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 103-98 loss Wednesday night at home to the Toronto Raptors, it was the same old criticism that found it’s way back into the conversation.

Scott Brooks may be gone but the Thunder’s late-game offense failed to produce a field goal in the final 5:13 as Toronto climbed back from an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to shock the home team.

Kevin Durant made a smart point after the game, acknowledging that the NBA is a “make or miss league” and if the Thunder made some of those shots down the stretch it would have been considered great offense.

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Billy Donovan doesn’t have the Thunder running the same stuff Brooks did. In this situation, we would have been guaranteed nothing but a two-man game side pick-and-roll between Russell Westbrook and Durant every possession under Brooks. Something that did work a lot over the years for what it’s worth.

Donovan had the Thunder going small for the final 4:05, one of the longest stretches small of the night actually. Andre Roberson checked in for Steven Adams at that point conceivably to help with defense but Toronto never really had any trouble scoring and also hurt the Thunder on the offensive glass.

Roberson was eventually ignored on offense, forcing Donovan to take him out with 1:24 left.

Let’s take a close look at the halfcourt offense down the stretch, beginning with the final field goal which came off deadly action between Westbrook and Durant.

This is the favorite kind of stuff Donovan likes to run with Durant at the four. Kind of a horns-type of look with Adams as the screener. It creates a lot of space for Durant who is pretty much money from that spot. Awesome set. Thunder leading 93-85 with 5:13 left.

The Raptors scored on a Cory Joseph putback after two offensive rebounds on the next possession to make the score 93-87.

The Thunder come really close to getting a really good look on their next possession but a deflection makes it a side-out. Westbrook ends up taking a three after this and missing.

Pretty bad turnover by Westbrook on the next possession. He doesn’t use a Serge Ibaka pick then gets the ball poked away on a drive. Westbrook makes this decision on a pick-and-roll a lot and good things happen, but he was driving into a crowd on this play.

More Westbrook and KD pick-and-roll the next possession and Westbrook goes quick not really using the screen. He goes strong and draws the foul. Nothing wrong with this.

Westbrook only makes one of two free throws and DeMar DeRozan scores on the next possession to make the score 95-91 with 3:10 left. It’s more Westbrook-Durant pick-and-roll next but Westbrook picks up his dribble because it seemed like he was going to KD all the way and good defense by Joseph results in a deflection. Westbrook comes down, hoists and misses a deep three.

The Thunder get one of their few stops on the next possession and get out and run. Westbrook finds Ibaka in the paint and Ibaka draws the foul. He makes both free throws to give OKC a 97-91 lead with 2:17 left.

Toronto cuts the deficit to four after Jonas Valanciunas makes a pair from the line and then we get this set from OKC. A Durant-Ibaka pick-and-roll results in a good look from the wing for Dion Waiters with his man, Kyle Lowry, sagging all the way into the paint. Waiters misses.

He’s made 2-of-4 from the left wing this season but shot just 23.9 percent from that wing last season. So not the greatest shot but the right idea, I guess.

Lowry scores on a quick layup to cut it to two with 1:36 left forcing Donovan to call timeout. He brings Anthony Morrow in for Roberson.

Back to Westbrook-Durant pick-and-rolls. Westbrook gets a lot of space to drive hard here but misses the layup. KD would have been open on the pop but this is by no means a bad look. In fact, it’s a pretty good one.

Two free throws by Valanciunas ties the game, 97-97, with 1:16 left. Durant is forced to take a tough shot over a defender on the next possession after a lazy two-man game with Westbrook. He misses but honestly, it’s not a bad look since it’s Durant.

DeRozan drives in for a layup after the miss to give Toronto the 99-97 lead with 47 seconds left. The Thunder, in desperate need of a hoop, go with the KD-Russ pick-and-roll from the top of the key again. Westbrook again makes a nice hard drive and misses the layup. Tough look but it’s Westbrook. He can make those a lot.

Toronto is able to ice the game on its next possession after an offensive rebound leads to two free throws from DeMarre Carroll to give the Raptors a 4-point lead with 16 seconds left.

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The immediate feeling was that this was a pretty bad loss for the Thunder. It was the second game in a row that they gave up a commanding lead. There were some definite short-falls overall with them getting to the line only 14 times (Toronto took 39 free throws), the 19 turnovers and giving up 50 points in the paint. But it’s not like at 3-2 the season is in trouble.

The offense down the stretch in particular, I don’t think you can complain about lots of Westbrook and Durant pick-and-rolls which we saw. Westbrook’s decisions to drive weren’t bad. He and KD both missed shots they typically make. Maybe Durant could have had more touches but Westbrook was the man all night, Durant even referred to him as the Thunder’s best player.

The two were surrounded by Morrow and Ibaka for a lot in the final minutes but they had their own opportunities so we didn’t see the ball swinging around much.

As you go back through the play-by-play, it’s really the defense that was maybe worse. Stops are sometimes the best ways to get easy buckets and the Thunder didn’t get many.

Durant said the Thunder are still learning the offense but that wasn’t an excuse. Players don’t want to make excuses, but it’s clear there is still a learning period the Thunder are going through, and that explains some of the offensive issues.

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What the Thunder ran down the stretch Wednesday may have produced very little results. In theory, it was good stuff and ultimately not the biggest reason for the loss.