OKLAHOMA CITY — Be it a strength or a weakness, called for or not, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan will almost always find something positive to emphasize.
Following Game 4, a 111-98 loss in which the Thunder shot 37.5 percent overall (33 of 88) as well as from 3-point land (15 of 40), there may not have been much positive in the results, so Donovan focused on the Thunder’s intentions.
“I thought for the most part we tried to play downhill, we tried to play at the basket, we tried to go to the rim,” he said. “When they shut things off, I thought we did a good job of making the extra pass, and I thought we generated better shots there in the second half from behind the [3-point] line.”
The Thunder’s shooting woes actually go further than the general numbers.
Sunday, Oklahoma City attempted 16 attempts on the break, but made only seven. Portland also made seven, but in 10 attempts, and OKC was outscored on the break to 20 to 17.
The Thunder were also worse in the paint than they were from 3-point land, canning just 11 of 30 attempts.
For the series, OKC is shooting 41.3 percent (142 of 344) and 30.8 percent (40 of 130) from 3-point land.
• No ‘Next question’: Following Game 4, former Transcript sports editor and current Oklahoman sports columnist, Berry Tramel, for the first time in more than three months was not answered with “Next question” from Russell Westbrook.
Tramel asked Westbrook about the defense against Portland’s Damian Lillard, which held him to two first-half field goals, against the defense against him in the second half, when Lillard scored 15 third-quarter points.
“That’s a good question,” Westbrook said. “Not sure.”
Related or not, NBA commissioner Adam Silver was in Oklahoma City for Game 4.
• Stotts speaks: Even though seemingly everything is going Portland’s way, coach Terry Stotts, even off-handed, came up with something that must be improved.
If Donovan is careful to couch everything to positive affect, Stotts simply speaks.
“I thought Enes [Kanter’s] interior defense has been very good. Both he and Zach [Collins] did a nice job protecting the rim,” he said. “I thought our pick-and-roll defense was where it needed to be. We got sucked in on too many 3s, but I think up and down the roster we’re locked in on what we want to do coverage-wise.”
He liked about everything, but he still took issue with his team defending 3s.
• Schroder offers critique: He’s not under a huge contract, and he doesn’t start, but on occasion, Dennis Schroder will actually say something that, ever-so-slightly, takes his entire team to task. Sunday night after Game 4 was one of those nights.
“We’ve got Steve-O (Steven Adams), you know, who didn’t see the ball a lot. I think he’s a big piece of what we do,” he said. “[We’ve] got to rim run, get the ball and put pressure on the rim. [Paul George] and Russ, they got to go to the basket as well … [We] just can’t take no 3s, no pull-up jumpers contested. Can’t do all that. Just got to put pressure on the rim. But it’s everyone in the locker room.”