With Oklahoma City absent of Lu Dort for the fourth time in five games, the Thunder fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 121-90. For the Thunder, their loss marks the fourteenth-straight pillaging in a row, tying their longest franchise losing streak set back in their inaugural 2008-09 season. In the short-term, the loss moved their overall record to 20-41 on the year while being sandwiched with the fifth-best lottery odds, given a 1.5-game cushion between the fourth and sixth best team. Philadelphia snapped out of a four-game losing stint with the victory, resting with the two-seed in the East on a 40-21 record.
Philadelphia starters Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Furkan Korkmaz were all listed as questionable leading up to Monday’s contest — they kept the Thunder in check early. The 76ers carried a 16-11 lead through four, using a pair of Seth Curry triples to lift themselves up. The Thunder quickly returned fire with a 5-0 run, abusing a slew of Maledon-Brown pick-and-rolls with Bazley drives to create crevices in the defense. The game flickered between one-and-two possession advantages until the final three minutes when Philadelphia took a 7-0 run off the insertion of Oklahoma City’s small-ball lineup — ending the frame up 34-26. Both teams shot in the mid-fifties from the floor in this game’s opening period, but the Thunder’s paint-oriented offense (20 points in the paint) couldn’t stack with the 76ers four made triples.
Twenty-two seconds — that’s how long Oklahoma City’s deficit rested in single-digits following the quarter’s first bucket. Philadelphia notched a ten-point lead after a Shake Milton runner and there was little holding them back. The Thunder clipped the hole to nine at the 5 minute, 53 second mark following a Moses Brown transition flush, that stint was immediately followed with seven 76ers points unanswered, capping the half off 60-45 ending with a Ben Simmons dunk. Ty Jerome held the Thunder together in the second with 10 quarter points (3-of-3 FG,) but the nagging presence of Joel Embiid and a 7-point quarter from Shake Milton proved to be too much.
Philadelphia outperformed Oklahoma City 56-to-47 percent in the first half, but their real bread-and-butter came from the perimeter. The 76ers shot 7-of-13 (53.8%) from distance while the Thunder hit a paltry 3-of-13 (23.1%) attempts in that span. To add to the wounds, the Thunder’s 13 collective turnovers translated to 12 extra points on the other end.
The 76ers opened up a 20-point advantage in the third quarter’s first two minutes capitalizing on two Thunder turnovers to bolster their 9-2 run. As the 76ers gashed the game to a 27-point lead, Mark Daigneault placed Thunder newcomer Charlie Brown Jr. in for the final four minutes of the period. Philadelphia inflated their margin to thirty with a minute remaining, heading into the fourth up 93-66.
Daigneault left his starters loose for the first four minutes of the quarter, but as the 76ers lead snowballed, more and more pieces trickled out for the bench mob. Charlie Brown Jr. was given an extensive six minute run alongside his bench co-stars, but with a Philly lead that ranged up to 37 — this game had already been settled.
Philadelphia ran away with the game as their mid-fifties shooting coupled with a 14-of-31 showing (45.2%) from deep left no breathing room for the Thunder, who shot in the mid-forties overall and a feeble 7-of-30 (23.3%) from three.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers in scoring with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting off just 23 minutes. Five players on the roster tallied 10-to-12 points on the night as the torch often was handed off in Embiid’s absence. This constant power shift was pretty exemplary of the night as the 76ers all-in approach led to 27 assists and a season-high 22 steals.
The Thunder were on the opposite side of the coin Monday as they let up a season-high 30 turnovers in the game for 35 76ers points by the final buzzer. This turnover bug for Oklahoma City has been lingering around the franchise ever since the start of the month as this marks the seventh time in April they have compiled 20 plus turnovers in a game.
With members Aleksej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon, Kenrich Williams, and Svi Mykhailiuk totaling 5 turnovers a piece while Darius Bazley cracked 4 — there was clear dysfunction in the starting unit. Despite the Thunder’s core stumbling, Ty Jerome stuck to his pace-and-space routine off the bench to post a game-high 22 points (8-of-12 FG) while recording 2 assists and just 1 turnover. Jerome drained 4 of the team’s 7 three pointers on the night while using high-ball screens to seep into Philly’s deeper coverages for mid-range and runner buckets.
Moses Brown pieced a nice bounce back game with 11 points (5-of-8 FG) and 8 rebounds while his big-man co-star Isaiah Roby numbered 7 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. In the case of Roby, his small-ball promotion was due in part to Tony Bradley’s absence, but also a hot two-game stint. Roby’s touch seemed to fizzle away on Monday as his calling card of playing “stretch five” was nonexistent in the game, going a blank 0-of-5 on threes.
Darius Bazley stayed close to the basket for 14 points and 7 rebounds as did point-guard Theo Maledon, who finished the night with 11 points (4-of-8 FG) and 2 steals.
Thunder newcomer Charlie Brown Jr. got a trollish serving of minutes from Mark Daigneault early in the contest with a 49-second appearance in quarter one, and it seemed like that’d be all he got. That all changed as the game widened up for Philly as Brown Jr. got to play in bits in pieces throughout the final three quarters for 11 minutes. In his 11 minutes Brown Jr. looked like one of Oklahoma City’s top dogs, as he ironed out 5 points (1-of-4 FG) and 2 steals. On paper, those numbers look horrendous, put during his whole body of work, Brown Jr. was pestering ball-handlers with heavy shot contests and even ball strips.
The Oklahoma City Thunder (20-41) will face the Boston Celtics (32-29) tomorrow for a back-to-back closer in a game that will either set a new franchise worst, or flip the page on what has been a treacherous month of Thunder basketball (for those wanting them to win, that is.)