Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Suns (12/31/12)
Houston, the Thunder no longer have a problem. Whatever was ailing Oklahoma City's shooting was cured by the Rockets' non-existent defense and plentiful turnovers. After four straight nights of struggling, the Thunder exploded for 124 points in Houston. Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha, two of the biggest culprits in the shooting slump, posted effective field goal (eFG%) marks of .579 and .689 respectively. The rest of the team snapped out of the slump as well, with a team eFG% of .548 on the night. Next up is a trip home to host the Suns, losers of five in a row.
New Year's Resolution: Cut Back on the Turnovers
Now that the Thunder appear to have returned to their old ways of shooting efficiently, it may be time for the team to address a less troubling, but more persistent problem. Turnovers have plagued Oklahoma City all season, and the team still ranks dead last in the NBA with a turnover percentage (TOV%) of 15.0. They won the turnover battle against Houston, but only because the Rockets turned the ball over 24 times, just slightly worse than the Thunder's 21 turnovers.
Phoenix will need any way to stay in this game that it can possibly get, and turnovers stand out as the Suns' best hope. Phoenix has not done much right this year, but it does have the fourth lowest TOV% in the game at 12.5 and has forced the eighth highest TOV% at 14.3. They probably will not gift Oklahoma City all of the points off of mistakes that Houston did, so the Thunder cannot afford a backslide in the shooting department.
Oklahoma City is not exactly a three point shooting team in terms of chucking up deep shots. They rank 22nd in the NBA in threes attempted, putting up just under 19 a game. However, they drain 40.2 percent of those, second best in basketball. Against Houston, the Thunder fired from deep 29 times, connecting on 13 of those attempts.
A similar game plan of relying on the three might be in order tonight as no team is worse than Phoenix when it comes to three point defense. The Suns let shooters get open on the perimeter and do not close out, allowing opponents to sink 40.4 percent of their attempts from downtown. If the Thunder get going early from deep, a lot of interior looks could open up later in the game.
All appears to be right in Oklahoma City once again. Closing out 2012 with a good win over the Suns could confirm that the brief shooting slump is completely over.