OKLAHOMA CITY — Scoring remains the Oklahoma City Thunder’s problem.
The Thunder ranked just 22nd in points per possession heading into Monday night’s action. They’ve treaded somewhere in that range all season, bouncing between the middle of the pack and the top of the NBA’s cellar.
It’s something coach Billy Donovan is still trying to figure out — and something for which he’ll take a bit of the blame.
“I have to take responsibility for this…The first thing you’re trying to do is obviously set a defensive foundation…I felt like if we could really establish our defense, that would be the most important thing,” Donovan said. “They’ve done a really good job of that. I also think from an offensive standpoint, just because we’re utilizing different personnel in different situations, we’re utilizing different lineups, guys are in different roles than they were in previous situations with previous teams, that’s going to be some time we’re going to have to work on that.”
The Thunder are allowing the second-fewest points per possession in the NBA. Yet, the offensive struggles have manifested themselves in two ways that are notable to Donovan.
“Our deep paint numbers are down from what they’ve been from my last two years here. That’s a big part of our offense,” he said. “We have to find ways to get there. When we do get there it generates fouls, it generates high percentage shots and it generally generates kick out threes. Then I think the other thing too is that we have to be able to get to the free throw line.”
The Thunder were just 17th in the NBA in free-throw rate heading into Monday night. They were 16th in shots attempted inside the restricted area.
• No PG: Paul George did not practice Monday because of an illness. The Thunder have not provided a timetable for when they expect him to return.
George shot just 1 of 12 in OKC’s 97-81 loss at the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
• Top performer: Oklahoma City Blue guard Daniel Hamilton has been named NBA G League Performer of the Week for averaging 18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 11.3 assists over three games since Nov. 20.
Hamilton is now averaging 19.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.8 assists with the Blue this season.
He is on a two-way contract, meaning the Thunder can assign him and recall him to and from the G League however they please without him counting against their roster limits. Teams are allowed to have 15 players under contract as well as two two-way players.
Hamilton has gotten into one game with the Thunder so far this season.
• Another firing: The Memphis Grizzlies have fired head coach David Fizdale, the team announced Monday.
The unexpected move came in the midst of an eight-game losing streak and the day after Fizdale benched star center Marc Gasol for the fourth quarter of a loss.
Fizdale is the second NBA coach to get fired this season, following Earl Watson, whom the Phoenix Suns let go a few weeks ago.
Fizdale went 50-51 in his year-plus coaching the Grizzlies.