The OKC Thunder looked refreshed after their three day staycation this week, cruising to victory over the lowly Pelicans 101-92, at Chesepeake tonight despite another Herculean effort from Anthony Davis.
Oh what a win for the OKC Thunder. The best part is they did it without one of their best players.
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Steven Adams looked like he was going to have a big game tonight, as he had seven points before I even settled in. Unfortunately the big feller sprained his ankle after nine minutes of playing time, and his timetable for return is unknown at this time. If I had to guess, he won’t be playing tomorrow night against Atlanta either.
Dec 4, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) passes the ball over his head in action against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Despite an extremely inefficient night from the field for the Thunder (especially in the first half when they shot 0-15 from deep), tonight’s game was never really in any doubt. The Thunder came out sprinting, finishing the game with 25 fast break points.
OKC also lived in the paint tonight (62 points in the paint), and their defense was the key to a significant portion of their offense (they had 14 points off 11 turnovers, but how quickly they ran the break off defensive rebounds was crucial). The Thunder also moved the ball beautifully as they finished the evening with 24 assists on 41 made baskets.
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On the ugly side, however, were the Thunder’s free throw numbers; they shot an abysmal 50% from the line. They somewhat find the three point stroke in the second half as they finished the game 6-28. 6-13 in the second half is amazing compared to the goose egg they threw up in the first.
Andre Roberson was an unrelenting menace on the perimeter, harassing any and everyone that even came close to crossing his path. Roberson would finish with 13 points on 6-8 shooting, but the highlight of his night was the dunk that came of a beautiful transition sequence in the first quarter that oozed Harlem Globetrotters.
It was all Anthony Davis early for the Pelicans, who was literally the entire team in the first half, finishing with 24 points on 9-17 shooting with 10 boards. The REST of the Pelicans finished the half with 17 points on 7-28 shooting and 18 rebounds. Davis would cool off considerably in the second half shooting 5-15, and he finished the evening with 37 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks, and two steals.
Dec 4, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Enes Kanter came up huge in the absence of Steven Adams, putting up a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes. Coming into the game, Kanter was averaging 12.8 PPG off the bench, good for 6th in the NBA. Victor Oladipo chipped in 15 points and Joffrey Lauvergne had 11 rebounds off the bench. Lauvergne also did an admirable job filling in for Adams.
The Thunder completely took their foot off the pedal in the fourth quarter and allowed the Pelicans to get back to within four points twice in the final frame. This was a completely inexcusable lapse, one that would’ve hurt them against a semi-competent team.
Buddy Hield, who’s been struggling mightily as he transitions to the NBA game, finished with a career high 16 points and hit four threes in the second half. Hield received a nice ovation from Oklahoma Sooner (his alma mater) fans that were in the house.
Anyways, Russ put the final nail in the Pelican coffin with a three pointer with under a minute remaining. Oh, crap, I forgot about Russ!
Guess what? He had his fifth straight triple-double. Westbrook got a triple-double in the third quarter for the fourth time this season. He shot 10-23 from the floor, good for 28 points, added 17 rebounds, and 12 assists, and the magical season continues.
OKC is on a five game winning streak, which just happens to coincide with Westbrook’s triple-double streak. They’re sitting at 13-8 and visit the Hawks in Atlanta tomorrow night in the second half of a back-to-back.