The Oklahoma City Thunder emphatically defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 113-96 at Chesepeake on Sunday night. Despite a slightly uneven performance, the Thunder were in control for a majority of this one.
Poor Domantas Sabonis. In the first three minutes of the game, Julius Randle had 8 points and two easy and-one’s; Sabonis had two fouls. Domas was promptly benched and things didn’t improve for him when he returned in the third. He picked up two more quick fouls which were drawn by Randle again, and his night was over early.
At one point in the first, the Thunder found themselves down eight, and Billy Donovan called a timeout. They were a different team after the timeout, moving the ball beautifully on offense and running the floor with reckless abandon in transition.
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Their transition attack was so strong tonight that it continually had the Lakers back on their heels, opening nice passing lanes and creating a lot of space for clean pull-ups. They finished with 26 fast break points.
Westbrook fed Steven Adams early and often to start the game, but Enes Kanter stole the show. Kanter put on a dazzling display of low post moves; he was perfect in the first frame with 8 points on 4-4 shooting. Kanter would finish the night with 16 points and 6 rebounds and shot an efficient 8-11 in 22 minutes. The bench played a huge part in the early goings of this one, and the Thunder closed the first frame with 30 points.
Oct 30, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Anthony Morrow (2) reacts after hitting a 3 point shot against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Thunder returned to a more stagnant offense to start the second, and then Anthony Morrow made his season debut in the second quarter. The effect of Morrow on the floor was almost immediate. Russ fed the sharpshooter, who shot 3-5 for 6 points in six minutes in the 2nd.
As the starters checked back into the game, the offense flowed once again, and Russell found Victor Oladipo on a must see three quarter court pass in transition.
I know right? It was sick. Anyways, the Thunder finished the first half with 17 assists on 23 made baskets. Three starters were in double digits at the break, and they were outrebounding the Lakers by 7. The big men played a crucial role in this one, especially early as the Lakers simply didn’t have the size to keep up.
The Thunder struggled from the field in the third, shooting 8-26 from the field, and 2-11 in the last four and a half minutes, allowing the Lakers to close the gap. The Lakers got to within four with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but a 13-0 run by the Thunder, fueled by Russell Westbrook, in the next three minutes sealed the game for the Thunder.
Oct 30, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) and Los Angeles Lakers forward Nick Young (0) react after a play during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of Westbrook, another day, another triple double. The dude is continually making the amazing look mundane, finishing the game with 33 points, 16 assists, and 12 rebounds and he shot 50 percent from the field. Yawn.
The Thunder played poor half-court defense for a majority of the night, and they were extremely lucky that Nick Young was ice cold, as he shot 2-9 in the first half, missing several wide open three pointers. He’d finish the night 4-11 from the field and 3-10 from three. Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell each had 20 points for the Lakers. The Lakers as a team missed a good amount of quality looks tonight, shooting 35-87 (40.2%) from the field, and 7-32 (21.9%) from behind the arc.
That being said, the Thunder were extremely opportunistic on the defensive end scoring 34 points on 22 turnovers. However, they were careless with the ball at times, especially Victor Oladipo, who had three bad turnovers, the worst coming when he attempted an unnecessary behind the back pass on a fast break.
The Thunder finished the game with 20 turnovers, a number they are going to have to work on bringing down. Oladipo had a nice game however, putting up 20 points on 7-20 from the field and 3-7 from deep. He chipped in four assists as well, and he has the potential to develop as a nice secondary distributor behind Westbrook, especially if he cuts down on silly turnovers. Steven Adams had a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds on 50 percent from the floor.
The Thunder are 3-0 to end the first week of the season. They get their first real test of the season on Wednesday, heading to the Staples Center to see Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and the rest of the Clippers, in the first half of the first back-to-back of the season for the Thunder.