Oklahoma City Thunder Victory Shows Blueprint To Success

The Oklahoma City Thunder showcased their potential in a drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers. With some of their bench and shooting woes alleviated by a deadline deal, can this team contend with the West’s Elite?

In the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 110-93 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, five players scored in double figures with Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson leading the way with 19 points apiece.

To see those two names at the top of the scoring chart has to crack a smile on even the most skeptical Thunder fan’s face. Roberson, fresh off of being mentioned in several deadline deal possibilities, finished 8-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-3 from deep. Abrines went 5-for-11 from the three-point line as two of the more scrutinized Oklahoma City players flourished.

The two new additions to the Thunder roster, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, also performed admirably in bench minutes. Gibson finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes while McDermott chipped in with eight points, four rebounds and two assists of his own in 18 minutes.

It will take some time for the two former Chicago Bulls to ingratiate themselves within the fabric of the Thunder, but they both seemed receptive and ready to listen. Notice after this Jerami Grant floater finish, McDermott taps his chest as if to say “my bad” to Westbrook after passing up an open three-pointer Russell Westbrook fed him for. He knows his role first and foremost on the team is to make shots.

Gibson and McDermott should only help the team, both on the court and in the locker room, as both have track records of being team-first guys willing to fit within the team concept.

Despite Westbrook going 4-for-15 from the field, the Thunder won going away. Despite the win coming against a lowly Los Angeles Lakers team that looked disinterested for large stretches of the game, that’s still a tremendous sign for a team that was missing its second-leading scorer and relies on one player so heavily.

The game also announced the return of sixth man Enes Kanter, as an admittedly rusty Kanter chipped in four points on 2-of-12 shooting in 18 minutes.

Oklahoma City has its full attack going forward (barring any setbacks with Victor Oladipo) and looks primed to make a push toward a top-four seed in the West. Three games separate the Thunder from the Utah Jazz, and clinching home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs would surely be a momentous achievement for the team that lost Kevin Durant in July.

Moving forward, Oklahoma City have a chance to impose their will inside with the four-headed monster of Steven Adams, Kanter, Gibson and Domantas Sabonis by banging bodies on the interior and dominating the rebounding battle. McDermott will help create more space that the slicing troupe of Thunder guards crave.

The success of Oklahoma City moving forward may depend most on how much their role players can contribute and relieve Westbrook of some of the massive load that he shoulders on a nightly basis. If Friday night was any indication, the Thunder could cause problems around the West heading into May.

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