Thunder clip LA in impressive NYE victory

OKC Thunder were close to perfection in the final game of 2016 garnering an easy win over the Clippers.

About the only blip in an otherwise dominant Thunder win was the initial air ball Domantas Sabonis opened the evening with. Up and down the roster there were stand out performances punctuated by Russell Westbrook‘s first half triple-double. Remarkably this was not the fastest triple-double in NBA history (3rd) nor was it the biggest trip-dub news of the night.

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With :90 seconds remaining in the first quarter Westbrook subbed out having already collected 6 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds!  To be clear, as spectacular as Westbrook was, there were so many positives to draw from on this evening. Granted he Clippers are devastated by injury, yet when LA began the season 16-2, pundits enthused it was due to their incredible depth.

OKC’s defense was masterful in the opening frame as the Thunder transition defense was delivered to perfection. Andre Roberson chased J.J. Redick through, around and under screens blanketing him like a layer of freshly fallen snow.

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After missing 9 consecutive games Victor Oladipo returned showing zero rust. Moreover, he transitioned quickly into the newly implemented ball and player movement which was effectively utilized during his absence. Considering Cameron Payne‘s return (projected for January 7) will offer yet another ball handler and scorer there is ample reason for optimism this Thunder unit are headed up the ladder.

To that end, by virtue of the win the Thunder leap frog the Clippers into fifth place in the West. OKC’s 21-13 record equals the Jazz who also pushed past the Clippers into a home court position. Since the Jazz won the only meeting between the squads they have the current edge, which gives further relevance to the upcoming January 23rd match between the squads. For the Clippers the loss tonight extends that negative streak to 6th in a row.

Dominant First Quarter:

By far the opening frame was the most satisfying as the Thunder built a lead of 19-4 with 3:42 remaining in the quarter.  As spectators sat back awaiting the inevitable Clipper run to make things interesting it never came. Each time someone like Brandon Bass got on a roll the Thunder simply upped their efforts  on defense.

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By the end of the first quarter the Thunder led 33-12.  Of note the Clippers 12 points were the lowest opponent score registered in any quarter this season.  LA shot 5 of 22 from the field, were 0 -9 from deep, couldn’t penetrate the paint, or beat the stifling Thunder transition D nor were they able to stop OKC in that regard. The Thunder shot 57% from the field in this frame while holding the Clippers to 22%
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By the half the Thunder led by 29 points, Westbrook already had earned his 16th triple double  and the squad seemingly couldn’t take a wrong step. Rookie Alex Abrines did his best Reggie Miller intimation scoring 9 points in 53 seconds.


Take your pick from the many:

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Westbrook records third fastest triple- double in history:

Finding fitting superlatives to describe what Westbrook does at this point are futile, there are none that serve him justice.  Although the pundits were busy gushing over the fellow with the beard’s 53 point triple-double, Westbrook seemed more than content to enjoy extended rest watching his squad hold the lead he helped orchestrate.  This was his 16th triple-double of the season featuring 17 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists throwing in 2 steals for good measure.

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Suffice to say there is plenty of room for optimism especially as it appears the offense is finally on track and here to stay. With so many road games upcoming  this revelation came at the perfect  time.

Next up the Thunder play the Bucks in Milwaukee on Monday, January 2nd.

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