Thunder Stories

The Weekly Critique: The Trend Continues For OKC

The Thunder split their week into two wins and two losses again. The two wins came against the Memphis Grizzlies at home and against the Kings in Sacramento. Both games were close ones: Oklahoma City defeated Memphis by 8 points and Sacramento by 4 points.
The two losses were both on the road: in Minnesota against the Timberwolves and in Los Angeles against the Clippers. If the two wins have been competitive games we can not say such a thing for the losses. The Timberwolves kept the Thunder to score only 86 points (Minnesota won by 10) while the Clippers took advantage of the absence of Steven Adams and blew Oklahoma City away.

The Games:

Oklahoma City vs Memphis 103-95
Oklahoma City at Minnesota 86-96
Oklahoma City at Sacramento 122-118
Oklahoma City at Los Angeles 98-120

Four Observations:

Mr. Triple-double

Russell Westbrook is having a season for the ages. He is averaging a triple-double after 43 games played: 30.7 points (1st), 10.3 assists (2nd), and 10.5 rebounds (11th).
Westbrook reached his 20th triple-doubles during the game vs the Sacramento Kings. This is the highest number that a player had during a season since Wilt Chamberlain had 22 in the 1966-67 season. The Thunder still have 39 games to play and it seems highly likely that the number of triple-doubles will increase.
Westbrook’s ability to realize triple-doubles is also a big plus for the Thunder record. In fact, Oklahoma City is 16-4 when he has one, 9-14 when he doesn’t.

Steven Adams out

During the 3rd quarter in Sacramento, after a collision with Cousins and Gay, Steven Adams fell and hit his head on the hardwood. Adams had to leave the game and did not come back. The Thunder managed to win against Sacramento but they could not compete against the Los Angeles Clippers without Adams’ support. DeAndre Jordan had his best performance of the season vs Oklahoma City with 19 points and 15 rebounds. In the previous meetings, with Adams on the court, Jordan averaged only 9.6 points and 10 rebounds. This proves one more time the value of Steven Adams on defense for his team. The big kiwi will not play also tonight vs the Warriors. He entered the NBA Concussion Protocol and he’s not clear to play yet.

Baby Steps

Cameron Payne played six games since he is back from the foot injury. He is still rusty and his shot is obviously not there yet (34% FG and 14 % 3PT). However, we can see that his ball handling is already smoother than Christon’s and he is getting back to the game tempo. In the past week, Payne averaged 4.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while playing 16.5 minutes. Payne will make the second unit more solid and dangerous as soon as his condition and game rhythm gets better.

January Halfway 

The Thunder passed halfway through this difficult January. It was known that this month wouldn’t be an easy task. So far the outcome showed mixed results. They played already nine games and their record is four wins and five losses. Six games are left to be played and except the home game versus Dallas, the rest of the games will be a challenge. Five games on the road versus Warriors, Jazz, Pelicans, Cavs, and Spurs. Thunder fans need to buckle up and stay positive despite the possible negative outcome of the next couple of weeks. Smoother waters ahead in February when Oklahoma City will play nine home games out of eleven.

Top Three plays of the week:

  • Jerami Grant is a pro dunker

  • Westbrook to Oladipo in style

  • Westbrook with the steal

Up Next:

Tonight in Oakland the Thunder will face for the second time this season Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. After this game, Oklahoma City will have four, well deserved, days off before facing in Salt Lake City the Utah Jazz on Monday night.

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