The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 102-91 in their second game of the preseason. The win itself is probably the least important take away from the game. Yes, it might sound odd but during preseason the score doesn’t really matter too much. Players’ chemistry, ball movement, and defensive rotations are more important to look at. Thunder’s fans can be happy about what the team showed last night.
Let’s begin with last season’s MVP. Russell Westbrook played only in the first quarter, but we could see that he is still good as Westbrook is. He is in shape, fast, and is indeed willing to move the ball. He had everyone involved and looked comfortable sharing the court with the two other superstars. Westbrook finished with 9 points, 4 assists, and 1 rebound in only 9 minutes of game time.
Paul George played the most minutes of all players, 27. He finished with 25 points (7-14 FG, 3-7 3FG), 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. He looked solid and already confident on both ends of the floor.
Carmelo Anthony played 17 minutes, all in the first half. He didn’t shoot particularly well (4-10 FG, 1-4 3FG) but when he has the ball in his hands the opposing defense is all focused on him. That is good. As soon as the chemistry with the other lineups next to him gets higher, it will lead to a lot of open shots.
Defense The rotations were good, help from the weak side as well. There were smart double teams on Davis and Cousins that forced them into difficult shots. Even though there are obviously still some improvements to be made, the Thunder gave up only a total of 44 points until halftime (18 in the second quarter).
Offense It needs to get smoother, it’s still in an adjustment phase and it was also the first game for the big 3 all together. Despite all of it, you could already see the difference in having Westbrook paired with two stars like George and Anthony on the court. There is space where to operate, the ball doesn’t stop too much, good pick and rolls, and everyone on the court is a threat.
Rookie It’s definitely too early to judge but the Thunder could have found a little gem in Terrence Ferguson. The rookie obviously needs to gain some weight and play some GLeague minutes, but in these first two preaseason’s games he played his heart out on both ends of the floor. His feet are moving fast on defense and he is not afraid to shoot or attack the basket. Both, George and Anthony had good words for him after the game definding him as being “special” and “willing to learn”.
Still Out Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson are still out, no timetable for their return yet, but the team is optimistic for opening night on Oct. 19th.
Next up On Sunday afternoon, 2 pm CT, the Thunder will play their third preseason game against the Melbourne United.