The big three played up to expectations, which has been the cornerstone of this team’s early-season problems. George appeared comfortable for the first time since he wore Pacer yellow, Westbrook seemed more comfortable, more like himself, and Anthony was a nuisance on defense.
Melo played a great role. Since he’s taken on the starting power forward position this year, his primary defensive assignment was Blake Griffin. Offensively, Griffin is the heart of this team and if you take away his offensive game it would be a tall order for his team to win. Anthony held him to 17 points and six rebounds on 5-of-19 ( 26.3 percent) shooting, nearly six points, two rebounds and 20 percent shooting less than his season average. Melo’s shots were minimized to just 12 and he only finished with 14 points but tonight, his job was to stop Blake Griffin and he succeeded.
Westbrook looked more like Westbrook. He was aggressive to start the game by finishing his first four baskets at the rim. When he needed to dish the ball, he did that as well. On the defensive end, he fueled many fast breaks and finished the game with 3 steals to go with his 22 points on 8-of-16 (50 percent) shooting. Tonight, he took a backseat role to his counterpart Paul George.
George looked comfortable for the first time since wearing a Thunder uniform. When Westbrook cooled off from his hot start, George immediately picked up the slack. By halftime, he scored 21 points and doubled that for 42 points total on the evening. That’s not all he did, though. George added 9 rebounds and 7 assists to his stat-line while flashing some of his defensive superiority with three steals. Not to mention, shooting 13-for-22 (59 percent) for the game, including 4-of-7 (57.1 percent) from long distance.
Oklahoma City has the star power to have games like this, where one player takes a lead role, one takes a backseat role and the third does more of the dirty work. Friday night, Paul George took the lead role, Russell Westbrook took the backseat role, and Carmelo Anthony did the dirty work en route to their fifth win of the season.
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