Led by an outstanding performance of Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder earned a much-needed win against the Golden State Warriors, 108-91.
In the days before this matchup, both teams downplayed its importance. It was defined as “just another game”. However, the feeling on and outside of the court prove something completely different. The crowd was all fired up while a lot of trash talk was being exchanged on the court.
The Thunder took the lead from the 5.49-minute mark in the first quarter and never looked back, a forty-eight minutes effort on both ends of the floor. Maybe for the first time this season, Oklahoma City played a full game up to its potential. The Thunder couldn’t have chosen a better day.
Russell Westbrook has been incredible last night. He finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, and 6 turnovers. He was all over the court: aggressive on defense and an unstoppable tornado on offense. This is the type of Westbrook the Thunder needed, badly. Less thinking more playing.
Obviously, Westbrook will be the cover of this game, but Paul George played an outstanding game as well. He finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, and 10 deflections. That is an incredible contribution, especially on defense. It has been only 17 games into the season, but George made already a case for defensive player of the year. He is leading the league in steals (2.6 per game) and deflections (5.1 per game). He is giving hard times to whoever he guards.
Billy Donovan has been unfairly criticized as the main reason for this slow start. Yesterday his rotations and game plan were also a reason why the Thunder won the battle. Donovan changed his rotations completely, adapting them perfectly to the Warriors’ ones. As in the previous two years, Donovan likes to experiment with lineups in the beginning of the season. This helps him to find the best fit for his team in order to succeed in playoff time.
A big shout out also to Steven Adams: the big Kiwi has been a huge factor for the Thunder and a big problem for the Warriors’ defense. He finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds (6 on offense), and 2 steals. Obviously, his contribution has been bigger than his numbers. On offense, he looked super comfortable in taking shots while his screens have been lethal. He locked down the Thunder’s defense for the past two seasons and he is getting better game after game.
Despite scoring only 12 points, the bench players held their ground. Last night, Donovan decided to have always one or two starters on the court with the second unit, this helped them incredibly. If offensively they didn’t produce much, on the other side of the floor the Warriors struggled to get points due to a strong defensive effort, especially from Jerami Grant.
- FG% 45.6 3P% 32.0, FT% 69.2%, ASSISTS 16, REBOUNDS 50, STEALS 15, TURNOVERS 16
- FG% 41.3, 3P% 32.3, FT% 83.3%, ASSISTS 22, REBOUNDS 39, STEALS 11, TURNOVERS 22
The Thunder will play against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, tip-off 7 pm CT.
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images