Oklahoma City, for once, reversed the script of the game. Instead of starting strong and finish slow, they did the opposite. Was this wanted? Most likely not, but the energy and the effort showed on both ends of the floor in the last twelve minutes were more than encouraging for everybody.
Oklahoma City has won now three games in a row, matching their longest winning streak of the season. With a favorable schedule in the month of December, they might be able to climb some positions in the Western Conference standings. In fact, despite their actual negative record (11-12), the Thunder are only 2 games behind the 4th seed.
How did the Thunder come back to win this game? One possession at a time. They found themselves trailing by 17 points with four minutes left in the third quarter, but this time they didn’t give up. They forced Utah to miss shots, they took their time on offense and went for the best shot possible. While the Jazz might have become tired in the fourth period (it was the second night of a back to back for them), most of the praise should go to Oklahoma City’s last quarter approach.
Steven Adams has been, without a doubt, the best and most consistent player on this team in the past three games. Yesterday night, he pulled another rabbit out of his hat and finished the game with 20 points and 9 rebounds (5 of those on the offensive glass). Not only did he have high numbers but he also showed a high efficiency: 9-10 from the floor and 2-3 from the free throw line. Adams’s average numbers during this three-win streak: 22 points (82.4% FG), 8.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals.
Last night, Russell Westbrook has been the offensive spark that this team badly needed. He recorded his seventh triple-double of the season: 34 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds. The stats are looking fantastic but the biggest take away is his composure in crunch time. He didn’t force anything, he took good shots, and found his teammates in their comfortable spots.
After a horrific offensive first half, Paul George redeemed himself in the last 24 minutes. He scored 17 points while shooting 6-8 from the floor (2-2 from behind the arc). Despite Geroge’s ups and downs on the offensive end, his defense has been on point all season and yesterday was no exception.
Andre Roberson’s defense was one of the keys to the Thunder win. Rookie Donovan Mitchell feasted all game without anyone being really able to stop him. Roberson rolled his sleeves up and went to work hard in the fourth quarter. Lately, on offense, he has been more important than usual. He doesn’t stand outside the three-point line but he keeps on moving and cutting. His teammates are doing a great job in finding him in the paint area.
- FG% 48.1 3P% 22.2, FT% 69.2, ASSISTS 18, REBOUNDS 59, STEALS 11, TURNOVERS 19
- FG% 43.0, 3P% 33.3, FT% 71.4, ASSISTS 18, REBOUNDS 42, STEALS 16, TURNOVERS 18
On Thursday evening, the Thunder will play against the Brooklyn Nets in Mexico City, tip-off 9 p.m. CT