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Five Thoughts Following Christmas Day Game

Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder gave their fans probably the best gift for Christmas: a strong win against the Houston Rockets, 112-107.

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The Thunder entered the game on a four games winning streak while the Rockets lost their previous two. Oklahoma City needed a solid game to keep up the momentum, and the team delivered probably the second most convincing performance of the year (only behind the blowout win against the Warriors).

Everything clicked perfectly against Houston: the offense was smooth, there has been a lot of ball and players movement, smart shot selection, and everyone stayed engaged in his role. There were few silly turnovers, but a powerful defensive performance compensates for it.

Game after game, this team is showing improvements, especially on offense. It’s fun to watch, and it’s scary to think how good they might become.


Five Thoughts

In the past five games, and again last night, Russell Westbrook is playing his best basketball to date. What is he doing differently? The most interesting thing is his defense for sure. He is really playing some hard defense, he fights over screens and doesn’t gamble for a steals all the time. On offense he is being smart, good shots selection, no three-pointer, he moves the ball, and he keeps everyone engaged. The challenge now is to keep up with this style of playing.

Andre Roberson is one of the best defensive players in the league. Yesterday he showed once again why. He had an excellent defensive game and took Harden out of his game. Most of James’ points came when guarded by other players and he struggled a lot against Roberson’s length. Dre played great also on offense. He did his job of cutting and screening where he is always lethal. His final stat line: 8 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks.

Westbrook’s co-stars, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, played a great game as well. George is finding his rhythm on offense (24 points, 8-15 FG) while his defense is worth a look for the defensive player of the year. Anthony was hot as well on offense (20 points, 8-12 FG) and despite some breakdowns, his defense was alright.

Steven Adams is becoming one of the best and most complete centers in the league. He improved so much on every aspect of his game that, if it wasn’t for Oladipo’s explosion, Adams could have a shot for Most Improved Player of the year. Also last night he was fundamental for the Thunder. He finished with 15 points (7-9 FG), 10 rebounds (7 on offense), 1 steal, and 3 blocks.

I thought Donovan did a good job with the minute’s distribution: he played essentially nine players, with Huestis, Grant, and Felton receiving the most playing time within the bench players. Patterson played nine minutes but didn’t have a major impact.


Stats

OKLAHOMA CITY

  • FG% 54, 3P% 44, FT% 78, ASSISTS 21, REBOUNDS 40, STEALS 9, TURNOVERS 14

HOUSTON

  • FG% 43, 3P% 32, FT% 80, ASSISTS 23, REBOUNDS 38, STEALS 11, TURNOVERS 13

Up Next:

The Thunder will play on Wednesday night at home against the Toronto Raptors, tip-off 7 p.m. CT

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