As it was for the previous two games, the first half has been full of ups and downs, with the Thunder able to gain a solid lead in the first quarter and then relax in the second one. However, once again, another impressive second-half performance helped the Thunder to win their third consecutive game.
In this three games stretch the Thunder looked like a completely different team in the second half. They held their opponents to an average of 34.6 points, while on the other end, they scored 49.7 in the last twenty-four minutes.
It’s fair to note that Oklahoma City played three teams that are below .500 (however, 2 of them beat the Thunder in their first match-up) but it’s a good trend going into a harder part of the season.
With last night’s win, the Thunder’s record improved to 25-20. Five wins above .500 are the best Oklahoma City had this season (this is the third time during this season they are five wins above .500).
Carmelo Anthony was on fire last night. It felt like he turned the clock back a few years, well, at least offensively. He finished the game with 27 points (10-15 FG, 3-4 3PT, 3-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal. In his new role (catch and shoot), Anthony has been great, he helped the Thunder to unlock their offensive potential, and this is fundamental for the team to succeed.
Steven Adams is a beast. He is worth every penny the Thunder are paying him this season, and he is currently the most constant player on the team. Steven plays hard on defense, as he always did, and on offense, he drastically improved. Adams improved not only as a scorer, last night he finished with 21 points on 10-12 shooting but also as an offensive rebounder. Out of ten rebounds that he grabbed yesterday, seven were on offense. Adams is leading the league in offensive rebounds, with 5.1 per game.
Russell Westbrook had a weird game. He was very aggressive on offense, but he failed to deliver an efficient performance by missing some easy looks (8-22 FG). Westbrook still finished the game with 19 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 turnovers in only 28 minutes of playing time.
It was good to see Andre Roberson back on the court. He played only 17 minutes, but he was immediately effective: 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block. Not a bad start after sitting out for almost three weeks. The Thunder need him, this year more than ever, not only to balance the defense but also for the hustle that he brings every night on both ends of the floor.
The Thunder are now third in the league in defensive rating at 102.4, sitting behind the Boston Celtics (99.7) and the San Antonio Spurs (101.0). If the Thunder can keep on building on their defense, then they will just get better as an overall team in this second part of the season.
- FG% 48.4, 3P% 34.3, FT% 83.3, ASSISTS 22, REBOUNDS 54, STEALS 10, TURNOVERS 17
- FG% 46.9, 3P% 38.5, FT% 100.0, ASSISTS 25, REBOUNDS 30, STEALS 9, TURNOVERS 18
The Thunder will play Saturday afternoon in Cleveland against the Cavs, tip-off 2.30 CT.
Cover Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images