After a slow first quarter, the Thunder erupted in the second one and scored thirty-nine points. The offense wasn’t the only thing working, the defense was pretty solid as well. However, in the second part of the game, the Thunder tried to make things more interesting by allowing Memphis to come back into the game. With Adams out with fouls troubles and a not-engaged-defense, Memphis was able to cut the disadvantage to only eight points by the end of the third quarter. Things didn’t get better in the fourth one: the Grizzlies kept fighting and found themselves down only one point with 47 seconds left in the game: 115-114. However, that was the last basket scored by Memphis. First Anthony drained a three to spread the lead to four points, then Westbrook blocked Evans and iced the game at the free-throw line.
This has been a much-needed win for the Thunder, not only because is great to go into the break with a win, but also because all the teams fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference won.
Oklahoma City is still 5th in the West, with a 33-26 record.
Yesterday, Russell Westbrook looked more like the usual Russell Westbrook. After a sloppy performance against the Cavs on Tuesday night, Westbrook had an amazing offensive game. He finished with 23 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and 4 turnovers. His ability to find open teammates is great, and the whole team took advantage from it. His defense is still not ideal, but at least he blocked Evan’s shot in clutch time.
Paul George has made at least five threes in five consecutive games. That is impressive. Last night George finished with 28 points while shooting 10-15 from the floor and 6-9 from behind the arc. Most of his three-pointer came from spot-up situations and assists from Westbrook. The chemistry between these two players is growing game after game and by April it could reach an interesting point. In the month of February, Paul George is averaging 29.6 points per game (50% FG, 48.1% 3PT).
The second unit finally played a good all-around game. They scored a total of forty points, shot the ball well, and compete on the defensive end. Patrick Patterson was able to get some shots up and he delivered, while the other surprise has been Terrence Ferguson. Last night, after not seeing the court against the Cavs, the rookie played some solid minutes, hit some important shots, and showed, once again, his potential.
The Thunder had a franchise record for three points made against Memphis. In fact, Oklahoma City scored seventeen three-pointers (on thirty-seven attempts), one more than the previous record of sixteen. Oklahoma City has indeed the firepower to be one of the best three points shooting teams in the league, and hopefully, they will be able to unlock this aspect of the game more and more after the break.
The run for a playoff spot in the Western Conference is wild. There are eight teams fighting for six spots. Four games and a half separates these teams, and the Thunder are in the middle of it. Right now, Oklahoma City is sitting in the fifth place, two games behind the Spurs for the third place, and two games and a half above Utah for the tenth place. After the break, it will be fundamental for the Thunder to play at a high level because dropping winnable games in the last two months might be really dangerous.
- FG% 49.4, 3P% 45.9, FT% 68.6, ASSISTS 26, REBOUNDS 38, STEALS 7, TURNOVERS 9
- FG% 51.2, 3P% 51.9, FT% 80.0, ASSISTS 26, REBOUNDS 41, STEALS 6, TURNOVERS 12
After the All-Star break, the Thunder will be back in action on Thursday night in Sacramento against the Kings, tip-off 9.30 CT
Photos by Joe Murphy