Oklahoma City started the game in the same way as it did for the past month: effortless on both ends of the floor. It took the Thunder eighteen minutes to score 31 points against the Suns in the first part of the game. When everything was pointing to another horrible performance, Russell Westbrook came back on the floor and ignited the team. The Thunder led by eleven points at the half, and from there on the contest wasn’t a contest anymore. Oklahoma City cruised until the final buzzer for a much-needed dominant win.
Russell Westbrook played an A+ game. Not only he was super efficient (11-14 from the floor), but he involved his teammates: great passing (9 assists), great energy, he was under control (only 2 turnovers), and he didn’t take a three-pointer. Surprisingly, Westbrook was also engaged defensively, this is always a plus. With a tough schedule ahead, the Thunder will need this type of Westbrook to make the final push for the playoff run.
The Corey Brewer’s experiment with the starting line-up worked well last night. Brewer did an awesome job on offense: he moved all the time, he cut, he screened for his teammates, but most importantly, he wasn’t shy with the ball. That is the big difference between him and Huestis. With this being said, Brewer did also a solid job defensively. He didn’t foul much and it looks like he is learning how to play in the Thunder’s system. His final stat-line is pretty impressive too: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 steal.
While Paul George and Carmelo Anthony had a quiet night, Steven Adams played another impressive game. He was all over the place on both ends of the floor. He finished the game with 16 points (7-8 FG), 12 rebounds (6 on offense), 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks. Adams will probably not finish in the top list as one of the most improved players of the year but, he sure does belong there.
Despite an “easy” opponent, the bench struggled last night. The second unit combined for only eighteen points, and, if we exclude the ten points scored by Abrines and Collison in garbage time, then the points are only eight. The starting five took care of the business last night, but the backups need to play with more consistency for the Thunder to be able to succeed.
The Thunder need to use this blowout win against the Suns to gain some momentum. Except for the games against the Kings on Monday and Hawks on Tuesday, the schedule will be really tough for Oklahoma City until the end of the season. Every win and every possession will count probably double from here on. In the next four games, the Thunder will face the Spurs (home), the Kings (home), the Hawks (away), and the Clippers (home). There is no room for mistakes anymore.
- FG% 52.5, 3P% 39.4, FT% 66.7, ASSISTS 21, REBOUNDS 49, STEALS 6, TURNOVERS 18
- FG% 33.7, 3P% 24.3, FT% 88.9, ASSISTS 15, REBOUNDS 43, STEALS 9, TURNOVERS 15
The Thunder will play against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, tip-off 7.30 pm CT
Photos by Layen Murdoch