The Oklahoma City Thunder snapped a three-game losing streak with a 109-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in the Smoothie King Center. Russell Westbrook was back to his triple-double ways recording his 24th for the season and 103rd of his career tallying up 26 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists on 52.9 percent shooting from the floor. Westbrook wasn’t at his very best but he managed to do what the game needed him to do and that was to get out of New Orleans with a win.
Paul George struggled again with his shot but managed to score 27 points to go along with eight rebounds, George shooting woes continued against the Pelicans as he shot 37.5 percent from the field to go along with 27.3 percent from three-point range. Carmelo Anthony came up big for the Thunder giving them a long-range threat shooting 4-of-8 from three-point range. The Thunder now sit fifth in the Western Conference standings with a win up on the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves who are sixth and seventh respectively.
The Oklahoma City Thunder forced the New Orleans Pelicans to turn the ball over 21 times compared to the Thunder’s 18 turnovers with Russell Westbrook having seven of those. The Thunder defense was active managing to get their hands on the ball with the Thunder creating 16 deflections with Westbrook being the most active with six deflections the Thunder also managed to get 13 steals with Paul George and Corey Brewer both having three apiece.
The Thunder did a fantastic job on the boards managing to win the rebounding battle 51-44. It was on the offensive side the Thunder really flexed their muscles pulling down 14 offensive rebounds to the Pelicans seven, it was Steven Adams who lead the way for the Thunder in their dominance on the offensive boards. The Thunder’s offense thrives off the second chances Adams gives them and if they can manage to continue to double the number of second chances they get compared to their opponents the Thunder will be hard to stop come playoff time.
Melo from three is the key
Carmelo Anthony was fantastic against the Pelicans from deep giving the Thunder 50 percent from three-point range when Anthony shoots 50 percent or more from three-point range the Oklahoma City Thunder have won 14 out of 22 games. Anthony needs put himself in a position to be open from behind the arc to many times this season Anthony has been too comfortable to take a step inside the three-point line and shoot the long two instead of sitting behind the line and shoot the deep ball he needs to accept this as his contribution to this team and become a catch and shoot three point weapon for Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Paul George from three
In the last five games, Paul George is shooting a woeful 7-of-33 from three-point range at a staggering 21.2 percent. Since the All-Star break, George is shooting 28.6 percent from three-point range on an average of seven shots per game, the Thunder are 12-19 in that stretch since the break. Before the break, George was scorching hot shooting 44.3 percent on an average of 7.7 shots per game. The Thunder are desperately in need of George’s long-range threat to help open the lane for Westbrook to attack and feed the rest of the team without George’s three-point range the Thunder’s offense looks limited and not as lethal as it opens the door for Westbrook to take ill-advised televised shots late in games.
Lacking the killer blow
The Thunder to often this season have let teams back into the game late after failing to land the knockout blow and it happened again against the Pelicans as the Thunder had the Pelicans on the ropes in the third quarter with the Pelicans begging to be put out of their misery and the Thunder failed to do so shooting 9-of-24 at 37.5 percent in the third quarter as well as 3-of-10 from three-point range. The Thunder had every opportunity to blow the Pelicans out in the third but only managed a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Thunder need to find their killer instinct come the playoffs because this team has allowed teams to comeback late in games and crumbled in the clutch that needs to change with discipline and good decision making from its stars and most importantly its leader Russell Westbrook.