Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Washington Wizards on the second night of a back to back, 134-111 the final score.
This game felt like the classic “trap-game” before tip-off. The Washington Wizards were desperate for a win after their terrible start, Dwight Howard was finally joining back the team, and Oklahoma City was on its third game in four nights.
Apparently, it didn’t feel that way for Westbrook & company. After a well battled first quarter, where the Wizards even took a ten points lead, Oklahoma City took control in the second one and dismantled Washington. The Thunder showed their full potential on both ends of the floor outscoring the Wizards 44-20, for a twenty-nine points lead at the half, 79-50.
In the second half, the struggling team led by Wall and Beal was able to cut the lead to a maximum of nineteen points, but that’s the closes the game was. The Thunder controlled without too many issues and finished with an impressive road win.
- Russell Westbrook
In the last few games, Russell Westbrook is playing some of the best basketball of his career. He is not putting up crazy triple-doubles or out of mind scoring nights, but he is doing something better: he plays hard on both ends of the floor. Last night was no exception. Westbrook finished with twenty-three points (10-16 FG), twelve assists, three rebounds, four steals, and only one turnover. In the past four games, all wins, Russell is averaging 26.8 points while shooting 55.1% from the floor, 6.0 rebounds, 9.3 assists, and 3.5 steals per game.
- Jerami Grant
Against the Wizards, Jerami Grant recorded a career-high in points, twenty-two, with outstanding shooting splits 9-11 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-3 FT. Not only points, but Grant also added four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Since Jerami is in the starting lineup the Thunder are 4-1 and Grant’s numbers are pretty impressive: 13.6 points per game (56.8% from the floor and 40% from behind the arc), 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 steals.
Entering last night, the Thunder were one of the worst shooting teams in the league. Part of the frustration wasn’t the shots selection, but simply the fact that the team was missing good/open shots. Last night instead they capitalized. We had a glimpse of the power this team has. Washington’s defense wasn’t the best yesterday, but the Thunder finally took advantage of their ball moving and of the excellent shooting creation. Obviously, Oklahoma City won’t shot 46.9% from behind the arc from here on, but teams will need to adjust sooner rather than later. This will only help the Thunder to be even more dangerous.
- Defensive mindset
When your leader is engaged on the defensive end, then everyone needs to follow and give maximum effort. Against the Wizards the Thunder played (again) excellent defense for most parts of the game. Considering that last night was the third game in four days, I would say that it’s a really encouraging sign going forward. After last night, the Thunder are 5th in defensive rating at 105.0, 1st in steals per game at 11.3, and 11th in blocks per game at 6.0. Another interesting number: the Thunder are 1st per points after they forced a turnover, 23.3 points per game.
- Bench consistency
Last night the Thunder’s bench outscored the Wizards’ one by sixteen points, 48-32 the balance. Billy Donovan seems to have found the most efficient rotations and the team is taking advantage of it. Oklahoma City’s bench is averaging 41.8 points per game in the last four games, and 39.0 so far this season. To give you an example, last year’s bench players averaged a total of 26.4 points per game, 29th in the league.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play on Monday night, at home, against the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off 7.00 pm CT
Photos by Ned Dishman