Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder destroyed the Detroit Pistons, in Detroit, to earn their fifteenth win of the season, 110-83 the final score.
The Detroit Pistons came into yesterday’s game as one of the hottest team in the league, which was also on a five-game winning streak. It didn’t matter. The Thunder played a perfect defensive game for forty-eight minutes, and while in the first half the offense wasn’t perfect, they adjusted it in the second half.
At halftime the Thunder lead by ten points, 50-40. But the showtime came right after the long break when Oklahoma City outscored Detroit 37-19. Basketball played at its perfection on both ends of the floor. The started didn’t need to play any minute in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder remain third in a packed Western Conference with a record of fifteen wins and seven losses.
- Look down Defense
The Thunder are the best defensive team in the league right now, by a solid margin. Here are some numbers: Oklahoma City is first in defensive rating at 100.5, almost three points better than the second place Boston Celtics (103.1). Also, the Thunder lead the league in steals per game at 10.3, they are third in deflections per game at 15.4, and second in total loose ball recovered at 10.7.
The system that Billy Donovan created, and in which everyone is buying in right now, it’s borderline perfect. One more thing to remember: the Thunder are missing their best defender, Andre Roberson.
- Third quarter perfection
Last night, the third quarter put an exclamation point on the game. The Thunder suffocated the Pistons offense, contested every shot, and made them struggle to score each point. On the other end of the floor, Oklahoma City didn’t’ turn the ball over and generated really good offense. Last season, the Thunder were ranked 23rd in plus/minus in 3rd quarters at minus 1.1, this season they are first at plus 4.4. However what’s more impressive is the net rating: during third quarters the Thunder have an offensive rating of 116.0 and a defensive rating of 98.2, that’s a 17.8 net rating. Insane number, and obviously first in the league.
- Bench stepping up again
Once again, the second unit stepped in and did a really solid job. The best two players from the bench against Detroit have been Dennis Schröder (without a doubt a top candidate for 6th man of the year) and Nerlens Noel. The German playmaker finished the game with twelve points, nine rebounds, six assists, and one steal. Noel scored the same amount of points and added eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. The backup playmaker and backup center have been two weak spots for the Thunder in the past years, finally, the problem seems to be solved.
- Steven Adams, big
Steven Adams is having the best season of his career, and last night he provided another excellent performance on both ends of the floor. On offense, he was almost perfect: twenty-one points, 7-8 from the floor, 7-7 from the free throw line. Really impressive. However, he was probably better on the defensive end. He held Andre Drummond to thirteen points (6-14 FG) and allowed him to grab only six rebounds, zero on offense. Not bad considering that Drummond is leading the league in offensive rebounding.
- Welcome back Terrence Ferguson
Ferguson is finally back from his ankle injury and it was good to see him on the court. His offensive game against the Pistons has been pretty quiet (two points from the free throw line, only one field goal attempted), but he contributed in other ways: first, he finished with four assists, second, his defense has been solid. He improved a lot on this aspect, he fights over screens, and his feet are fast. Great comeback, and hopefully he continues to improve.
The Thunder will play on Wednesday night in Brooklyn against the Nets. Tip-off 6 pm CT
Photos by Brian Selvald