Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder won their tenth game of the season on the road by defeating the Phoenix Suns, 118-102 the final score.
The Thunder entered the game against the Suns without Paul George and Alex Abrines. In addition to these two absences, Oklahoma City lost also Ferguson after the first quarter due to sickness. The game has been balanced until the end of the third quarter. The Thunder controlled the first quarter before giving up the two middle ones and found themselves trailing by three points entering the last twelve minutes. However, lead by the duo Westbrook – Schröder on offense, and by an outstanding defense, the Thunder were able to run away and win an important game on the road.
- Russell Westbrook, unstoppable
What a dominant performance for Russell Westbrook. He isn’t having his best season in scoring or shooting, but last night he played at an MVP level again. Westbrook finished the game with forty points (17-29 FG, 3-7 3PT, 3-6 FT), twelve rebounds, eight assists, and six turnovers. He played under control the whole time, took mostly smart shots, and his defense was good. With the absence of Paul George, the Thunder needed a great performance from Westbrook, and he delivered it.
- The surprise Nader
Abdul Nader didn’t play much before the game against the Rockets on Christmas day. Also, against Houston, his performance wasn’t one to remember. But due to the missing players, and the late sickness of Ferguson, he was able to show what he is capable of in thirty-three minutes of playing time. Nadar finished with a career-high eighteen points (7-13 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT), grabbed five rebounds and a not too bad defensive performance. It’s just one game, but Nader showed indeed some good qualities last night in Phoenix.
- Fourth quarter Schröder
Dennis Schröder didn’t have a great game until the fourth quarter. In fact, in the first three periods, Dennis shot the ball 3-12 from the floor while not playing much in control. However, in the last twelve minutes, he caught fire and scored fourteen points. This helped Oklahoma City to create some distance from the Suns.
- Noel’s impact
Nerlens finished the game scoreless last night, but his impact came on the defensive end of the floor. Noel finished the game with three rebounds, two assists, four steals, and one block. All of it in only thirteen minutes of playing time. Nerlens changed the course of the game with his defense to start the fourth quarter. Thanks to Noel, the Thunder were able to collect a few stops and to capitalize on offense in a dominant last period.
- Defense wins again
After last night the Thunder are ranked second in defensive rating at 102.1, only a 0.1 behind the first team, the Indiana Pacers. Against the Suns, the Thunder had some troubles in the first half to stop the pick and roll between Booker and Ayton but adjusted well in the second half. As mentioned above, Oklahoma City took control defensively by the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. The Thunder kept the pressure high to end the game and allowed the Suns to score only eighteen points in the last period.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play on Sunday night in Dallas against the Mavericks. Tip-off 6 pm CT.