Last night the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Dallas Mavericks 122-102.
It’s everything easier when Russell Westbrook can hit his jump-shots consistently. Yesterday was another example that when he can shoot the ball well, then this team goes on another level. With other players struggling on offense, Westbrook made sure, bank shot after bank shot, that the Thunder would get an important win to close the 2018.
There was not much that the Mavericks could do on offense thanks to an outstanding defensive performance for OKC. Barnes tried, he was hot from behind the three points line in the second half, but once again the Thunder adjusted, and the Mavs never had a real chance to put the Thunder in any real danger.
Oklahoma City stays third in the Western Conference, with a 23-13 record
- Russell Westbrook
After what was probably his worst shooting night ever, Westbrook bounced back and redeemed himself with a great offensive performance. The Thunder star finished the game with thirty-two points (13-24 FG, 0-1 3PT, 6-6 FT), eleven assists, eleven rebounds, four steals, and five turnovers. Wesbrook was in total control on offense, Dallas gave him the space to shoot and this time he took advantage of it. Westbrook was also good on defense, not only because of his four steals, but because he was engaged on that end of the floor.
Oklahoma City played another outstanding game defensively. The players were all over the place and forced the Mavs to turn the ball over twenty-nine times. Oklahoma City scored thirty-six points out of these turnovers. Even when the play didn’t end in a turnovers, the Thunder were able to force Dallas into tough shots. Also, this was the second night of the back to back (same for the Mavericks), so to see all that energy on the defensive end was fantastic.
- Jerami Grant
What a surprise Grant has been this season. Last night, once again, he showed his improvements on both ends of the floor. His offense is more complete and more under control: he still dunks, but he added a fade away jump shot and the three point shooting is more reliable. Against the Mavs, Grant finished with sixteen points, four rebounds, three steals, and one block. The block on Deandre Jordan was probably the most impressive play of the night.
- Nerlens Noel
The back up big guy played another solid game. This time he was more effective on offense than what the numbers might show on defense. Noel finished with fifteen points (5-7 FG, 5-6 FT), five rebounds, and one block. The Thunder should be happy to have him on the team. Oklahoma City doesn’t have a problem anymore at the backup center position and this will help the team in the long run. Also, I am very happy for Noel, he deserve to be successful after a rocky start of his NBA career.
The Thunder finished the month of December with a 9-6 record, which is pretty good. They had good wins against Utah twice, Sacramento, Clippers, and Dallas. The only “bad” loss came against the Nuggets (by eleven points), while all the other losses came down to the wire. If Oklahoma City has a bit more of luck and focus in these situations in January, then they can maintain their top three position in the Western Conference.
Best Thunder player in the month of December? Paul George without a doubt, his stats for the month: 30.8 points (49.3% FG, 43.2% 3PT, 84.6% FT), 8.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.5 turnovers.
The Thunder will play in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Wednesday night. Tip-off 9.30 pm CT
Photos by Zach Beeker