Thunder beat crippled Pelicans: Five Thoughts

Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 122-116.

Despite what the final score might show, the Thunder dominated the game for a big stretch, reaching also a twenty-two points lead with one minute left to play in the third quarter.

When it felt like the game was basically over, due to a combination of sloppy defense and Holiday going crazy, the Thunder made this game more interesting than what it was supposed to be. The Pelicans cut the lead little by little, and they were able to make it a two possessions game. Oklahoma City’s cushion and some little effort at the end of the fourth quarter helped the Thunder to close the game.

This was a must win considering that the Pelicans were without four important players: Davis, Mirotic, Randle, and Moore.

Five Thoughts:

Offense, smooth:

Since the beginning of January, the Thunder are playing some amazing offensive basketball. Not only the efficiency from all the area of the floor is improving, but also players who struggled to start the season, are hitting (and taking) more shots. The main example is indeed Terrence Ferguson who’s becoming an outstanding 3&D player. If the Thunder will be able to sustain this type of offense, and with a defense being able to switch on in any moment of the game, then Oklahoma City might become e serious problem when playoffs come.

Paul George, All-Star:

Paul George will start in the upcoming All-Star game, and he fully deserves it. George is playing the best basketball of his career while averaging high career numbers in most of the stats categories. This is an amazing reward, not only for the player but also for a franchise that is considered a “small market”.

Westbrook, in the groove:

Russell Westbrook played another amazing game. Against New Orleans, he finished with twenty-three points (9-19 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4-8 FT), sixteen assists, seventeen rebounds, two steals, and four turnovers. He completed his fifteenth triple-double in only twenty minutes while dictating the tempo of the game. I thought that until the last quarter his decision making on offense was spectacular. When Westbrook plays the way he did until the end of the third quarter, the Thunder will be very hard to beat.

Adams, power:

The strongest man in the league. Adams did everything he wanted in the post: dunks, layups, and passes. The big Kiwi finished the game with twenty points (9-12 FG, 2-2 FT), thirteen rebounds (seven on offense), two assists, one steal, and four turnovers (that euro-step-travel was hilarious though). As usual, the only concern that comes with Adams is the lack of shots he gets in the second half. Last night, he took a total of two shots in the second half

Focus, ups & downs:

It happened already many times through this season that this team will just lose its focus, and play some sloppy basketball on both ends of the floor. Last night, it did in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City played with high-intensity in the middle of the game (second and third quarter), and you could see the difference compared to the fourth quarter. When the Thunder play without being focused it always translated into a disaster. Yesterday, due to the many absences, the Pelicans weren’tW able to complete the comeback, but in other situations, it could have ended differently.

Up Next:

The Oklahoma City Thunder will play again on Sunday night, at home, against the leaders in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks. Tip-off 5 pm CT.

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