Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder earned their 44th win of the year by defeating the Indiana Pacers, 107-99 the final score.
After probably the worst performance of the year against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder bounced back in what seemed to many people a must-win situation.
Oklahoma City played a good defensive first half. Obviously, the team committed mistakes here and there, but nothing dramatic. The problems in the first part of the game came on the offensive side of the court. The Thunder generated great shots, a lot of good looks, but they failed to convert these shots into points. Oklahoma City finished the first half shooting 39% from the floor and 23% from behind the arc while scoring only sixteen points in the second quarter.
Unlike Monday night in Memphis, yesterday the Thunder came out to play in the third quarter. Oklahoma City stormed over the Pacers and took over the game thanks to a 24-0 run which turned a nine points deficit at the half into a fourteen points lead. From there on the Thunder controlled the game without too many issues. Indiana tried to make a couple of runs, but OKC answered back each time.
- Steven Adams, a monster
Steven Adams has been heavily criticized this past month. Sometimes rightfully so, sometimes not. Yesterday, Adams showed, that when the team keeps feeding him, that he can be a force, not only on defense but also on offense. The big Kiwi finished the game with twenty-five points (11-14 FG, 3-6 FT), twelve rebounds (seven on offense), three assists, two steals, and one block.
- Russell Westbrook, floor general
This is the Russell Westbrook which Oklahoma City needs to be successful. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t really like when he passes up semi-open layups to force a pass to a teammate, but yesterday Westbrook was in control of everything on offense. He controlled the tempo, found his teammates in their preferred spots, and most importantly I think, Russell kept Adams involved. Westbrook finished with seventeen points (6-15 FG, 2-4 3PT, 3-4 FT), eleven rebounds, twelve assists, two steals, one block, and only one turnover. Russell Westbrook is now four rebounds and forty-four assists away from averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive season.
- Jerami Grant, excellent
Once Again Jerami Grant provided an excellent performance. Grant didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from inside the three points line (2-8), but he stayed aggressive and made the most damages from behind the arc (5-8). Not only Jerami helped the team on offense, but he played a solid defensive game as well (three blocks and one steal). As Paul George said after the game, Jerami Grant is the X-Factor for this team.
- Third quarter, masterclass
One of the best quarters played by the Thunder this whole season. Oklahoma City played outstanding, close to perfection, on defense and on offense. Defensively the team didn’t allow any easy shot, everyone was engaged, and the weak side helps were on time. On the other end of the floor, Russell Westbrook did an amazing job in creating shots for his teammates, and this time around they delivered. This third quarter showed us the potential this team has. Hopefully, for Thunder fans, they will keep this energy up for the games to come.
- Bench, inconsistent again
Last night, the bench combined for a total of ten points. Dennis Schröder finished with only three points and zero field goals made (0-7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 3-4 FT), Nader added three points, Noel four, while a passive Markieff Morris finished with zero. Billy Donovan did a good job in managing their minutes, he used them only to rest the starter. However, when playoffs time come, the Thunder will need at least two players to step up in order to be competitive.
On Friday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder will continue their homestand, this time against the Denver Nuggets. Tip-off 7 pm CT.
Photos by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder