Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder got back at the Spurs for that L they took on February 11th by destroying San Antonio 131-103. Lu Dort, Steven Adams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had themselves some very impressive individual games that translated to a solid team win. This was a game that saw CP3 sit back be the floor general that he is, dishing out 10 dimes to go along with 12 points and 9 rebounds. This game was a beautiful outing for the organization and it should be a game that made the league take a second look at this team. There’s something different about the Thunder after the break and it’s gonna be scary for the rest of the league. But people said they should tank….wow. Let’s get to the facts:
- Luguentz Dort is what the Thunder need. Like right now.
In twenty-four minutes, Dort had himself a game, tallying 15 points, 2 boards, 2 assists & 3 blocks. Shooting a perfect 6/6, including 2/2 from deep, this man is making a case as to why OKC should throw him an NBA contract. As OKC looks to solidify playoff seeding, Lu Dort can help fill a scoring void that is normally left by Terrance Ferguson; who has been in somewhat of a slump – or just isn’t playing at 100% – since the January 17th loss to the Heat. The Arizona State product is deserving of a full NBA deal and last night was further proof.
- You. Gotta. Feed. The. Big. Men.
Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel…my goodness. Noel was a perfect 5/5, scoring 10 points, 1 board, 5 blocks and a steal in 16 minutes. As far as X-Factors go, Noel can be a huge one for OKC in order to make a strong push in the final playoff rankings. And listen, Steven Adams…sir! Twenty-one points, 14 rebounds and a steal on 66% shooting and 83% from the charity stripe. Earlier this season I said give this man 12-15 shots and he’ll be a 15 & 15 player. There’s a reason that GM’s have voted Adams as the toughest player in the league three seasons in a row. This is why.
- This game was won in the third quarter.
Get this, San Antonio only scored 18 third quarter points. Did you catch that? A Greg Popovich coached team scored 18 points in the 3rd quarter. Oklahoma City outscored the Spurs in three of four quarters but the most impactful was the third period that saw OKC with strong defense and even better scoring. In what was a historic night for OKC, eight players posted double digit scoring numbers. An eruption that saw every player on the roster see the floor last night.
- Stats no longer matter to this team.
I’m going to make a bold statement and I need every single Thunder fan to hear me out. For the first time since the 2016-2017 season, the Oklahoma City Thunder no longer have to depend or worry about triple-doubles (check Chris Paul’s stat line if you don’t believe me). It seemed like there was a constant thought of, “get Russ this triple double and let’s see if we can win once that happens.” That was an enormous feat over three seasons by Russ no doubt, but that was all the Thunder relied on instead of the role players around them. And that’s what hurt them most, especially in the postseason. This season, the identity of the Thunder resembles that of a junkyard dog. This team is hungry, scrappy and complete. They have no fear, they finally have a sense of identity and they want problems with anybody in the playoffs. The Thunder no longer care about triple-doubles and other stats. They only worry about W’s and having fun while racking them up. And that is a beautiful thing.
- Spots 3-6 are closer than we think.
In the current playoff race, spots 3-6 are separated by less than three games. Oklahoma City is currently 2.5 games away from the three seed and on pace for 50 wins. Something that I doubt anybody outside of the organization saw coming to begin this season. Oklahoma City can slip into 5th place and could look to steal 3rd or 4th place based upon the play of the Clippers and Rockets over the next 26 games. Oklahoma City won the season series over the Rockets and is 1-1 against the Clippers with two more matchups to go. The Western Conference is tighter than we all thought it would be this season and Thunder fans are loving it more than anyone.
Tomorrow the Thunder take on the Bulls in a matchup that should be fun. It’ll be interesting to see how Billy Donovan preps this team for Zach LaVine who has been a man on a mission lately (scoring 32 last night on 55% shooting while becoming the Bulls’ all time leader for three pointers in a season) and Coby White who is coming off back to back 33 point outings. Chicago might be sitting at 20-38 but do not let that distract you from the fact that the Bulls have a team a few hungry dogs who can score at will.