What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The outcome was never too seriously in doubt, but this was still a fun game to watch. After a blowout and two defensive grinds, this game provided some genuine back and forth scoring action. Russell Westbrook was a blast to watch, as he willed himself to recover from a horrible start and proved his own worth.
What was tonight's turning point?
The Thunder never gave up the lead in this game, but the Hornets made their most serious run in the early fourth. Al-Farouq Aminu hit a tough shot at the end of the third to get them within 7, and then Gustavo Ayon started out the fourth quarter on a tear. Carl Landry continued the roll for New Orleans by getting to the line, eventually tieing the game. Westbrook responded. Ayon responded with a jumper, but Westbrook fired right back. The Hornets then turned to Grievis Vasquez, who couldn't penetrate the Thunder's defense. Harden had another layup, and the Thunder's lead gradually increased from there. There wasn't any "defining moment", but it was still an entertaining sequence to watch.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder lost/won?
Talent. There were times that Kevin Durant would just fly by the Hornets' defense. Serge Ibaka had quite the game in the first half because the Hornets simply couldn't compete with his athleticism down low. The Hornets got some solid scoring from off of the bench, but the guys they needed to produce in the starting lineup, namely Bellinelli and Ariza, came out flat tonight.
What's the key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
21 Turnovers by the Thunder. That's the only real reason the game came into question at all tonight. The Thunder had no trouble scoring....when the ball was in their hands, that is. Westbrook got way too out of control in the third quarter, taking really long threes, getting blocked, and nearly airballing a dunk. He adequately recovered, but his turnovers were a big part of the Hornets' run.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
The win re-affirms the Thunder's renewed offense and gives them a bit of confidence in rebounding. However, it also brings up the age-old problem of turnovers and Westbrook's tendency to get a bit too Wild N' Out. It also keeps them a half a game back of the NBA's best record, and moves them 2.5 games ahead of Denver for the Western Conference and Northwest Division lead.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 25 Points, 7 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 3 Blocks
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, 14 Points, 7 Rebounds, 2 Blocks
Thunder Blunder: Thabo Sefolosha, for going 1-6 from the field.
Thunder Plunderer: Jarrett Jack, for overcoming the defense of Westbrook and making some shots he wasn't supposed to.
Next Game: At the Golden State Warriors, Friday, January 27th, 9:30 PM Central Standard Time