The Thunder rebounded from their last second loss to the Chicago Bulls from 10 days ago to make the necessary adjustments and get a much needed win yesterday. OKC, playing without Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, put together a brand new lineup featuring Enes Kanter and Steven Adams on the front line, Andre Roberson sliding to the small forward spot, and Dion Waiters getting the starting SG spot next to Russell Westbrook. Although the first quarter started out rocky, this mix of size and speed provided exceptional balance in the 2nd half, as the Thunder scored 62 points after the break on 53.5% shooting, while holding the Bulls to 53 points on 43.2% shooting.
The win, OKC's 2nd in a row, moves them a full game ahead of the Pelicans in the race for the 8th playoff spot. New Orleans was looking to keep pace last night, but fell in double-OT to the Denver Nuggets, who continue to play well following the firing of head coach Brian Shaw. The loss slides the Pelicans back out of the 8th seed, which they held for about 2 days, but it certainly wasn't due to Anthony Davis' effort, who continues to put up monster games in the same alien-level category as Westbrook.
Sunday saw some further shuffling in the middle of the pack, as the Rockets knocked off the Clippers despite the return of Blake Griffin, which keeps Houston firmly in the #4 spot while pushing the Clippers all the way down to the 6th spot after enduring their 25th loss of the season. The Spurs also won and are beginning to make their own climb, now up to the 5th spot, and only 2 games behind Houston. Could the Spurs actually earn home court advantage in the 1st round? Meanwhile, Dallas is sliding, and with the Thunder set to take them on tonight, OKC could make up an entire game on the Mavericks in their quest to somehow climb out of a 1st round match-up with the Warriors. On the other hand, a loss on the 2nd night of a back to back keeps everything murky with so few games left to play.
Conference standings and stats via NBA.com/stats