The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New Orleans Pelicans at home, 101-92. The Thunder, powered once again by a Russell Westbrook triple (quadruple)-double of 28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists, and 10 turnovers, overcame the loss of Steven Adams early on as well as some all-around sloppy 2nd half play to win their 5th game in a row to move to 13-8 on the season.
The Pelicans were led by Anthony Davis, a man among boys, and who looks like he is approaching a level of resignation that he’s the 3rd best player on the planet and he may never see the playoffs again in New Orleans. He finished with a pedestrian 37-15-4-2-2.
Let’s keep this one short, shall we? Yes, we shall.
The Thunder won this game because the Pelicans, as it stands now, are not very good and can offer little support for Davis’ otherworldly talents. Despite OKC going 0-15 from 3-point range in the 1st half (6-28 for the game) and looking like they were ready for this thing to be over most of the 4th quarter, they never trailed and were never seriously threatened. Even as the Pelicans cut the deficit to 4 points with a minute remaining, their fate still seemed sealed. Even then however, I kept repeating the thought in my mind - “Don’t put yourselves in a position where one man can beat you.” Because AD? He can beat you if you let him. Mercifully, Westbrook hit a 3-point dagger with 51 seconds to go and all but ended our misery.
Here’s the interesting thing. OKC’s game plan was systematic and deliberate, and designed to get a win over an inferior opponent. Their defense was mostly disciplined and took away everything not involving Davis, and had they hit even 1⁄3 of their threes in the first half, they would have led by 20. In Adams’ absence, Enes Kanter did a great job stepping up with 17-10 in 30 minutes, playing decent defense in the interior. Andre Roberson continued his assault on the offensive record books with a 13-5 on 6-8 shooting, and Semaj Christon did a decent job running the 2nd unit by tallying 5 assists in 11 minutes. However, with all those misses early on, they started to get antsy in wanting to put this team away, trying to do so by sheer force of will, and it nearly backfired. So we’ll just stick this one in the win column and move on.
One positive takeaway - OKC is becoming a team that can win a game even though they look awful for huge chunks of the night. Those numbers - 21.4% from three, 50% from the free throw line, Russ’ 10 TO’s...yeah. And still, nearly a double digit win. Sorry, Pelicans fans.