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Thunder Views: Melo and Lance spoon, Oladipo returns, and Huestis plays real minutes

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Paul George’s Indiana reunion was a little disappointing, but his teammates were able to pick him up.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, Paul George got a chance to face off against his former team for the first time since being dealt to OKC. He finished with 10 points (4-8 FG) in 19 minutes, and fouled out with 6:15 left. So yeah, things didn’t really go as planned. As for the rest of the Thunder, it was great night on the floor. They went out and beat up on the Pacers in an end-to-end 18 point victory. OKC fan’s should love what they saw last night, despite George’s rough outing.

Spotlight

The starters are finally beginning to come together for Billy Donovan. As our WTLC recap pointed out, the first unit was +71 last night, which seems pretty good to me. With any new group, it takes some time, but it seems as though it’s happening at an expedited pace in OKC. Sure PG was in foul trouble and didn’t have his best night, but Russ, Melo, and Steven Adams stepped up and never skipped a beat. That’s huge when meshing as a starting five. The entire lineup isn’t going to be on their A-game for all 82 games, so filling in lanes and assuming roles is a must if you want to find success in this league.

Sticking with the theme of stepping up, rotation players outside of the starting five have been a lot of fun to watch as of late. Last night, Josh Huestis and Jerami Grant played 25 minutes apiece, while Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson were both on the floor for over 15 minutes. People like to focus on the starters, but when the rotation can come together and be as effective as it was last night, this team is scary.

Quick Rumbles

  • Last night’s game gave us one of the season’s best photos thus far, featuring Lance Stephenson as the big spoon:
  • Russ had his second triple-double of the season, going for 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 16 assists.
  • Melo and Adams handled the double-doubles. Melo: 28 points, 10 rebounds. Adams: 17 points, 10 rebounds.
  • We saw a lot of 2-man ball by Russ and Adams last night, and it sure was pretty. Those two are phenomenal together in pick and roll scenarios.
  • Patrick Patterson finally scored! His hit a corner three for his first bucket of the year.
  • Early Huestis turned into Often Huestis. We’ve never seen 25 minutes from him, but he was very effective for Donovan.
  • Victor Oladipo played his first game vs. OKC since being traded for Paul George. He continued to lead Indiana in scoring, dumping in 35 points on 11-18 shooting. In a skim Eastern Conference, there’s a chance we could see Oladipo become an all-star.
  • Terrance Ferguson played the final 1:32 against the Pacers - his first action since getting injured in warmups against Minnesota.
  • Russ is trying to find a new free throw routine. The new NBA rules do not allow him to walk to the three point line after each shot, which has him all out of sorts.

A Look Ahead

The Thunder now travel to Minnesota for a rematch with the T-Wolves this Friday. It would be tough to live up to Sunday’s dramatic finish, but these two teams create some really entertaining matchups, so I’m sure Friday will be a ton of fun as well.

The T-Wolves have lost two straight since winning on OKC on Sunday, first to the familiar Indiana Pacers, and then last night to the Detroit Pistons. Both were double digit loses, so they’ll look to return to their home court and get back to their winning ways. They sit at 2-2 on the season.