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Thunder Views: Adams Injured, Melo and PG Make Debuts

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The Thunder’s intriguing 2017-2018 campaign kicked off Tuesday night with a loss to the Houston Rockets.

NBA: Preseason-Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Hey Thunder fans, I’m Chris Grenham, WTLC’s newest writer. In the past, I’ve covered a variety of NBA and college basketball teams, but over the next few months, I’ll be bringing you “Thunder Views” after each and every OKC game. The series will provide an analytical look at the previous night’s game, some quick hits that are of interest, and a look at what’s ahead for the Thunder. We’re going to have some fun with this series, so make sure to keep an eye out for Thunder Views the next day following every game.

OKC fans were finally able to witness Paul George and hoodie-less Carmelo Anthony in an exhibition setting last night, as the Rockets visited the BOK Center in Tulsa and took down the Thunder. Houston’s intensity was visibly high for a preseason affair, Steven Adams left the game with a lower back / “glute-ish” injury, and Melo and George led the scoring charge for the Thunder. But more importantly, basketball is back!

Spotlight

From an OKC perspective, all of the focus on Tuesday night was surrounding Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Initially things were a little out of sorts on the offensive side of the ball, which was to be expected. No one assumed this group would jump right in and have everything operate smoothly, but it’s clear that these guys are still getting used to playing with one another. The absence of Russell Westbrook and Patrick Patterson only emphasized this theme in our first real impression of the season.

Let’s focus on tonight’s main attractions: Melo and PG.

This wasn’t a great look at how they’ll be operating this year, as it’s difficult to take away a whole lot from a game without Russell Westbrook. Regardless of that asterisk, Anthony showed off his scoring prowess early and often, scoring the team’s first 10 points, and finishing with 19 in 19 minutes. His versatility on the offensive side of the ball should make Billy Donovan feel very comfortable with playing him at power forward.

Fellow newcomer Paul George had 15 points in 26 minutes, but also managed to grab 4 fouls in his first 17 minutes on the floor. His ability to score in transition was evident, however his efforts on the defensive end against James Harden are what really stood out in his debut. George did start off slowly, but he eventually settled into his first game in a non Indiana Pacers jersey.

Quick Rumbles

  • Steven Adams left last night’s game with what appeared to be a lower back injury. The team will be receiving more info on the center’s status today, however it didn’t seem to be anything serious after last night’s loss. Adams said it was a “more glute-ish” injury but did not sound too concerned.
  • Donovan was clearly making an effort to get the young guns some key minutes last night, as Daniel Hamilton and Terrance Ferguson were among the game’s early substitutions. Hamilton started the second quarter at point guard, replacing Raymond Felton, and looked relatively comfortable. Body and ball control will be a focus for him this season, as he’ll be spending a majority of the year in the G-League. Ferguson looked very confident for a rookie in his 19 minutes of action, while being one of the more active and effective defensive players on the floor. The 19-year-old’s development should be something all Thunder fans keep an eye on for the remainder of the preseason. I have a feeling he’ll be improving ahead of schedule.
  • Jerami Grant was more composed driving with the ball than he was last season. Similar to Hamilton’s current issue, Grant’s drives were often out of control in the past. He seems to be moving in the right direction after last night’s calm and controlled takes to the basket.
  • Houston received a technical foul for having 6 players on the court. Preseason basketball is fun.
  • Chris Paul looked like he was in midseason form in his Rockets debut. He was sharp on the offensive side of the ball and his pick and roll defense in the first quarter was superb.

A Look Ahead

Looking forward, Thunder fans will be keeping an ear out for any news on the Steven Adams injury. Again, it thankfully doesn’t seem to be anything too serious (knock on wood). Even if this is the case, don’t be surprised if Adams gets little to no minutes on Friday night.

Daniel Hamilton, Isaiah Canaan, and Terrance Ferguson splitting minutes in guard roles last night made Semaj Christon the odd man out. It will be interesting to see if Donovan gives him similar minutes on Friday, or if he keeps him limited on the bench. I would guess we’ll be seeing Christon get some minutes this time around.

The Thunder return to Chesapeake Energy Arena this Friday night for their second tune-up game of the year as they welcome in the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans lost their first preseason contest last night, falling to Chicago 109-113.