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Thunder Views: DAKARI, Paul George, and a win

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The Thunder are back on the right track. For now.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it finally happened. The Thunder won a game. Their losing streak came to a halt at four games last night. Some people said they’d never win again. Others said it would take years for them to find the win column. But hey, they did the unthinkable.

Paul George was spectacular last night, leading the way with 42 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists - his best performance so far in a Thunder uniform.

As great as he was, don’t forget about Carmelo Anthony’s effort tonight. He had 14 points on the night, but his real contribution came on the defensive end against Blake Griffin. He held the 6-10 forward to 17 points and 6 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Plus, Anthony was effectively selective on the offensive end, which helped the flow of OKC’s early ball movement. George was the shining star, but Melo surely did his thing as well.

But let’s be real. We know who everyone should be talking about. DAKARI.

Spotlight

Dakari Johnson had logged 8 career minutes prior to his first ever start last night. He jumped in against a seasoned big man, and did not skip a beat. That’s not easy to do. You sit and watch plenty more than you play, but you still have to be ready. You hear people say it all the time. But Johnson really was ready. He was in shape. He proved a lot to Billy Donovan tonight.

In 23 minutes he had 9 points and was +26, which was good enough for second on the team. Plenty of bench players have had their names called to fill in for injured starters, and oftentimes they’re out of shape or unprepared. But if a non-nba fan watched last night’s game, they wouldn’t have known that Dakari Johnson wasn’t a regular.

Congrats to the big man on his first career start, but more importantly, congrats to Dakari for making a statement in his first shot at real minutes.

Quick Rumbles

  • Russell Westbrook had 22 points and 8 assists last night.
  • He was jacked up to start this one as the Thunder had a nice run early on.

It was extremely encouraging to see some signs of life.

  • The Thunder were up 20 in the second half, and the lead quickly was cut down to 8. Consistency is still something they’ll need to focus on moving forward.
  • There were a few instances late in the game where OKC diverted back to their iso-centric play, which has been the death of them in some of their losses over the last few weeks. Thankfully the lightbulb went on tonight, and the ball movement returned.
  • Dakari Johnson blew kisses tonight in his first career start. It was awesome.
  • Here’s the shot of the game from last night:

A Look Ahead

The Thunder look to win back to back games for the first time since defeating the Bulls and Bucks two weeks ago.

Dallas stops by the ‘Peake for a Sunday evening game at 6:00 CT. They come in at 2-10, and face LeBron James and the Cavaliers at home tonight before traveling to Oklahoma City. They’ve been off since Tuesday, so a back to back will be a change of pace for them after defeating the Wizards in DC earlier this week.

Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. will get his first chance to matchup against Russell Westbrook. The athletic point guard has shown plenty of promise over the first few weeks of the season.