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Thunder Views: Surviving a third quarter, embracing Abrines, and the dominant Kiwi

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Paul George’s return to Indiana ended in a win, but per usual, it was Steven Adams coming to the rescue

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I think it finally happened on Wednesday night. Maybe I’m just overexcited. Maybe this is premature. I think the NBA world has finally begun to realize how great Steven Adams is. His 23 points and 13 rebounds helped Paul George triumph over his former team, in what was a total effort from the Thunder. Russ, Melo, and PG were 10-45 FG, combining for 34 points... and OKC won. That has to be some sort of progress in the overall scheme, right? Maybe? (Ignore the 10-45 part)

This seemed like a team building kind of win, so we’re going to be all (mostly) positive here on Thunder Views. Keep the past in the rear view, because this team is coming together!

It looked like the Thunder were having fun last night. For the first time in a while, they actually looked loose, and there is extreme value in that.

Spotlight

Naturally, I want to focus on the play of Steven Adams here. As you all know, I’ve been tracking his path to world domination since the beginning of this season, and it’s finally coming to fruition. Last night’s game was on ESPN, so the rest of the NBA landscape was able to get a peek at what we’ve all been witnessing over the last few months.

He’s so important to this team’s success, and this gets amplified on nights where Russ, Melo, and PG are struggling from the floor. Wednesday was a prime example of his influence, where he stepped up in all facets to help the Thunder find an ugly win.

Last night was Adams’ ninth double double of the season, and his fourth 20 point game out of seven this month. I’m trying not to gush here, but it’s difficult. Before this turns into a love letter to the Big Kiwi, I’m going to stop and put his highlights below. This team has been tough to watch at times this season, but Adams has made it all worth while.

And of course, he put the cherry on top by forcing an Indiana turnover with 12 seconds left:

Quick Rumbles

  • Alex Abrines was 4-6 from three and finished with 14 points in 32 minutes. The Spaniard was another important piece in making up for the big three’s inefficiencies.
  • Patrick Patterson had arguably his best game in a Thunder uniform with 8 points in 13 minutes on 2-3 shooting.
  • THE THUNDER LED AFTER THE THIRD QUARTER on Wednesday. Indiana sped out of the break on an 11-2 run and things looked bleak. OKC avoided another meltdown and stayed within themselves to enter the fourth quarter with the lead.
  • Westbrook recorded his ninth triple double of the season with 10 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists. He was just 3-17 FG, but made some key hustle plays down the stretch.
  • Obviously having Russ, Melo, and PG go 10-45 cannot become a trend, but it was reassuring to see the bench step up on the road.
  • George was relentlessly booed from warmups until the final whistle, while never getting into a smooth flow. However his final two free throws and shushing of the crowd closed out the win for OKC.
  • For those wondering, Victor Oladipo had 19 points on 9/26 shooting.
  • This interview touches on the importance of OKC playing loose and relaxed, which I think is vitally important to this team’s success.

A Look Ahead

OKC looks to get back to .500 as they head to Philly on Friday night. This will be the first of two remaining games on their road trip before heading home for three straight. Coming out of this trip with a 3-0 record would be great heading back to the ‘Peake.

In terms of injuries, keep an eye out for Andre Roberson, as he did not play again tonight. A clear timeline hasn’t been mapped out, so his status remains unknown for tomorrow, but with Ben Simmons on the horizon, OKC could definitely use a healthy Robes.

Steven Adams vs Joel Embiid should be a fun matchup on Friday.

Maybe this is irrational confidence, and it’s tough to accept this coming off an inefficient shooting night like Wednesday, but I really think this team is heading in the right direction. Focusing on the negatives can get really dark, really quickly. Look at the positives that are occurring, and remember, it’s still only December.