It’s December 19th, and the Thunder’s season hasn’t gone as planned to this point. Regardless of poor performance, OKC finds themselves at 15-15 and somehow just one game out of the 5th spot in the West.
Last night was a bizarre game, where the Thunder’s defense led them to a grind it out win. Well maybe more than just defense...
Despite some major inconsistencies after a great first quarter, OKC was victorious thanks to an MVP caliber performance from Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder offense became increasingly stagnant during the second quarter last night, which quickly allowed Denver to find their way right back into the game. Had it not been for Westbrook, the Thunder would not be sitting at .500 right now.
Westbrook went 16/28 from the field on Monday night, which was his best shooting night since the season opener against the Knicks. His 57.1% clip was also the first time he’s been over 50% since November 10th. Westbrook scored 16 of his season-high 38 in the fourth quarter, propelling the Thunder to a win. He added 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block.
Monday night sported plenty of the issues that have plagued OKC over the first few months of the season. Stagnant/inconsistent offensive play and Paul George struggling to find any sort of rhythm are trends Thunder fans know all too well.
Instead of losing their way, OKC stuck to their defensive strengths and stayed within striking distance when Denver was controlling the tempo during the second half. The fact that they were able to do this without Steven Adams is a win in itself.
So with no Adams, plus a virtually nonexistent George and Melo, the Russ-led Thunder managed to find a win. Regardless of how it was done, a win’s a win.
- Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for 12 points on 5/19 shooting. George never found any rhythm, while Melo only took 6 shots in 31 minutes. He didn’t seemed phased however:
Carmelo Anthony on taking on six shot attempts: “I’m good with that if we win.” Said Russell Westbrook had it going, Thunder was following his lead. pic.twitter.com/OlQqpdcoIl— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) December 19, 2017
- The third quarter theme continued on Monday, as OKC was outscored 32-18. This came after leading by that exact score following the first frame.
- Westbrook hit the game winning free throw with 1.7 seconds left. His defensive effort last night should not be overlooked as well, including .
- Dakari Johnson finished with 8 points on 4/4 shooting. He got his second straight start with the absence of Steven Adams.
- The Thunder had just 13 assists last night.
- This is very relevant:
Through November, Thunder was 1-9 in clutch games with a -42.2 net rating and 138.7 defensive rating.— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) December 19, 2017
Since Dec. 1 ...
7-1 in clutch, No. 1 in NBA. Offense still dookie (97.0 offensive rating), Defense outstanding (78.2 defensive rating).
What a strange team.
- No more notes. Tonight was a vintage Russ takeover. Plain and simple.
A Look Ahead
The Thunder welcome a familiar foe in the Jazz to town on Wednesday night. They’ll try to jump above the .500 mark once again.
Steven Adams remains in the NBA’s concussion protocol. I’m sure updates on his status will come today and tomorrow.