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Thunder Views: Carmelo’s adjustment, Adams’ dominance, and a crisis averted

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OKC narrowly avoided disaster yesterday, while Steven Adams continued his reign over the basketball world.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs were short-handed in Oklahoma City yesterday. Actually, the word ‘shorthanded’ doesn’t really cover it. They were without LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, not to mention that they lost Kyle Anderson to injury (MCL sprain), Pau Gasol and Danny Green played only 16 and 18 minutes, respectively, and backup PG Patty Mills, who was burning OKC early, played 9 minutes. So, naturally, the Thunder only won by three while managing to cause yet another spike in the cumulative blood pressure of OKC fans everywhere.

If the Spurs had managed to finished their comeback with a win, we would be talking about another blown double digit lead, another crunch time loss, and another game thrown away to an inferior opponent. BUT, that’s not the case, so let’s discuss the win.

In all seriousness, the Thunder played a solid fundamental game tonight. Their ball movement was crisp and they were able to consistently get plenty of open looks. Many of them just didn’t fall. That’s basketball. Bottom line, don’t judge Sunday’s game completely by the close final score.

Spotlight

Russell Westbrook had his league-leading seventh triple double of the season last night, finishing with 22-10-10, but let’s focus on Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony.

Adams continued his phenomenal play with 19 points and 10 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. He was strong around the rim, looked extremely confident on the offensive side of the ball, and was a major reason why the Thunder took 50 shots in the paint. Over the last two games, the OKC big man is shooting 19/24 from the field. Talk all you want about the Thunder’s struggles so far this season, but Steven Adams has been terrific when he’s been given a chance to shine.

Carmelo was quiet on Sunday, but don’t ignore his recent box scores. Anthony is a guy who up until this season has been his team’s go-to scorer. He’s always had the green light from the second he steps onto the hardwood. Obviously this isn’t the case for him in OKC.

Last night he scored 9 points on 4-10 shooting. For the most part, his shot selection was smart and timely. He’s taken just 17 shots in the last two games for a combined 18 points. This kind of sacrifice and change isn’t easy for many NBA stars, but Melo seems to be embracing the role. Definitely a good sign for Billy Donovan and the Thunder.

Here he is post game discussing the current situation:

Quick Rumbles

  • Paul George had a tough go on Sunday, as he was 2-17 from the floor for 8 points. He got into foul trouble early, which clearly disrupted his flow.
  • Alex Abrines played last night for the first time since November 25th in Dallas. He had 5 points in 15 minutes.
  • Josh Huestis was involved in an alley oop:
  • OKC was 10-21 from the charity stripe on Sunday. Yikes.
  • Andre Roberson was confident and decisive with the ball yesterday. He was 4-4 FG for 8 points in 34 minutes.
  • According to multiple reports as of Monday morning, Danny Green is still trying to find Paul George:
  • And lastly, speaking of discombobulation, PG’s move on Green had nothing on what happened to former Thunder Joffrey Lauvergne, who earns official ‘tough guy’ status for not only dislocating his finger, but openly laughing about it while Coach Pop and others cringed:

A Look Ahead

OKC welcomes the Utah Jazz to town on Tuesday night.

The Jazz have been awaiting the return of star center Rudy Gobert, who appears to be ahead of schedule. There’s a chance he plays on Monday night, as Utah faces off against Washington. It seems likely that he’ll suit up in OKC on Tuesday night.