On OKC's sterling night, Westbrook (24 pts, 16 ast, 10 rebs) added triple-double #34 to his renowned collection. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City (39-29) has won four-consecutive contests, with its previous two coming away from Chesapeake Energy Arena.
In a burgeoning trend, Russell the distributor’s supporting cast benefited from unparalleled team synergy. All five Thunder starters reached double-figure scoring as Victor Oladipo (23) and Enes Kanter (14) capitalized upon the streaking squad’s 33 total assists.
Again, Westbrook strategically involved his running mates early while applying his scoring tact as needed.
For all intents and purposes, Oklahoma City’s 39-22 third-quarter eruption rendered the evening’s competition moot. Aside from Oladipo’s six minutes, the Thunder reserves fostered an insurmountable lead throughout the final frame.
Meanwhile, Dwane Casey’s crew has dropped three of four after a flat performance before a deflated Air Canada Centre.
DeMar DeRozan (22) led five Raptors to score in twin-figures. However, Andre Roberson’s adhesive defensive presence held DeRozan five points below his seasonal average.
In fact, OKC’s energetic two-way execution limited Toronto to 45/25/76 shooting. Further, behind Westbrook’s visionary leads, Oklahoma City outscored the Raptors 14-4 in transition.
With the win, Oklahoma City is now ten games above .500 and ended its season series 1-1 opposite Toronto (39-29).
Following a timely 2-0 road trip, the Thunder returns home to face fading Sacramento this Saturday.
- Russell Westbrook’s Floor Game: Westbrook established a successful rhythm early by involving his capable starting unit. The MVP candidate amassed five first-frame assists before putting Toronto in a ten-point halftime hole after a 10-point, six-assist second quarter. Westbrook’s basketball IQ is ever expanding.
- Victor Oladipo: The talented first-year Thunder is saving his best for last. “Dipo” continued his hot shooting by netting 3-3 three-point attempts while finishing with 23 points.
- Ball Movement: In a carry over from the Brooklyn game, OKC’s good ball-sharing habits continued as Billy Donovan’s men finished with 33 assists on 47 made baskets.
- Energy: Oklahoma City displayed strong intangibles, and sustained energy, throughout its win over a quality iteration.
- Three-Point Shooting: Led by a potent starting backcourt, seven Thunder netted a made three pointer. Westbrook (4-8) and Oladipo (3-3) spearheaded the charge.
I’m likely nitpicking; however, 22 fouls and 18 turnovers are generally unacceptable.
Until Oklahoma City’s torrid third-quarter run, Toronto was able to remain within striking distance by a voluminous amount of free-throw attempts (30).
Also, Oklahoma City’s 15-of-19 free throw clip could’ve been slightly better.
Thunder Lines of Wonder
- Russell Westbrook: 24 pts, 16 ast, 10 rebs, 8-17 FG, 4-8 3PM, 4-4 FTM
- Victor Oladipo: 23 pts, 5 rebs, 9-15 FGM, 3-3 3PM
- Andre Roberson: Excellent defense, 13 pts, 4 rebs, 3 ast, 2 stl, 6-8 FG, 1-2 3PM
- Enes Kanter: 14 pts, 7 rebs, 4-5 FTM: Kanter proffered another excellent showing while helping OKC fight off the Raptors early.
Tonight, Oklahoma City showcased a dynamic attack while rectifying recent road woes. In still another encouraging sign, the Thunder has defeated virtually every top team this season (other than “that” team) to cement itself as a darkhorse playoff opponent.
Further, Russ’ decision to involve his teammates early and score as needed has payed off in spades. Ergo, each Thunder seems to have found a comfortable role, with Taj Gibson becoming an ultimate glue guy —OKC is 4-0 as Taj starts. Also, OKC is 28-6 when Russ triple doubles.
Finally, with 14 games remaining, Oklahoma City’s culminating year-long journey seems to have better days yet ahead.