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Thunder Views: Melo & Kiwi, 3rd Quarter Defense, and Dre’s Return

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Vintage Melo is so much fun.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It was the Melo & Kiwi show in OKC on Wednesday night, as the two showed out for the first of ESPN’s midweek contests. Anthony finished with 27 points on 10/15 shooting while Adams had 21 points and 10 rebounds via a 10/12 night. Both very impressive showings.

Melo is clearly embracing his catch-and-shoot role. Russell Westbrook’s drives and attention drawing play creates so many open looks, many of which Anthony is the beneficiary of.

Adams on the other hand simply exposed the Lakers’ interior game, or lack thereof, by dominating the pick and roll game and offensive glass. LA is a team that has a lot of difficulty dealing with an active big man such as Adams, and the same was true on Wednesday.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, as OKC did get off to a slow start. They used a big second half to pull away from the Lakers, which has become a trend over the past few games.

Spotlight

The last three second halves for OKC have been quite impressive. Granted, they were against Hornets, Kings, and Lakers, but good numbers are good numbers, and it’d be tough to ignore this brief stretch.

Last night the Thunder used a huge third quarter to wake up and beat the Lakers by 24. They outscored LA 33-18 in the third frame, and gave up only 18 more points in the final quarter. Earlier this season, the third quarter was a nightmare for the Thunder. They’d come out of halftime and get punched in the mouth. Sluggish defense and a lack of efficiency became the third quarter motto, and oftentimes the second half all together. That’s certainly changed over the last month or so, and this three game winning streak is a great example.

Prior to giving up 36 points in the second half on Wednesday, OKC gave up just 36 second half points to the Kings on Monday, and only 32 to Charlotte on Saturday. This may seem like a brief trend, but winning these third quarters and second halves is such a drastic improvement from what we saw earlier this year.

Stepping up their defense has become a third quarter trend for Billy Donovan’s club, and it appears to be a winning formula at the moment.

Quick Rumbles

  • Andre Roberson finally returned to help bolster the Thunder defense. He played 17 minutes, finishing with 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. He was +21. It was great to see his premier defense back in action.
  • OKC outscored LA 26-4 on second-chance points. Adams had 7 of the team’s 21 offensive boards.
  • Westbrook started 1/9 from the field but made 7 of his final 13 shots. He finished with 19 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds.
  • The Thunder are now a season-high 5 games above .500. This is the 3rd time they’ve been here this season (20-15, 22-17, and 25-20).
  • Here’s your fix of entertaining Steven Adams responses. This time round, he acts like he doesn’t know what a finger roll is:
  • Speaking of Adams interviews, I feel as though I’ve done you all a disservice by forgetting to include his Peyton Manning anecdote from earlier in the week. My sincerest apologies, here’s the quote:
  • Floyd Mayweather was in attendance on Wednesday night, sitting courtside directly across from the Thunder bench. Some sources indicate that Conor McGregor was heard shouting at him from a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts shop.

A Look Ahead

OKC now has two days off before facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavs are currently on a 4 game losing streak. They face the Magic tonight at home before the Thunder come to town over the weekend.