The Thunder have had a roller coaster season thus far, but when it comes to playing on the big stage against top opponents, OKC has been as consistent as anyone in the league. Saturday was no different, as they continued to relish the spotlight.
On a day that was supposed to be headlined by LeBron James’ 30,000th point, it was the boys in blue who stole the show. And while the quote in the headline could easily have applied to OKC’s wipeout of the Cavs, in fact it was Westbrook considering LeBron’s approaching a historic career milestone ahead of the matchup:
Russell Westbrook on LeBron James being on the cusp of 30,000 points: “That’s crazy, man. That’s a lot of damn points.” pic.twitter.com/cKpQ9M6aC1— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) January 19, 2018
Steven Adams kept his world takeover tour rolling, as the Thunder big man had a cool 25 and 10 on 12/13 shooting. Paul George dropped 36 (12/19 FG), Carmelo Anthony had 29 (11/19 FG), and Russell Westbrook scored 23 to go along with 20 assists and 9 rebounds for the second 20-20 game of his career.
This all contributed to OKC putting up 148 points, which was the franchise’s highest point total since the team moved to the Sooner state. Some of that may be a testament to Cleveland’s lack of defense, but 148 points is quite the offensive performance, regardless of the circumstances, and doubly so given OKC’s struggles this season.
Consider The King impressed:
Saturday was exactly what the Thunder look for when they have the ball. Westbrook’s aggressive play sets the tone, which opens up Anthony’s catch-and-shoot game alongside George’s efficiency. It was perfect, as it has been many times before against the league’s top talent.
OKC plays up and down, depending on their competition. It’s not the greatest strategy, but it certainly makes primetime games a ton of fun.
The Thunder are 4-0 this season against Golden State, Houston, Toronto, and Cleveland. They’re the only team in the NBA to be undefeated against those four teams.
It’s clear that the Thunder can play with the league’s best. They proved it on Christmas Day, on November 22nd against the Warriors, and yesterday at Quicken Loans Arena.
So why don’t they run teams out of the gym every night? Well, consistency has been an issue. Maybe motivation is a factor, maybe not. But one thing is for sure, OKC loves making statements in big games.
- Paul George was tasked with guarding LeBron James for the majority of this one, and he was clearly up for the task, holding LeBron to 18, 7 points shy of 30,000.
- OKC is 18-8 since December 1.
- Enes Kanter shared his thoughts on the game, not to mention his continued subtle trolling on LeBron...
- Here’s a Russ tidbit from Royce Young:
Through 46 games, Russell Westbrook is averaging 24.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg and 10.1 apg. Assuming he plays all 82, he needs to average 10.4 rebounds and 9.9 assists in the remaining 36 games to average a triple-double again.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 21, 2018
- The Fab Four (We’re going to make this a thing) combined for 113 points on 65.7% shooting. If they just did that every night, the Thunder would never lose. So let’s just do that more often.
- 121 points from the OKC starters was a season-high.
- 37 assists was also a season-high.
- Another season-high: 43 points in the first quarter. That’s the most OKC has scored in any quarter this year.
A Look Ahead
OKC heads home to face Brooklyn on Tuesday night. Here’s the first test after their huge Saturday in Cleveland.