The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Clippers at home, 110-104. After suffering two tough losses on the road, OKC found a measure of balance within the confines of the Peake, grabbing a big win over a Western Conference rival and ending the skid.
While OKC was still far from perfect and much will need to happen between now and April, winning imperfectly is always better than losing, and the Thunder push themselves back to 8 games over .500 and stand firm in the top half of the West. The Thunder were again led by Paul George, who is having some kind of stretch. After tonight’s game of 33 points on 11-19 shooting (5-9 from three) to go along with 7 boards and 6 assists, in the month of December PG is recording an eye-dropping 29PPG on 51% shooting from the floor, 43% from three, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and over 2 steals per game.
Once again OKC relied on their perimeter defensive strategy to create the space they needed against LA. Now you might think, the Clips shot 51% from the floor and 13-25 from beyond the arc; that’s not good perimeter defense. But the way OKC’s effectiveness manifested tonight was in causing the Clips to commit 26 turnovers on the night, 7 by Danilo Gallinari and 6 by Avery Bradley. And halfway through the 4th quarter, LA’s high-powered offense had scored only 84 points in the game.
The Thunder bookended their week with a win in similar fashion as the Utah win — by setting themselves up for an easy victory through 3 quarters, then giving themselves and us a scare by taking it easy in the 4th. Despite being down 16, the Clips made a game out of it and had a chance to pull within 4 when Westbrook had to foul Montrezl Harrell with 20 seconds to go. Fortunately in a coincidental turnabout, he missed both, and OKC held on.
Russell Westbrook again struggled with his shot, hitting only 4-17, yet somehow 3-4 from three. I don’t even know. However, you can tell he’s fighting against the urges of his own inner psyche, because even though he’s still hunting for his shot, he’s not letting that urge overwhelm his sensibility and he’s been keeping the focus on providing scoring opportunities for George, Steven Adams (16 points) and Grant (18 points). Furthermore, and even better, despite bad habit relapses from time to time, he’s staying within the defensive scheme, and he nabbed a game-high 6 steals, in part leading to those 26 turnovers by LA.
Another rough shooting night for Westbrook, who was 1-13 on 2-pointers and 3-4 on 3-pointers, but he did a lot of really good other things. Ran solid offense and brought a ton of defensive energy, playing an extremely disruptive game.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) December 16, 2018
In close, still much to work on, but the Thunder course corrected quickly after dropping last night’s game in Denver and should feel a measure of satisfaction as the week ends.
Final thought. This Thunder job has to be slightly less enticing than the folks who have to rub oil on swimsuit models.
Much respect to the guy who has to clean blood off of Steven Adams’ butt. pic.twitter.com/SMs5rtFDCX— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) December 16, 2018