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Thunder Views: We love Paul (and Alex)

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Russ and Melo missed their second straight game, but OKC couldn’t miss in the first half.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder

Game two without Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony went much better than the first go-round.

OKC exploded for 74 points in a first half that included a Thunder-record 12 three pointers. The long distance shooting was the difference last night, as OKC finished with 16 treys, tied for a franchise record, compared to the Grizzlies’ 6.

They entered the break up 20 and cruised to an 18 point victory. Memphis also had 17 turnovers and shot just 39% from the floor. Not a great night for the visitors.

Paul George naturally had 33 points and 8 assists to lead five Thunder players in double figures, 16 of which came in the first quarter. He’s averaging 30.6 PPG since the start of February. Even though Russ has missed two straight games, it’s clear that George has moved from option B to 1A over the last few weeks.

The bench combo of Patrick Patterson and Jerami Grant continued to show signs of growth, as they each went for 14 points. Both were efficient and comfortable for the entirety of their time on the floor. They’re extremely valuable off the bench, especially in games like tonight when key starters are missing.

But let’s talk about Alex Abrines.


Abrines was 1 for 6 from beyond the arc on Thursday night in Los Angeles. He was getting open looks, but like the rest of the team, his shots just were not falling. That’ll happen over the course of an 82 game season, but so will games where everything is falling. Abrines and his teammates had one of those nights on Sunday.

The Spaniard had 16 points and 6 rebounds on 6/13 shooting (4/7 3PT). No, it’s not the most jaw dropping line you’ll ever see, but last night was vitally important for Abrines’ confidence going forward.

With Andre Roberson out for the remainder of the season, Billy Donovan is relying on Abrines to give him consistent, quality minutes. They’ll need his long range ability, but his improvements on defense are even more important to OKC’s potential success. Donovan pointed this out last night.

If Abrines can use his length to his advantage on the defensive side of the ball, the Thunder will have a much easier time attempting to make up for Roberson’s absence. Sunday night was a great start.

Quick Rumbles

  • Lakers fans chanted “We want Paul” on Thursday night in LA, so last night Thunder fans made sure PG felt the love in OKC as well.
  • The second half of last night’s game was pretty irrelevant, as OKC scored just 36 points in the final 24 minutes. Maybe irrelevant isn’t the right word, but whatever it was, it was causing media members to cry for help.
  • Despite the blowout win, OKC struggled from the line, going 26/40 at the stripe.
  • Ray Felton had 14 points and 8 assists because he’s the greatest bowling baller in the league. We’ll choose to ignore his inefficiency.

A Look Ahead

OKC welcomes the new look Cavs to town on Tuesday night. Cleveland looked very sharp in their first game with the new entire group, dominating the Celtics on Paul Pierce night.

Ideally Russ and Melo will return to face LeBron and the gang, but there are no updates on their status at this point.