OKC defeated the Atlanta Hawks last night in another edition of “it wasn’t pretty.” We’ve been saying it for a few weeks now: it doesn’t matter how the Thunder get it done, as long as they escape with a win. They were able to do so in night two of their most recent back-to-back, but this gritty victory had an important accolade attached to it.
Russell Westbrook finished the night with 32-12-12, good for his third triple-double in a row, 21st of the season, and 100th of his career. He’s just the fourth player all-time to reach the century mark. He joined the prestigious club in classic Russ fashion, controlling the game on his own in the fourth with the absences of Paul George and Steven Adams. He recieved a nice ovation from the fans in Atlanta. Here’s his reaction, plus some chanting from Melo:
Westbrook gets asked about the Atlanta crowd cheering for him and gets interrupted by Melo starting to loudly chant “Russell! Russell!” pic.twitter.com/4PENLiqnWv— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) March 14, 2018
Congrats to Russ on this tremendous achievement. For more on Westbrook’s journey to 100, ESPN’s Royce Young looked back on some of his career highlights.
After the win. First things first. The interview with @nickgallo22 on @FoxSportsOK pic.twitter.com/YhcOuDrgRb— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 14, 2018
OKC was able to control the second half, locking down on defense and holding the Hawks to just 41 points in the final 24 minutes. With Paul George leaving the game with a groin injury, the bench had to step up, and they did just that. Once again, the Thunder received a phenomenal effort from Jerami Grant.
Grant was huge for the Thunder last night, drawing some key offensive fouls in the fourth quarter that allowed them to extend their lead late in this one. The 24-year-old finished last night with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in 33 minutes. And just as he helped ice the Spurs over the weekend, once again Westbrook hunted for Grant for a corner 3 to push back the Hawks after they had tied the game in the 4th.
Grant has now played 20+ minutes in 6 of the Thunder’s last 7 games, and it’s becoming more and more evident how vital he’s going to be for Billy Donovan down the stretch. He’s also 50% or higher from the field in 8 of his last 9 games. Grant’s providing the consistent punch off the bench that the Thunder need, and it’s helping immensely over this four-game winning streak.
This is not to take away from the rest of the bench, as guys like Patrick Patterson (12 points on Tuesday) and Raymond Felton have given Donovan very productive minutes as well. But it’s Grant who’s been the standout contributor.
Also he does stuff like this:
Jerami Grant. That's a hammer. pic.twitter.com/geqjhnxSF3— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) March 14, 2018
Jerami Grant has been massive. Russ loves every bit of it. pic.twitter.com/O0YivKkXtJ— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) March 14, 2018
What Jerami Grant sees on nights like this pic.twitter.com/nIuhLxraJk— Jon Hamm (@JonMHamm) March 14, 2018
- As I mentioned before, Paul George left Tuesday night’s game with a groin injury. He said postgame that he feels alright and should be good to go on Friday against the Clippers.
- Russ is now 7 triple-doubles away from tying Jason Kidd as third all-time.
- Carmelo Anthony had 21 points via 6/11 shooting from deep.
- Alex Abrines selfie update:
Good job!! #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/F74dSdsE8l— Alex Abrines (@alexabrines) March 14, 2018
- The Thunder remain in fourth place in the Western Conference at 41-29. They’re currently 1.5 games behind the third-place Trail Blazers.
A Look Ahead
OKC heads back home to face the Clippers on Friday night, looking to extend their winning streak to five. Official updates on Paul George and Steven Adams will most likely come in the next few days.