The Thunder have been slumping lately, losers of three of four heading into tonight. But a shorthanded Blazers team seemed to be the best medicine to get their groove back. OKC was able to build up an early big lead and was in control for the entire game.
OKC was able to win this one with ease behind a vintage Chris Paul performance, scoring 30 points on an efficient 11-15 shooting along with seven assists and just one turnover. Paul was aggressive all game long and looked to score, he had control of the offense and got whatever he wanted throughout the game. Paul was able to take advantage of the fact that the only true big the Blazers had tonight was Hassan Whiteside by throwing pin point alley oop after alley oop to his rolling bigs.
His backcourt partner helped secure this win too. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 points on 9-17 shooting but grabbed 10 rebounds and even finished with five assists. These type of performances have become the norm for Gilgeous-Alexander this season. Attacking the rim must’ve has always been a specialty for Gilgeous-Alexander and he was able to slice and dice the Blazers’ D all night long, finishing with ease on his signature slow drives.
Plenty of other contributors in tonight’s blowout win. A bunch of the bench players were able to step up with Danilo Gallinari and Terrance Ferguson absent this game.
Nerlens Noel scored 15 points and blocked two shots in 19 minutes off the bench, he was very active on the defensive end and was the recipient of some crisp lob passes from his guards.
Dennis Schroder didn’t score until late in the third quarter but still managed to put up 15 points on 5-11 shooting with four assists in just the last 18 minutes this game.
Even guys like Luguentz Dort and Deonte Burton contributed. Dort was a pest on defense, hounding Damian Lillard all game and drawing charges. Dort even helped out on offense with seven points. Burton scored nine points on 4-6 shooting that included some impressive drives to the basket that resulted in acrobat layups and dunks.
In his short time with OKC, Dort has been very impressive on the floor, especially on the defensive end. He plays with confidence and uses his big frame for his advantage on defense, hounding guards all game long. It’s only a matter of time before the Thunder convert the two way player into a full time NBA player.
Darius Bazley was given the starting nod and finished with nine points and 13 rebounds. Bazley was very active on the boards and used his wing span to reach out and grab the ball from the opposition. His shooting is suspect as he only went 2-9 from the field but Bazley was able to get to the line a healthy amount by going 5-6 from the charity stripe.
Steven Adams had a quiet game with just five points on 1-7 shooting but grabbed nine rebounds and had three assists that included a perfect pass to a cutting Gilgeous-Alexander. Adams passing abilities has got to be one of the most impressive under-the-radar improvements on this team this season.
Even with the Blazers being shorthanded, the Thunder defense was great tonight. Holding to the Blazers to just 106 points while shooting 43.5% from the field and having more turnovers than assists. OKC did a great job at containing Damian Lillard, who scored 34 points on 10-23 shooting. Those 34 points were hard earned for Lillard and nobody else on the Blazers really stepped up to manufacture their own offense except for maybe Gary Trent Jr., who scored 30 points but 11 of those came in garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Overall, this was a great bounce back win for a team that desperately needed one. OKC was able to come out and be aggressive from the tip off after having slow starts for the past week. OKC was able to jump the depleted Blazers and growing a double digit lead early on that they never really lost grip of.