After losing a close game in Philadelphia, the Thunder return back to their winning ways tonight in Brooklyn. You can add this game to the ever growing collection of close games that the Thunder manage to win. Chris Paul once again stepped up in the clutch and helped secure an OT win for the Thunder.
Here are ten thoughts:
- It was announced earlier today that Danilo Gallinari would miss tonight’s game due to a bruised right calf. The Thunder offense takes a massive dip when Gallinari isn’t on the floor, having a +12.6 ORTG differential when he is on the court. Darius Bazley took his place in the starting lineup once again. Bazley did a good job filling in, scoring eight points in 15 minutes.
- Another clutch game, another great Chris Paul performance. Paul continues to show why he has been the best player in clutch situations this season. This was a sloppy, but close, game heading into the fourth quarter with the Nets leading by three. Paul was having a quiet night but stepped up huge in the fourth quarter and overtime scoring 20 points on 7-8 shooting. Paul kept hitting clutch jumper after jumper late. In a game where neither team had much on offense, Paul’s late contributions decided this game. Paul finished with 28 points on 9-15 shooting and went 4-8 from three.
- OKC’s other top player from tonight’s game was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 22 points on 8-18 shooting. Gilgeous-Alexander was having trouble attacking the paint with Jarrett Allen there, missing driving layups all game long. Gilgeous-Alexander saw that and started to take more nonpaint shots tonight, shooting and making multiple jumpers and floaters.
- OKC’s defense was great in tonight’s game. The Nets struggled to score with just 103 points on 98 shots and had a 92.0 ORTG. The Nets had team shooting splits of 40.8/ 29.7/ 75.0 while having a 19-17 AST:TO ratio. Nets’ leading scorer Spender Dinwiddie was blanketed all game long, scoring just 14 points on an abysmal 6-21 shooting, which included a scoreless first half. Despite the poor shooting night, Dinwiddie was given the opportunity to give the Nets a high chance to win this game with an away from the play foul from Dennis Schroder on a Nets’ inbound pass with just 11.7 seconds left in a tied game. Of course, Dinwiddie missed the free throw and a floater when the Nets collected an offensive rebound after the free throw miss. The Nets only managed to score two points in OT.
- After playing so well for so long, tonight was Dennis Schroder’s first bad game in what feels like forever. Schroder only scored 14 points on 5-16 shooting and almost single-handedly costed the Thunder the game with a dumb foul at the end of regulation that put Dinwiddie on the line for one with the ball. Luckily, Dinwiddie missed and the game went into overtime.
- Terrance Ferguson was great on defense tonight and was aggressive on offense, both great signs. Ferguson did a great job at defending the perimeter and following Joe Harris all night long. Harris scored just nine points on 3-12 shooting including going just 1-7 from three for the sharpshooter. Ferguson also did a great job on defending Dinwiddie on possessions that he was on him. On offense, Ferguson scored seven points on 3-7 shooting. Ferguson did more this game, not just settling for rushed three point shots and was actually attacking the basket.
- Steven Adams was a machine on the boards, grabbing 18 rebounds tonight. Adams also scored 10 points and had three assists. Adams led the game with a 23.4 REB%, which is impressive when sharing the floor against DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen, two great rebounders.
- In a game that was missing Gallinari and Nerlens Noel, Abdel Nader was given minutes tonight off the bench and stepped up. Nader scored seven points and stole the ball twice in 16 minutes. Nader did get in foul trouble thought, fouling four times in 1.25 quarters of action.
- This was the third game in four nights and it would’ve been understandable for OKC to lose this game due to fatigue. The offense saw the effects of tired legs tonight. But the defense was great all night long, staying active and defending well. This just goes to show you how well coached this team is, finding ways to win games when you aren’t playing your best. The Thunder have the best record in the NBA since Thanksgiving, going 15-5.
- Thursday night will mark the return of Russell Westbrook to Oklahoma City. Everybody here understands how special that night will be. It’s going to be emotional as Westbrook is going to be showered in cheers and applause from the crowd. There is so much that could be said about Russ but I’m going to keep it short and sweet on here like his media interactions usually are. Emotions aside, this is also a game between two of the hottest teams in the NBA and will make for a great game. Hopefully OKC steps up and wins this game in their first nationally televised game this season on TNT.