OKC remains undefeated in their icon jersey. In one of the more impressive wins this season, the Thunder manage to take down the 2nd seed Nuggets in a typical close game for OKC. This team was able to do something that previous Thunder teams have struggled to do — beat the Nuggets.
The first half was played between two teams that looked like they had a week off — just a bunch of ugly and sloppy basketball. But both teams knocked off any rust they had in a very entertaining and close second half that saw OKC pull away behind their usual guys.
Chris Paul lead the way with 29 points in just three quarters (zero points in the first quarter) on a clean 11-17 shooting, that saw only one made field goal around the rim. Paul was able to get hot from deep, going 4-6 from three. Paul helped close things out in the fourth quarter by scoring nine points in the final 5:14 to give the Thunder a comfortable lead late that sealed the deal. Paul did finish with seven TOs though, which is a season high. Paul is averaging a career low 2.1 TOPG this season.
After having a week off, Steven Adams looked great and refreshed tonight, especially in the 2nd half. Adams finished with 19 points (10 of those on a perfect 4-4 in the fourth) and 17 rebounds with seven of those on the offensive side. Adams also had two assists, four steals and two blocks. This was one of Adams’ better games this season and what makes it even more impressive is he did it against the Nuggets bigs combo of Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee. Adams has gotten a lot of flack over the years for Jokic dominating their matchup, but I think that speaks more on how elite of a player Jokic is. When you are a top 15 player in the league, like Jokic is, he’ll get his against anybody. All a team can do is make him earn it. Jokic ended up with 32 points but he only scored four on just two shots in the fourth quarter.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggled scoring the ball tonight, but was able to contribute in other ways. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with a near triple double of 11 points on 4-14 shooting and nine rebounds and nine assists.
In a weird off night, Danilo Gallinari had some really bad misses going just 4-14 from the field with 15 points. But the highlight of the night was arguably Gallinari’s and-one in the fourth quarter that pushed OKC’s lead to eight with 3:41 left. The shot looked janky and had “miss” all over but of course Gallinari makes it on a night that saw him badly miss some fairly open looks.
I love how much Doris Burke couldn’t stop gushing over Luguentz Dort defensive pedigree all game long. It’s about time Dort gets some national media love for how confident and competent he has looked on both sides on the ball, especially on defense with his big frame. In the second quarter, there was a sequence where Dort stole the ball twice in a 10 second stretch. Neither steal resulted in points but, as Burke pointed out on the broadcast, if you’re a two-way player who is trying to earn that elusive full time NBA contract, then watching how much Dort fights on each play is a great way to earn that contract.
Dennis Schroder rolled his ankle pretty nasty in the third quarter and subbed out but eventually finished the game. That has to be something the Thunder will have to monitor to see if Schroder will have to miss any time. Schroder scored 11 points on 4-9 shooting.
Overall, this was a great win for the Thunder. They were able to beat one of the best teams in the league, despite a poorish start in one of their few nationally televised games this season.