25 thoughts from the Thunder’s 114-102 win over the Grizzlies
25 thoughts for 25 triple-doubles.
1. Hold on, still processing what Russell Westbrook did. Gonna need a few.
2. OK, so, that was neat. He had 38-13-12, which is super, but it was mostly just about the final 2:34 of the game. He had 19 in the fourth quarter, with 15 — 15! — coming in the final 2:34 of the game. In fact, he outscored Memphis 15-0 in those final 2:34. Of which included, three free throws to tie the game, a 3 to go up three, and another 3 to go up six.
3. Then he had this steal, which I’m telling you, I feel like I could see coming a mile away because of the way Westbrook was stalking around crouched at midcourt before exploding to go get the ball. An outrageous play.
4. I loved Anthony Morrow’s quote about it: “He does whatever it takes to win on both ends of the floor. That was just a signature Russell Westbrook play. He would’ve made that same play in practice.”
5. The way Westbrook pushed the Thunder to win that game was rather spectacular. Coming off the humiliating game against the Bulls, it was clear he was intent on making sure they got this one. That kind of performance felt very MVP-y to me.
6. For all the rebound truthers out there, this one hurt the cause. Westbrook hauled in 13, with at least 10 of them hard, contested and absolutely vital rebounds. Like his big defensive one in the final two minutes over two Grizz defenders. Or his offensive rebounds that led to four big points. Rebounding matters. Don’t let some party pooper convince you otherwise.
7. Steven Adams played a monster game. He played 44 minutes, and hauled in 11 offensive rebounds. There wasn’t much he could do at times with Marc Gasol, who was simply brilliant, but Adams was physical, tough and important. Mate.
8. I just thought of this: Did anyone use the headline “Check. Mate.” when Adams got his extension?
9. Nick Collison making a late push at MVP. Or Sixth Man. Or Most Bloody. Mr. Thunder went out and played 11 classic minutes of CollisonBall, banging wit Z-Bo on the block, diving for loose balls which resulted in stitches by his eye after smashing his face on the floor, taking charges, pulling in offensive rebounds and just doing all around Little Things to help OKC win. I think above all, it was the professionalism of Collison going in and doing that that could be good for OKC’s young guys to see.
10. Joffrey Lauvergne had a nice little game. A Thunder-high 16 points, 3-4 from 3 and 8 rebounds. Some of the shots were quite large, too. Good to see Lauvergne getting back out to the 3-point line. That makes him much more effective.
11. I think it might be time to consider taking Sabonis out of the starting five, at least for a few games. Maybe until Kanter comes back. Start Lauvergne and put Sabonis in the Kanter role, not necessarily playing through him, but giving him a chance to feature a bit in the second unit. Sabonis was clearly overwhelmed by this one, playing maybe his worst game of the season. In 11 minutes he had two points, a rebound, a missed dunk and five turnovers. Donovan subbed him out less than three minutes into the second half and didn’t put him back in. When Sabonis went out, he looked quite down.
12. Cameron Payne played his best game of the season. He was comfortable running offense, attacked wisely, and played some really good defense on Mike Conley. Let’s see if that’s a little boost to Payne and can get him directed toward being the player he’s capable of being.
13. Donovan on Westbrook: “This is what I’m saying, people write so much about his triple-doubles, his numbers, his stats, his minutes, his usage and all that other stuff, but I really think people miss it. They really miss it. Those things are remarkable and incredible and I’m not undervaluing what he’s done statistically, but it’s the constant awareness of what’s going on in the game. It’s surveying things. It’s recognizing what’s happening.”
14. Westbrook changed his shoes going into the fourth. The reason? “Yeah man, that s— was rubbing my toe,” he said. He scored 19 in the fourth.
15. Anthony Morrow shot the ball well. And hit some really timely 3s — 15 points in 19 minutes. That’s the A-Mo everyone wants to see playing more.
16. Alex Abrines missed his third straight game with back spasms.
17. Will Jerami Grant ever try to dunk on someone? Dude is a crazy dunker, but he gets into the paint and wants to eurostep and lay stuff up. Hit the bounce and try and YAM on somebody, man!
18. Andre Roberson was much better offensively, mainly because he didn’t just stand quietly in a corner and shoot wide open 3s. He got on the move, making smart cuts. And if you make a good cut and are open, Westbrook will find you.
19. Donovan talked about making some offensive tweaks, one of which trying to spark Roberson to move more. He said teams are defending Roberson differently this season, and he’s having a hard time adjusting to that.
20. Gasol is so, so good. That Dirk fadeaway he’s got may be the most unguardable shot in the game. I don’t know what you do with it.
21. Did I say how great Nick Collison was yet? Because he was super great.
22. Not a great game from Oladipo. He was good defensively, but not good shooting (3-14) and couldn’t get much going in attacking. He did have three assists, though, which is good.
23. Can I just say it? I’m gonna just say it. That was an atrociously officiated game, all the way around.
24. OKC hit 13-26 from 3. That was helpful.
25. Next up: Home against the Blazers on Super Bowl National Football League Sunday.