We finally have some Thunder basketball after a long three days off!
The Pelicans made a tweak to their starting lineup tonight. Guard Tim Frazier started the game on the bench and E’Twaun Moore took his place as a starter. Frazier had started all 20 games for the Pelicans up to this point. Tough day for Timmy, his Penn State Nittany Lions get left out of the College Football Playoff and he gets moved to the bench.
Overall, the Thunder controlled this game from the jump on the way to their 5th straight win.
The Thunder started out very active on defense, forcing turnovers and turning them into points on the other end. The Pelicans had 8 total turnovers in the first half leading to 11 Thunder points. On the offensive side of things, the Thunder were moving the ball well in their half court sets and absolutely dominating the Pelicans in the paint.
The Pelicans, as expected, went to Anthony Davis early and often. The Thunder started with Steven Adams on the Brow, but Sabonis, Grant and Laurvegne also took a run at the NOLA big man. Davis still did his thing with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the first half, but the Thunder didn’t allow any of the other Pelicans players to get going early.
Steven Adams left the game in the second quarter with a sprained ankle. He landed awkwardly in the first quarter, but stayed in the game at first. This caused a problem for the Thunder because Adams was the main defender they wanted on Davis. Adams or no Adams, Davis was going to get his (37 points and 15 rebounds) because he is just really good at basketball, but losing the Big Kiwi definitely was a significant blow to the Thunder D. The trio of Sabonis, Lauvergne and Grant weren’t much of a match for the Pelican all-star.
As I mentioned above, the Thunder’s ball movement was magnificent in the first half. This was a really fun game to watch and it was definitely due to the Thunder’s precise passing and ability to find the right man for the right shot all game long. Speaking of the right shot, neither team shot very well from distance in the first half. The Pelicans were 2-14 and the Thunder were 0-15. Yes, you read that correctly, they missed all 15 threes they attempted in the first two quarters. Brian Davis said on the broadcast that the Thunder went 0-15 about four years ago against Denver, so it’s not a common occurrence. There were a lot of air balls too:
Spolier alert, the Thunder made a three in the second half. They actually went on to make 6 of them. Westbrook started out aggressive and looking to score coming out of the break. The ball movement and pace were still solid for the Thunder in the second half, and it was almost the opposite for the Pelicans. They only recorded 15 assists the entire game, running nearly everything through Anthony Davis in isolation sets.
Buddy Hield had a career night on his first trip back to Oklahoma and single-handedly cut the Thunder lead down to four with just under two minutes left to play with a pair of back to back triples. But Russell Westbrook nailed a 3 with 51 seconds left to put the Thunder up 7 and basically seal the deal. Aside from a couple of late runs, the Thunder were in the driver’s seat on their way to tonight’s victory.
- Great quote from Gentry before the game
- Adams started on Anthony Davis and Sabonis on Asik.
- Alvin Gentry took a timeout 43 seconds into the game. You don’t see that every day.
- Thunder were getting whatever they wanted on offense early
- Morrow the first sub into the game for the thunder. Shoots a 3 the first time he touched the ball. Love it!
- Speaking of Morrow 3’s, I wish he would do the dance he does during his hand shake with Oladipo after he makes a three
- Thunder shot a horrid 13-26 from the free throw line.
- Westbrook’s hesitation move to get to the rim is nasty. Chris Paul might be the only one who does it better.
- Happy 25th birthday to Andre Roberson!
- When the finish on the and-1 is so smooth that you deserve a kiss.
- Russ recorded his first ever triple double against the Pelicans with 28p-17a-12r
- 10 turnovers for Russ, not good.
- “Kanter like a cat, quick in tight spaces to score” – Brian Davis
- The Thunder had 33 points off the bench to the Pelicans 30. 16 of those 30 coming from Hield.
- Joffrey had 11 rebounds. His season average is 3.6 per game.
- The Thunder had some exciting fast breaks tonight, including this one.
- Pretty wild stat here:
Next up: Away against the Hawks tomorrow night at 6:30 CST.