Down 19 with 7:20 remaining in the third quarter, it appeared as though the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first road win of the 2018-19 season would have to wait. The offense was sputtering (35 percent shooting in the first half), Paul George was struggling, and the Hornets were in position to push OKC to a 2-5 record.
Then Alex Abrines happened.
Abrines caught fire midway through the third, hitting 3-of-4 from downtown and scoring 15 of his career-high 25 points in a massive Thunder rally. OKC was able to trim Charlotte’s lead to 77-73 heading into the final frame — which proved close enough for Russell Westbrook to finish it out.
Westbrook shot 6-of-7 in the fourth, scoring 13 points in the final 12 minutes to put the Thunder in the lead. Though the Hornets would cut the Thunder’s advantage to 103-102 with 1:27 to play, a Dennis Schroder three-pointer put OKC up 106-102 on the next possession and the lead was safe from that point forward.
Westbrook led the way for the Thunder with 29 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds. Abrines dropped 25 points on 5-of-10 shooting from downtown. Schroder was next up for OKC, as he put up 21 points and 5 assists.
The Thunder are back in action tomorrow night in D.C., facing John Wall and the Washington Wizards. That game tips-off at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Alex Abrines highlights:
Russell Westbrook highlights:
Dennis Schroder highlights:
Si Senor: Can’t say enough about Alex Abrines in this one. He always seemed to be in the right spot to catch and shoot, was active without the basketball, and played solid defense down the stretch — even when he found himself switched onto Kemba Walker. The 25 points were a career-high — and hey — shooters tend to shoot well in stretches. He’ll try to keep it rolling tomorrow night against the Wizards.
The Backup: Dennis Schroder had his finest performance in a Thunder uniform, dropping 21 points in 30 minutes off the bench. None of his 21 points were bigger than the three to put OKC up four with a little more than a minute to play. The comeback doesn’t happen if he and Abrines don’t supply the juice off the bench.
Quiet PG: Very forgettable night for Paul George, as he finished his night with 11 points and 10 rebounds on 4-of-20 shooting — including 0-of-10 from downtown. As always, he was solid defensively, pitching in four steals and three blocks. While it’s encouraging to grab a win with him being so ineffective on offense, the Thunder won’t win many when he struggles like this.
5K: Russell Westbrook recorded eight rebounds in the contest. Number seven gave him 5,000 for his career.
The Other Guys: Kemba Walker and Malik Monk led the Hornets with 21 points apiece. They were joined in double-figures by Tony Parker (17), Jeremy Lamb (13), and Nicolas Batum (10).
Back at it tomorrow night. The Thunder will be looking to reach .500 for the first time this season.