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Thunder Beat Pelicans 122-116, Lose Russell Westbrook to Ankle Injury

Thunder Beat Pelicans 122-116, Lose Russell Westbrook to Ankle Injury



The Thunder pushed their winning streak to five games tonight in Oklahoma City, beating the New Orleans Pelicans by a final score of 122-116. Paul George led the way with 23 points, 8 assists, and 4 steals. Dennis Schroder scored a season-high 22 points off the bench. However, the story of the night is Russell Westbrook — who left the game in the third quarter with an apparent ankle injury.

After a back-and-forth first half, the Thunder were leading 84-79 at the 4:30 mark of the third quarter. Westbrook elevated beside Anthony Davis of the Pelicans, then came down on the side of his left ankle and rolled it over in front of a suddenly silent crowd inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Westbrook hit the floor hard, immediately screaming and slapping the court in pain. He was able to stumble to his feet before needing assistance to the locker room and did not return. Per the Thunder, the early word is that he’s dealing with a left ankle sprain.

Westbrook’s exit left his Thunder teammates in charge of a five-point lead with a little more than a quarter to play, and his absence was immediately felt as the Pelicans quickly trimmed OKC’s lead to two. Right on cue, Hamidou Diallo reignited the crowd with two straight steal and slams — leading the Thunder to a 100-86 advantage headed into the fourth.

The fourth quarter belonged to Schroder, as he commanded the offense and shot 4-of-8 in the final frame. All told, he scored 16 of his season-high 22 points in the second half — including seven straight Thunder points late in the fourth that put OKC up 11 with 3:40 to go. Although the Pelicans would repeatedly get to the free throw line and claw as close as two points with 23.3 seconds remaining, the Thunder were able to go 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the closing seconds and came away with the 122-116 victory.

Full Highlights:

The Thunder move to 5-4 on the season with the win, but the victory obviously came with a serious cost. Per ESPN’s Royce Young, Westbrook’s initial x-rays have come back negative — but it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume this will cost him some games. All eyes will now be turned toward whatever status update the Thunder provide tomorrow.



Paul George highlights:

Dennis Schroder highlights:

Steven Adams highlights:


The Ankle. Other than the report of the x-rays coming back negative, this is all we have on the status of Russell Westbrook’s ankle:

Beating the Brow. Aside from Westbrook’s injury, the story of the night is the job Steven Adams and the Thunder bigs did defensively on Anthony Davis. The Brow put up 20 points and 8 rebounds but shot just 7-of-20 from the floor, and — dare I say it — was thoroughly outplayed by Adams (18 pts, 8 reb). Big Kiwi and Jerami Grant (13 pts) deserve a lot of credit for making life incredibly difficult for the MVP candidate. Julius Randle had 26 and 8 off the bench — so it wasn’t all good down low — but this was a win for the bigs considering they didn’t allow Davis to beat them himself.

Make the Free Ones. Although it was nice to get out of this one with a win, the Thunder yet again did themselves a great disservice at the free throw line. The final tally was 22-of-31 (71 percent), but critical misses late gave the Pelicans a chance to steal a win. This has been an issue for a while now and it’s bound to cost the Thunder some games sooner or later.

Six. Six Thunder players scored in double-figures, including George (23), Schroder (22), Adams (18), Grant (13), and Patrick Patterson — who dropped 10 off the bench on a perfect 3-of-3 evening from long range.

Hamidou Time. In the immediate aftermath of Westbrook’s exit, it was rookie Hamidou Diallo that provided the spark needed to close this one out. His back-to-back steal and slams reignited the crowd, re-established the momentum, and he couldn’t have been any bigger in his 11 minutes of action.

Moving Forward. The good news is that the Thunder picked up its fifth win in a row, moved over .500 for the first time this season, and was able to steady the ship after losing their MVP. The bad news is, well, the Thunder lost their MVP. While Schroder seemed perfectly capable down the stretch tonight, all you must do is look at the first two games of this season to see what life is like without Westbrook. While the initial reports all seem positive (we all thought it was his knee at first, right?), things could get tricky if Westbrook is out for an extended period of time.