Thunder Come Alive After Halftime, Beat Nets 108-96
The Oklahoma City Thunder (42-26) defeated the Brooklyn Nets (36-34) on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena by a final score of 108-96. The Thunder were lackadaisical in the first half — trailing by as many as 17 points, but used a big third quarter surge to get back in it. The Thunder capped it off by stringing together a 14-0 run midway through the fourth to pull away late. Russell Westbrook recorded his 26th triple-double of the season with an uber-efficient 31 points (12/23 FG, 4/8 3P), 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and three steals. Paul George broke out of his recent slump with a third-quarter flurry, totaling 25 points (9/18 FG, 3/6 3P) on the night. Spencer Dinwiddie carried the load for the visiting Nets, scoring 25 points in the loss.
The Thunder weren’t doing themselves any favors in the opening frame, as their first bucket didn’t come until the 7:56 mark with Westbrook’s three-pointer. OKC went 0-of-8 from the field before Westbrook’s three and Brooklyn capitalized by starting the game on an 11-1 run. The offense was next to nothing outside of the Brodie’s 10 points, with the rest of the Thunder shooting 18.8 percent from the field in the quarter. Brooklyn led 27-19 after one.
Brooklyn’s 2-3 zone defense kept the Thunder at bay in the second, as OKC’s offensive struggles continued. If you needed to look any further into just how bad the Thunder’s offense was, Westbrook’s single first-half assist didn’t come until the 4:20 mark of the second quarter. The Thunder didn’t fare much better on the other end of the floor, with Brooklyn getting far too many easy looks at the rim by way of shoddy pick-and-roll coverage. The Nets held a commanding 30-16 advantage in points in the paint. The Thunder showed signs of life — closing out the first half with four points in the final seven seconds after Terrance Ferguson stole the in-bounds pass following a Westbrook layup. The Nets took a 52-42 lead with them into the break.
After having difficulty finding his shot in the first half, George came alive in the third. The Thunder stormed out to a 20-6 run to start the quarter with George hitting back-to-back threes to put OKC up four at the 8:19 mark. The Thunder onslaught continued as Westbrook’s rock-the-baby-and-one sparked an 11-1 OKC run to push their lead to seven with 2:15 remaining in the quarter. George brought the Thunder back by scoring 13 points (5/7 FG, 2/3 3P) in the quarter and the Thunder led 80-78 going into the fourth.
Spencer Dinwiddie’s layup brought the Nets to within one at the 7:40 mark, and that was when the Thunder went to work. After a Nerlens Noel layup, Westbrook found Steven Adams with alley-oops on back-to-back possessions, and Big Kiwi’s block on Jarrett Allen led to a transition three from Jerami Grant, extending the Thunder lead to ten. On the next trip down, the ball found Russ with the shot clock winding down after a helter-skelter Thunder possession and the Brodie responded by nailing a three at the top of the key and shimmying back down the court.
An Adams tip-in capped the 14-0 run for the Thunder and their lead was 15 with 4:21 on the clock. The Thunder were in cruise control for the final minutes, coming away with the double-digit victory.
Westbrook & George:
Mr. Triple Double: Let’s face it: it’s been a tumultuous couple of days following the episode that occurred in Salt Lake City on Monday night. With emotions running higher than usual, Westbrook responded with one of his best performances of the season. After recording only a single assist in the first half, The Brodie turned things up a notch in the second half. Westbrook toyed with Brooklyn’s zone defense to the tune of 10 assists in the second half by frequently beating his man off the dribble and attacking the helper. In total, Westbrook recorded 31 points (12/23 FG, 4/8 3P, 3/5 FT), 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and three steals.
Burton Over Pat-Pat: With Markieff Morris out of the lineup nursing his sore neck, Billy Donovan elected to give the rookie out of Iowa State some extended run tonight. Deonte Burton rewarded Donovan’s trust as his back-to-back buckets at the rim to start the fourth helped the Thunder pull away. Burton played a total of 15 minutes tonight, scoring 7 points (3/7 FG, 1/2 3P), two rebounds, a steal. It’ll be interesting to see if Burton continues to receive the backup-four minutes while Morris is out.
Attacking The Zone: The Brooklyn zone stymied the Thunder offense in the first half, but Westbrook and Donovan made the necessary halftime adjustments. After struggling with a field goal percentage of only 35.6 in the first half, the Thunder found their groove and erupted with 66 points in the second half on 49 percent from the field. Westbrook deserves most, if not all, the credit in this one. He flipped the switch in the second half and Brooklyn had no answer for him. OKC outscored Brooklyn by 22 after halftime.
Turning Defense Into Offense: The Thunder forced only two turnovers in the first quarter but kicked it into gear from there on out, forcing 15 Brooklyn turnovers over the final three quarters, resulting in 22 points. This team has been slowly getting back to their defensive identity and tonight was another step in the right direction.
Right Back to It: The Thunder return to action tomorrow night in Indiana. That game tips at 6:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.