Thunder Cruise in Miami, Beat Heat 118-102 for Seventh Straight Win
The Oklahoma City Thunder (33-18) won their seventh straight game on Friday night in Miami, defeating the Heat (24-26) at American Airlines Arena by a final score of 118-102. Paul George led the way for the Thunder, scoring 43 points — which included a career-high 10 three-pointers. Dennis Schroder had his most efficient game of his Thunder career, scoring 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field. Not to be understated, Russell Westbrook recorded his fifth straight triple-double and 18th on the season, with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra rolled out the seldom used 2-3 zone defense against the Thunder for the entirety of the first quarter, but that didn’t stop George from coming out guns blazing. George scored 16 points, including 3/3 from beyond the arc, in the opening quarter. Westbrook also had his way with the Heat’s zone, piling up eight assists in the opening frame. The Thunder led 31-24 after one.
The Thunder had one of those second quarters, where every single thing went their way. Dennis Schroder didn’t miss a shot in the quarter, going 9/9 from the field, including 4/4 from downtown and 2/2 from the line, scoring 24 points. Those 24 points were the most Schroder had ever scored in a single quarter in his career. In total, the Thunder scored 41 points on 62.5 percent shooting in the second, at one point leading by as many as 23 points. The Heat had no choice but to scrap their 2-3 zone midway through the quarter, as the Thunder led 72-53 at the break. George and Schroder combined for 50 of the Thunder’s first-half points on a combined 18/22 from the field, including 9/11 from deep and 5/5 from the stripe. Westbrook pushed the pace, creating easy looks for his teammates with 12 assists in the half.
Oklahoma City’s offense predictably cooled off in the third, as the Thunder slept walked their way to 22 points in the quarter on a measly 33.3 percent from the field. Luckily for OKC, the Heat didn’t fare any better, scoring just 21 points on 36 percent from the floor. Westbrook picked up his fifth straight triple-double, recording his tenth rebound with 6:32 left in the quarter. The Thunder led 94-74 after three.
Billy Donovan’s bunch was in cruise-control for the fourth quarter, which surprisingly saw the Thunder starters play extensive minutes, as the bench wasn’t cleared until the two minute mark. The Thunder will look to make it eight straight wins when the Thunder go into TD Garden on Super Bowl Sunday to face the Boston Celtics in the season’s first ABC Sunday Showcase.
South Beach P: PG is simply a man possessed these days. After converting eight three-pointers in Sunday’s victory over Milwaukee, George outdid himself with a career-high 10 threes on Friday night in Miami. In total, MVPG recorded 43 points (14/23 FG, 10/16 3P, 5/6 FT), seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. This was PG’s fourth 40-point game of the year. Insert your nightly MVP superlative.
Schroder’s Stroke: Schroder’s 84.6 field goal percentage was a season-high, as his perfect second quarter from the field was a sight to behold. Spoelstra dared the Thunder backcourt to penetrate his 2-3 zone and Schroder obliged. By night’s end, Schroder had 28 points (11/13 FG, 4/6 3P, 2/2 FT), and two rebounds. With the hot-hand tonight, Schroder didn’t look elsewhere for offense, as tonight was only his third game without recording an assist.
Fifth Straight Triple-Double: Since playing out of control in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, Westbrook has really been dialed in during OKC’s seven-game winning streak. He’s shown tremendous burst from baseline-to-baseline and is starting to pick and choose his spots nicely on the floor. The five straight triple-doubles is the longest streak of the season for the Russ.
Three-Point Shooting Disparity: The Miami Heat have five rotation players who shoot 35 percent or better from three, but it was the Thunder, thanks in large part to George and Schroder, who outshot the Heat from long range tonight. The Thunder shot 53.3 percent from downtown, whereas the Heat struggled with 30.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Everyone Else: For as well as PG and Schroder played tonight, everyone else on the Thunder didn’t bring much offensively. Outside of PG and Schroder, the Thunder shot 33.9 percent from the field. Thankfully the Thunder didn’t need much outside of their two high-scorers, as OKC was in control throughout.