The Thunder stumbled out of the gate on Sunday night in New Orleans, shooting 8-of-24 in the first quarter and trailing the Pelicans by eight after 12 minutes of basketball. With playoff positioning up for grabs in the congested Western Conference, it wasn’t an encouraging start for an OKC team that came in losers of three straight.
Paul George gave the Thunder life in the second quarter, scoring the first 11 OKC points to open the frame. The rest of the team followed suit, shooting 13-of-26 from the floor to outscore the Pelicans 33-22 in the second. George scored 19 points in the first half, helping lead the Thunder to a three-point advantage at the break.
Though the Pelicans were able to tie it up in the third quarter and got too close for comfort late, the Thunder never trailed in the second half. Russell Westbrook came alive after a forgettable start, scoring 18 points after halftime en route to his 24th triple-double of the season. George, Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams combined to score 83 points for the Thunder. Jerami Grant was again pivotal off the bench, scoring 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
The win pushes the Thunder to 45-33 with just four games remaining in the regular season. OKC is now a game up on Minnesota for fifth place in the Western Conference. New Orleans falls to eighth with the loss. Back in action on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, when Kevin Durant and the Warriors pay a visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena.
43.2: It wasn’t a particularly pretty night from the floor, with OKC hitting just 43.2 percent of attempted field goals. On the flip side, the Pelicans hit 45.8 percent.
29: The Thunder went just 9-of-31 from downtown, good for 29 percent.
+7: OKC won 51-44 on the glass, including 14-7 on the offensive end.
18 & 21: The Thunder didn’t take care of the basketball, turning it over 18 times. Fortunately, the OKC defense forced the Pelicans into committing 21 turnovers of their own.
-19: The Pelicans bench outscored Thunder reserves 41-22.
3 & 4: There were three lead changes and four ties.
A nice night for Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams, and Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder’s core group of four combined to score 83 points on 30-of-66 shooting (45.5 percent), their most productive collective effort in recent memory.
Final stat lines and highlights:
Westbrook: 26 pts, 15 reb, 13 ast, 2 stl, 9/17 FG, 8/11 FT, +15
The triple-double was Westbrook’s 24th of the season and he enjoyed a great bounce-back effort from the floor after struggling with his shot in recent Thunder losses. He did turn the ball over seven times, so it wasn’t a perfect effort. Considering he was 0-of-4 and scoreless after one quarter, it’s hard to be too upset with any aspect of his night.
George: 27 pts, 8 reb, 3 stl, 9/24 FG, 2/10 3P, -11
George caught fire in the second quarter, scoring the Thunder’s first 11 points of the frame. He had 19 points two minutes into the second — then hit a brick wall with his shot. He would miss 10 out of his next 11 attempts and finished 9-of-24 for the night. Strange, inconsistent night for PG13. Even still, his play at the beginning of a pivotal second quarter turnaround was huge.
Adams: 14 pts, 10 reb, 6 TO, 6/9 FG, -3
Steven Adams notched his 28th double-double of the season against the Pelicans, scoring 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. While he was effective on the offensive end, his biggest contribution was making life difficult for Anthony Davis. He fought through screens, played physical, and had Davis off of his game enough for OKC to take advantage.
Melo: 16 pts, 6 reb, 6/16 FG, 4/8 3P, +3
Melo went 4-of-8 from downtown, his third consecutive game shooting 50 percent or better from downtown. He attempted too many shots in the mid-range — not really all that shocking. He needs to clean those up but he’s now 12-of-21 from downtown in the last three contests.
Some OK3 highlights:
Defending Brow & Jrue
If a guy can drop an underwhelming stat line of 25 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, Anthony Davis did just that tonight. He shot 8-of-17 from the floor — certainly acceptable. However, the Thunder defense was able to throw him off just enough to not get destroyed. After a 5-of-12 first half, he shot just five times after halftime. Perhaps it was a byproduct of a bum ankle but he just didn’t look as dominant as usual.
The Pelicans got a dud out of Jrue Holiday, as he scored 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting. He had scored 20+ in three out of New Orleans’ last four games — so this was a success for the Thunder defense.
Grant the Super Sub. Jerami Grant came off the bench and contributed 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting in 17 minutes. Another effective effort for a guy that’s coming into his own.
2Pat & Alex. Nice nights off the bench for Patrick Patterson and Alex Abrines. Neither did much in the box score, but both contributed important minutes. Patterson (3 pts, 2 reb, 2 stl) was a +8 in 14 minutes. Abrines (3 pts, 1/3 FG) was a +10 in 23 minutes.
No Ferguson. Terrance Ferguson drew a DNP. He averaged 12.5 minutes per game in March, so this was interesting.
The Other Guys. Six Pelicans scored in double-figures: Davis (25), Ian Clark (16), E’Twaun Moore (15), Darius Miller (14), Holiday (12), and Rajon Rondo 11-8-9.