The Oklahoma City Thunder won their third straight on Monday night in Detroit, riding 21 points and six rebounds from Steven Adams to a 110-83 blowout victory over the Pistons. Despite sloppy offense early on, the Thunder defense was stifling throughout — holding Detroit to just 33 percent shooting (18.8 percent from deep) across the four quarters of play.
The Thunder defense took over early and refused to let go — limiting the Pistons to 17-of-49 (34.7 percent) shooting in the first two quarters. However, the Thunder did very little with the elite effort on that side of the ball. Russell Westbrook and Paul George shot a combined 5-of-17 in the first half — with Westbrook committing five ugly turnovers in the process. Steven Adams scored 14 points, Jerami Grant added 10, but the Thunder led just 50-40 at the break. Blake Griffin kept the Pistons hanging around with 15.
Everything came together for Billy Donovan’s squad after halftime, as the Thunder blitzed the Pistons on both sides of the ball to open the third quarter. Westbrook and Adams began attacking with the pick-n-roll, finally getting the Thunder offense into some form of rhythm. The trio of Westbrook, George, and Adams then torched the Pistons’ defense for 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting in the third, blowing the game wide open en route to a Thunder lead that reached 35. OKC outscored Detroit 37-19 in the quarter and held a commanding 87-59 advantage headed into the fourth.
With the game well in hand, Donovan turned to his bench in the final frame and gave his starters the rest of the night off. Six Thunder players would end up scoring in double-figures, including Adams (21), Westbrook (18), George (17), Grant (15), Schroder (12), and Noel (12). Griffin led Detroit with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting. Andre Drummond added 13 points but was able to gather just six rebounds — 10 less than his NBA-leading season average.
Steven Adams: 21 pts, 6 reb, 2 blk, 7/8 FG, 7/7 FG, +21
Big Kiwi. Steven Adams was elite against Detroit, plain and simple. The 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting is certainly noteworthy, but the most impressive aspect of Adams’ night was the work he did on Andre Drummond. The Pistons’ big man was essentially a non-factor, scoring 13 points on 6-of-17 shooting and grabbing a season-low six rebounds. Adams continues to come out ahead in his matchups with the NBA’s elite big men, which has to mean he absolutely is one.
Starting Five/Rotation. Terrance Ferguson returned from a four-game absence (ankle) and re-entered the Thunder’s starting lineup. He finished with two points and a career-high four assists in 27 minutes. Alex Abrines, who was coming off a season-high 21 points, came off the bench and contributed two points in 18 minutes. Fan favorite Deonte Burton had his minutes cut dramatically before seeing run in garbage time. Hamidou Diallo (ankle) was available but did not play.
Grant. Jerami Grant finished with 15 points — 10 of which came in the first half. He shot 5-of-6 from the field and hit 2-of-3 from long distance. Grant was significant in the Thunder taking a 10-point lead into the halftime break — so here’s me recognizing that.
Russ & PG. Fairly forgettable evenings for the Thunder’s star duo. Westbrook was errant on a number of passes in the first half and looked like he was in store for one of those nights. George had five points before halftime while dealing with struggles of his own. However, they combined to score 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the game-changing third quarter. All is forgiven in a blowout win — but they have some items to clean up.
The Third Quarter. In what might just be the most bizarre Twilight Zone episode yet, the Thunder has suddenly become a solid third quarter team — illustrated again in tonight’s game-changing 12 minutes of play. OKC finally took advantage of their defensive effort, turning it into a clinching 25-5 run to open the half. In total, the Thunder scored 37 points, outscored Detroit by 18, and held the Pistons to 35 percent shooting. Stretches of play like that are fleeting — but it’s really encouraging to see the team firing on all cylinders.
Steven Adams on the win: