Thunder take down the BoogieBrows, 118-110: 14 thoughts
1) So let’s get the Westbrook stuff out of the way first. This guy. His 29th triple-double of the season, and fourth of the 40-point variety. He finished with 41-11-11 (or forty one elem elem, as someone on Twitter put it), and to punctuate it, he scored a career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.
2) I think the summary of this one is pretty simple: Anthony Davis had 24 in the first quarter, Russell Westbrook had 21 in the fourth quarter.
3) One thing, though: The Thunder’s defense on Davis steadily improved. I thought Taj Gibson’s was especially important, because it took Davis out of a ridiculous early rhythm. Then it was Adams, some Jerami Grant, more Gibson and finally Adams. Davis is such a monster, and there’s no great way to guard him, but just trying to make him take jumpers over physical defenders is probably the best way to do it. And OKC had a bunch of guys to throw at him.
4) A big part of this game was foul trouble. It starts with Cousins, then Davis got into some, then Cousins again. The biggest play of the night was Westbrook’s poster of Cousins in the closing minutes, that fouled him out with 2:38 left. That was important.
5) The whole game was horribly officiated. Let’s just get that out of the way.
6) It took 32 seconds for Steven Adams and DeMarcus Cousins to pick up a double tech. And that set quite a tone, as seven were called total for the game — four on the Pels, three on OKC.
7) The Pelicans don’t have a great idea on how to play as a team quite yet. Davis had 24 in the first, Cousins had zero. Then Cousins had 19 in the second, Davis had zero. Davis had 38, Cousins had 31. The next leading scorer had 10.
8) Donovan went with Taj Gibson first off the bench early in the third for some extended minutes. My theory: It was to give him a good look at Gibson with the starters. Sabonis only played eight minutes tonight, and while I think Sabonis will remain part of the rotation, it’s just time to make that change.
9) It’s pretty clear the Thunder don’t have a great idea of how to use McDermott yet. He moves really well without the ball, but everything is basically just pindowns and baseline cuts. That’ll come, but for now, McDermott hasn’t found a fit.
10) Alex Abrines is quite good. I’ve spent three years hearing about great Abrines is, and he’s really starting to show some of it. He’s more than just a standstill 3 guy, and I think his defense is improving more and more. The question is quickly coming on: Should he start? It makes a lot of sense in terms of, as Presti likes to say, maximizing the roster. To get the best of Abrines, he needs to play with Westbrook rather than as a spot-up guy for kickouts after a double comes on Kanter in the second unit. Oladipo has been really solid, but maybe him anchoring the second unit makes some sense.
11) Kanter is back to business. He was very out of sync on Friday, but settled in tonight: 20 points in 6-9 shooting plus 9 rebounds.
12) Andre Roberson post break, or really, post trade deadline: 12-13 shooting, 4-4 from 3. He’s playing in such a smart rhythm, making good cuts and taking good 3s. That’s been a focus for Donovan and the staff the last month: Quit standing on the wing and just ripping 3s. Move, cut, use your talent and athleticism. If you keep doing the offensive thing you’re bad at, you’re going to be bad at offense. Do the things that help, and it all fits together in a much better way.
13) Semaj Christon is a nice defender, but he is not a very good NBA point guard. I think something is going to give here soon.
14) Russ good. The end.
Next up: Home against the Jazz