Thunder Tops Sixers on Big Night from Russell Westbrook & Paul George
The Oklahoma City Thunder entered tonight’s game having won seven straight, but had every excuse for a less-than-stellar effort against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the second night of a back-to-back, the third game in four days, and the team was about 24 hours removed from losing Andre Roberson to a devastating, season-ending injury. Had the Thunder come out and struggled against the upstart Sixers, no one could have blamed them.
Instead, the Thunder used monster performances from Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams to take a contentious 122-112 victory over Philadelphia in front of a passionate crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Westbrook led the way with 37 points, 14 assists and 9 rebounds, George contributed 31 points of his own, and Adams recorded his 17th double-double of the season. Five Thunder players reached double-figures in scoring, which was enough to overcome solid games from both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
The win pushes the Thunder record to 30-20 on the season and moves the winning streak to eight-games. The team will now head back out on the road to take on the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.
Let’s get into some notes on the win.
48.9: The Thunder shot 48.9 percent from the floor — a nice night. However, Philadelphia hit on a 50 percent clip. Philly also went 11/29 (37.9 percent) from deep, compared to 10/33 (30.3 percent) for OKC.
73.3: In a game that was filled with fouls on both sides, the Thunder hit 22/30 of its free throws — good for 73.3 percent. Philadelphia went 25/31 for 80.6 percent.
41-40: The Thunder out-rebounded the Sixers 41-40, a nice feat considering Philly came in as the best rebounding team in the league. OKC won 17-12 on the offensive glass, 10 (TEN!) of which belonged to Steven Adams.
11: Pretty clean game for OKC, turning the ball over just 11 times. The Thunder defense forced 17 Philly turnovers and turned them into 25 points.
62-44: The Thunder won the battle in the paint by a final tally of 62-44.
21: The Thunder used 21 different lineups tonight. Tinkering Billy is back in full force in the wake of Andre Roberson’s injury.
9 & 5: There were nine ties and five lead changes.
The Big Three
No disrespect to Carmelo Anthony, but Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams are the three most important players on the Thunder roster. They enjoyed a successful evening against the Sixers.
Their final lines:
Westbrook: 37 pts, 14 ast, 9 reb, 2 stl, 14/33 FG, +22
Westbrook couldn’t have started much worse from a shooting perspective, going 6/20 in the first half for 14 points. He returned to shoot 8/13 after halftime — 4/7 in the fourth quarter — propelling the Thunder to victory. As always, he was the emotional bedrock of the team, using a budding rivalry with Joel Embiid to spark some great stuff all game. He was quite angry for all 48 minutes.
Paul George: 31 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 9/17 FG, +15
On the flip side, Paul George started hot, scoring 17 points on 5/11 shooting in the first half. He then scored 14 points in the second half on an efficient 5/7 clip. He packed the stat sheet with four rebounds, assists and steals — providing the defensive effort fans have come to enjoy. If there’s any critique, it’s that he should probably shoot more than seven times in the second half of a close game. Particularly when he hits five of those.
Adams: 20 pts, 13 reb, 10 Oreb, 10/11 FG, +10
Steven Adams was an absolute monster in his match-up with Joel Embiid, using TEN offensive rebounds to bolster a stat line that gave him his 17th double-double of the season. For context, he had 16 all of last season.
Life After Andre
Billy Donovan said before the game that the Thunder will be fluid with its approach to shooting guard, perhaps even using a rotating group of players in the starting lineup. Terrance Ferguson got the nod against Philly but did not enjoy a good game.
Ferguson logged 23 minutes, Jerami Grant saw 22, Josh Huestis played 19, and Alex Abrines got….three. Patrick Patterson logged 12 minutes off the Thunder bench but lost a chunk of time after getting a bloody nose from a Joel Embiid headbutt.
Ferguson: 0 pts, 5 reb, 0/1 FG, -10
Grant: 11 pts, 2 reb, 3/7 FG, +7
Huestis: 2 pts, 3 reb, 2 blk, +5
Interestingly, it was Grant who closed out crunch time with the starters, as Donovan used a Westbrook-George-Melo-Grant-Adams lineup down the stretch. After the game, Billy D. said, “We’re going to have to look at putting Jerami or Pat at the 4 and sliding Carmelo to the 3.” Right now, it seems like Grant is on an upswing.
Paul George opened scoring for the Thunder with this fancy finish around Joel Embiid:
Embiid went up and dunked over Russell Westbrook in the first quarter. Looked like a charge — wasn’t called — so of course he had some words for Russ on his way back down:
Scorned Russ unleashed a furious jam of his own near halftime:
Russ gets a two-handed jam in the fourth quarter. Looks back at the Philly bench with a menacing look on his face:
Melo. Carmelo Anthony had a quiet 16 points on 6/16 shooting. He was a +9 in 31 minutes.
Dakari Johnson. Steven Adams found himself in foul trouble in the first half, being replaced in the second quarter by Patrick Patterson. Patterson was then bloodied by Embiid’s headbutt, leading to Dakari Johnson logging six minutes. He had two rebounds, a steal, and didn’t back down from the All-Star, Embiid. OKC has a need at backup center but he’s functional when needed.
The Other Guys. Joel Embiid had 27 points and 10 rebounds, as Ben Simmons put up 22 points and 7 assists. The two combined for 49 points on 20/30 shooting, but didn’t quite get enough out of everyone else. Dario Saric scored 16 points, Robert Covington had 11, and TJ McConnel had 10.
Officiating. Really rough game for the officials. There were 51 total foul calls (26 PHI, 25 OKC) and one technical on both sides. The technical for OKC belonged to Westbrook, his 10th of the season — inching him closer to the 16 needed for a one-game suspension. Cool the jets, Brodie.
NSFW: Steven Adams was asked after the game how it felt to be without Andre Roberson. Via Royce Young.