Well, that was fun.
The Oklahoma City Thunder led wire-to-wire on Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, riding a season-high 46 points from Russell Westbrook to take a 121-112 victory over the Washington Wizards. The win is the Thunder’s sixth in a row — the longest active streak in the NBA — and continues a string of recent play that has OKC’s stock rising.
Despite leading by as many as 19 points in the ball game, the Thunder watched as its lead was carved to single-digits in the second half. Washington, led by Bradley Beal’s 41 points, scored 38 points in the fourth quarter and had the game within a single-possession with a little more than eight minutes to go. Then, right on cue, Westbrook took over.
Westbrook scored 21 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter, shooting 9-of-11 in the final 12 minutes. This, coupled with outstanding defense/all around play from Paul George, was enough to propel the Thunder to victory.
The win moves the Thunder to 28-20 on the season ahead of Saturday’s 4:00 PM CT showdown with the Detroit Pistons. Let’s get into some notes on this win.
51.7: The Thunder shot 51.7 percent from the floor against the Wizards, compared to 48.8 percent for Washington. Neither team had much trouble getting its shots to fall.
16: The Wizards hit 16 three-pointers, the second-consecutive game that the Thunder has given up that amount from long distance. After hitting only three in the first half, Washington hit 13 in the final two quarters to make a game of it.
75.9: The Thunder hit 75.9 percent from the free throw line — 22/29. It’s not a great conversion rate but miles better than recent performances.
40-39: The Thunder won 40-39 on the glass — 13-12 on the offensive boards. Washington was able to keep this close.
16 & 23 & 36: The Thunder had 16 steals on the night and forced 23 total turnovers, leading to 36 points.
60-40: The Thunder won 60-40 in the paint.
Russell Westbrook was superb in his match-up against fellow All-Star, John Wall. The final stat line for the reigning MVP:
Westbrook: 46 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast, 19/29 FG
The scoring effort was a season-best for Westbrook and he really got whatever he wanted — particularly in the fourth quarter. Here are his full highlights:
Six Men in Double-Figures
The Thunder got scoring contribution from all over against Washington. Westbrook led all scorers with 46, but Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Steven Adams, Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant all scored 10+ points for OKC. Here are their individual lines:
George: 18 pts, 4 ast, 4 stl, 6/19 FG, 2/9 3P
Melo: 13 pts, 8 reb, 4/11 FG, 1/3 3P
Adams: 12 pts, 10 reb, 7 OReb, 3 stl, 5/7 FG
Ferguson: 11 pts, 4/8 FG, 3/6 3P
Grant: 10 pts, 2 blk, 3/4 FG
Westbrook cocks-back and uncorks something demented midway through the fourth quarter:
PG13 gets the steal and finds Russ for the easy dunk:
Russ goes baseline and finds Melo for the jam:
PG13’s Defense. The world knows Paul George is an outstanding defender but he put that on display tonight against Washington. He contributed four steals, had his hand in just about everything, and just has a knack for making plays. He, alongside Andre Roberson, is an absolute menace on the perimeter.
The Other Guys. Bradley Beal went absolutely nuts in the fourth quarter, finishing with 41 points on 15/26 shooting. John Wall contributed 20 points and 12 assists. Markieff Morris had 20 points and 9 rebounds. Otto Porter Jr. put up 11 points on an off-night for him.
Late-Game Rotation. Billy Donovan elected to go with Terrance Ferguson instead of Andre Roberson in the game’s final stretch run. Ferguson ended up logging 25 minutes to Roberson’s 23 — a development that’s worth monitoring. The rookie scored 11 points and went 3/6 from downtown — but I’m not entirely comfortable with this. Give me Dre 99 times out of 100 in that scenario.
City Edition. The “City Edition” uniforms got a lot of grief on the Internet but I’ll be the first to say it: I like them. Sue me. I hope the Thunder wears them more often.