In case you didn’t stay up late, the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Los Angeles Lakers, 112-107. The OKC bench was critical in keeping the game close, with Dennis Schroder scoring 31 and Nerlens Noel adding 15. On the second night of a back-to-back, the new-look Thunder again held their own against one of the NBA’s elite teams, battling back from every deficit to keep the game close. I gotta say, the Thunder are the best 5-9 team in the league, maybe in the history of the world.
If Chris Paul is not on your team, his propensity to draw easy fouls may irk you. But Chris Paul is on my team, so, I’m here to applaud his veteran savvy:
In the waning moments of the game, the officials tagged Danilo Gallinari for traveling. Slight problem, though, Gallinari didn’t travel.
Way back on October 28, 2019, OKC held Russell Westbrook to just 9 assists, one shy from a triple double–which would have made Westbrook the first in NBA history to record a triple double against every NBA team. Ironically, the Thunder allowed LeBron James to notch a triple double last night–which gave James a triple double against every NBA team. Ooof.
The latest ESPN NBA power rankings has the Thunder at No. 17: “He started slowly, but Chris Paul has quietly put together a couple of weeks of very good basketball. His game Friday against the 76ers was vintage Point God stuff, with him running the game down the stretch, mastering the midrange, finding open shooters for daggers and competing in mismatches on the defensive end. The Thunder are plus-3.3 points per 100 possessions with Paul on the floor and minus-5.3 with him off. Assists are at a career low, but that’s more an indication of Paul’s buy-in to give Shai Gilgeous-Alexander room to breathe than anything else.”
NBA.com’s power rankings puts the Thunder at No. 16: “Only the Grizzlies have been worse in the third quarter than the Thunder, who have been outscored by 20.7 points per 100 possessions in the first 12 minutes after halftime and were outscored 112-68 in the third over a three-game stretch prior to Friday. They allowed another 34 points in the third that night, but were able to recover by shooting 11-for-16 from the field and 17-for-17 from the line as they outscored the Sixers, 42-25, over the final 12:06 of their overtime win. After going 0-4 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes in October, the Thunder are 4-1 in clutch games in November, having shot 7-for-11 from 3-point range with the score within five in the last five this month. They’ve scored 26.0 more points per 100 possessions with Danilo Gallinari on the floor (113.3) than they have with him off the floor (87.3), in part because they haven’t staggered his minutes with those of their starting guards that much. After getting hammered by the Pacers on Tuesday, they’re 0-4 on the road, where they’ll play nine of their next 13 games, starting with games at Staples Center on Monday and Tuesday.”
Bill Simmons talked about the 2012 Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Thunder on his Book of Basketball show. I can only imagine that Simmons was an OKC stan throughout:
Andy Bailey (Bleacher Reports) lists one player every team should target–and the Thunder’s target is Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trailblazers. “In combination with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC would have one of the game’s most enticing young backcourts. Two combo guards who can do a little bit of everything on offense and have the length to work defensively is a switch-heavy scheme.”
A beautiful story about Chris Paul’s memories of his grandfather, from The Big Lead. “The memory of of his grandfather still lives on through Paul’s basketball shoes. Every single one of them has a Chevron logo on them. Sometimes it’s hidden. Sometimes it’s in plain sight. Wherever it is, it’s always with Paul.”
Who’s buying Russell Westbrook’s house in Edmond? Maybe all the DTers can pool together some funds.
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