The Oklahoma City Thunder entered tonight losers of two straight, and facing an Indiana Pacers team that lit up Minnesota for 130 points just a night ago. With so many moving parts yet to find their role, there has been much discussion about tempering immediate expectations. However, the Thunder used physicality to set the tone, and rode a healthy dose of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to a 114-96 victory.
Westbrook notched his second triple-double of the season, Anthony and Steven Adams both added double-doubles, and Oklahoma City escaped a blistering performance from Victor Oladipo. The Thunder now moves to 2-2 and will prepare for a rematch with the Timberwolves on Friday night.
Let’s get into some notes.
Paul George’s strange night
The game was billed as Paul George facing his former team for the first time, but the contest didn’t end up featuring much of the four-time All-Star. George finished with 10 points on 4/8 shooting, but fouled out after logging just 19 minutes. Not likely the type of game he envisioned, as he was the only starter to finish with a negative plus-minus (-2).
He will get his next opportunity against the Pacers on December 13 in Indiana.
The Russ & Melo Show
With Paul George a non-factor due to foul trouble, the night belonged to Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony from a scoring standpoint. The two combined for 56 points and 20 rebounds on 19/35 shooting, and seemed to have formed an immediate connection with one another. Although the team won’t reach its final form until all three of the OK3 are firing on all cylinders, it was nice to see the two men pick up the slack in George’s absence for most of the night.
Final stat lines:
Westbrook: 28 points, 10 rebounds, 16 assists, 3 steals, 7 turnovers, 10/18 FG, 2/4 3P, +27
Anthony: 28 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 6 turnovers, 9/17 FG, 3/7 3P, +19
Steven Adams & establishing the tone
The Pacers were without big man Myles Turner, which meant Domantas Sabonis drew the start at center. As such, he was completely and utterly overpowered by Steven Adams from the opening tip. It was yet another solid performance by the 24-year-old Kiwi, and his second consecutive double-double.
Adams finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, and routinely caught the ball in position to score due to the lack of size in the Pacer front court. He baited Sabonis into early foul trouble, and manhandled him defensively, holding the former Thunder power forward to 4 points on 1/9 shooting. All of this led to a monstrous win in the paint for the Thunder, 54-28.
Patrick Patterson scored the first bucket of his Thunder career — a corner three off a dish from Russell Westbrook.
Patterson finished with 3 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, logging his season-high in minutes with 17. He also displayed great defensive intelligence, and was able to anchor the Thunder defense while playing at center. It was hardly a blistering performance, but easily his best in a Thunder uniform. Jerami Grant still received eight more minutes of action, but 2Pat is trending in the right direction.
Victor Oladipo was cookin’
Victor Oladipo returned to the ‘Peake looking to burn it down, and finished with a game-high 35 points 11/18 shooting. He hit 5/8 from downtown, 8/8 from the free throw line, and — for one night — made the Paul George trade seem very palatable if you’re a Pacers fan.
Just needed an excuse to post this clip. Incredible ball movement from the Thunder — sign me up for more of this.
- While no one likes the guy complaining about the referees, it was a very oddly officiated game. There were stretches of consistent calls, followed by stretches of mayhem with no whistles. Not saying Paul George didn’t deserve to foul out, but there were some tough breaks.
- Westbrook went 6/10 from the free throw line, and his season average now moves to 61 percent. It’s too early to truly panic, but strange for a guy that shot 84 percent last season and 82 percent for his career.
- Jerami Grant looked alright at times, but there were multiple instances of him doing that thing he does. You know — driving recklessly, getting up in the air, and then somehow ending up flat on his back. He scored 7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, finishing up with +3 and was the first man off the bench… But give me more Patrick Patterson in his place, please.
- Domas Sabonis drew a terrible hand in matching up with Steven Adams, but the guy looked like he was totally unprepared for the moment. I developed a theory last season that he was actually terrified of Russell Westbrook, and that holds up after his disappearance tonight.
- The triple-double was the 81st of Westbrook’s career.
- Josh Huestis saw extended run due to Paul George’s foul trouble. He logged a career-high 26 minutes and pitched in 3 points and 3 rebounds. +12 for the night.
- OKC shot 48 percent, compared to 33 percent for the Pacers.
- The Thunder won on the boards 49-41, and dished out more assists, 26-13.
Carmelo Anthony discusses the game on NBA TV: “I’m glad we went and got this one for PG, even though he was a no show today… he fouled out.”
Paul George on his teammates carrying him/seeing his old team. Via Royce Young.