Thunder 99 – Celtics 96 | Rapid Recap

Despite trailing by as many as 13 points in the third quarter and 8 points with under 6 minutes to play in the game, Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to yet another come from behind victory to defeat the visiting Boston Celtics 99-96. Westbrook’s 7-game triple-double streak was broken, but when asked about it immediately after the final buzzer sounded, he commented saying, “I don’t care about that streak…I’m just happy we won.” Thunder fans agree with you, Russ.

Thunder Prove to be Clutch Yet Again

The NBA uses the term “clutch” to mean a game in which the point differential between the two teams is five points or fewer with under five minutes left in the game. So far this season, the Thunder has played in 16 games that meet this criteria, winning 10 of them, including tonight.

A big reason that the Thunder is so clutch is due to Russell Westbrook. It should come as no surprise that Russ is tied for first in the NBA in scoring in the clutch averaging 6.4 points, but he is also ninth in the league in rebounding in the clutch with 1.6 rebounds, and fifteenth in assists in the clutch with .8 assists. Tonight in the clutch, Westbrook had 8 points on 3/5 shooting from the field and 1/2 from the free throw line, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist. More importantly, he continues to make clutch plays that will not always show up on a stat sheet.

First he did this:

Then he won a jump ball that led to this:

Needless to say, the Thunder has rapidly gone from one of the worst teams in the NBA when it came to giving up 4th quarter leads to one of the most clutch teams in the league by finishing games strong and erasing deficits to win ball games. It is a lot easier to do these types of things when you have the favorite for the league MVP on your team leading the way as opposed to someone who simply does not have the guts to do what it takes to win tough games.

Second Effort Makes the Difference

Entering tonight, Oklahoma City ranked first in the NBA in points in the paint with 50.3 per game and 10th in 2nd-chance points with 13.8 per game. Coming into the game, Boston was ranked 26th in the NBA in giving up 2nd-chance points averaging 14.6 per game. This was an area that Oklahoma City needed to exploit to be successful, and they did exactly that.

The Thunder scored an incredible 66 points in the paint, and they pulled down 15 offensive rebounds which lead to 14 2nd-chance points. By exploiting the Boston in the paint, Oklahoma City was able to pound away at the smaller Celtic lineup which fueled the Thunder to victory.

Oladipo Takes a Tumble

Midway through the second quarter, Victor Oladipo rushed out to the perimeter in an attempt to stop Celtic PF Jonas Jerebko from shooting a wide-open three. Jerebko pump faked, Oladipo took flight, and Jerebko moved towards the basket making contact with Oladipo’s foot causing Oladipo to fall awkwardly.

After the fall, Oladipo was on the ground for several minutes before he was finally able to stand up and walk to the locker room under his own strength. At the beginning of the third quarter, it was reported that he had a sprained right wrist and would not return to the game. Shortly after the conclusion of the game, it was reported that he passed all other tests for more extensive potential injuries.

Road Back-to-Back Begins Tuesday

Tuesday, Oklahoma City will play the first game of a back-to-back on the road in Portland against the Trail Blazers. Grab a cup of coffee because the Thunder will tip-off at 9:30 PM. The game will be televised on FSOK and ESPN, and it will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.

Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram. 


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