Despite yet another slow start and another double-digit deficit in the first quarter, Oklahoma City roared back to another clutch win tonight in Boston. The Thunder took the lead right before halftime, and for the most part, held on to it throughout the game. Boston regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter, going up by as many as 4 with 3:37 left to play, but Russell Westbrook and company would have none of that. The Thunder played lockdown defense, and Westbrook went on a scoring tear to retake the lead at the 2:50 mark and hold on until the final buzzer sounded.
Russ is Clutch
Oklahoma City trailed by four points with just a few minutes in the game; enter Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has proved time and time again throughout this season that he is the closer that the Thunder has needed, and he did it yet again tonight. In the final 3:55 of the game, Westbrook scored 16 points, including back-to-back threes to turn a 3-point lead into a 9-point lead.
Russell Westbrook finished the night with 45 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, earning him his 14th triple-double of the season. This was also the third game in a row that he scored 40+ points. These types of performances are becoming more and more typical for Westbrook, and if he keeps this up, he will be a shoe-in for league MVP.
Sabonis Has Career Night
Domantas Sabonis had the best game of his rookie season putting up 20 points on 8/11 shooting from the field and 4/6 from three in 24 minutes. Sabonis started the game off 7/7 from the field including 3/3 from three before he missed a shot. Domas has proven to be a solid three-point shooter at times this season, but his footwork in the paint is extremely underrated. He had several plays this evening where he found great success down low. Sabonis has continued to improve, and while he still has a long way to go as a rookie, he has grown by leaps and bounds in the first 30 games of the regular season.
Bench Has Solid Night For Second Consecutive Game
For the second game in a row, the Thunder bench had a big game. Unlike two nights ago in Atlanta, the second unit for Oklahoma City did not have an overall incredible scoring output, but they impacted the game in a number of ways.
Enes Kanter was the only bench player to contribute in a major way in terms of scoring by putting up 20 points on 8/13 shooting from the field and 4/6 from the free throw line. He also managed to grab 6 rebounds. Aside from Kanter, however, no other bench player had more than 4 points, but several guys impacted the game in other ways.
Jerami Grant had 4 points and 2 rebounds, which is not all that impressive, but his last two points came at a crucial point in the game. The dunk that Grant threw down hushed the Boston crowd and sparked a 10-0 Thunder run which gave Oklahoma City the lead for good. Grant also had 3 blocks, including the one below.
Merry Christmas, Oklahoma City!
Oklahoma City comes back to the Peake on Sunday to host the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second time this season in a Christmas Day matchup. The Thunder defeated the Timberwolves 112-92 in that game early in the season. Minnesota has a 9-20 record and has struggled throughout the season, but the Timberwolves have won 3 of their last 5. Tip-off is set for 7 PM CST and will be televised on FSOK and ESPN. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.