After their worst loss of the season on Thursday which came at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City came back with a vengeance at home and put on a New Year’s Eve show for Thunder fans defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 114-88. The Thunder started the game off trailing the Clippers 0-3, but they quickly took a 4-3 lead and never looked back.
Team Ball Wins the Day
Oklahoma City had perhaps its best all-around game tonight as eight different players scored at least eight points, five of which finished in double digits. Enes Kanter led all scorers with 23 points on 6/13 shooting from the field and 11/12 from the free throw line to go with 8 rebounds. Russell Westbrook had his 16th triple-double of the season by halftime, and he finished with 11 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. To go along with his impressive game, Russ had only one turnover after having 6 in the first quarter against Memphis on Thursday.
Victor Oladipo finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds after missing 9 games with a sprained wrist, and Steven Adams had 11 points and 5 rebounds. Another bright spot from the bench was sharpshooter Alex Abrines who had 12 points on 4/5 shooting from beyond the arc, including a deep shot at the buzzer before half (below).
Unfortunately, Abrines took a tumble in the second half, and he did not return. He was being checked out for concussion-like symptoms, but Billy Donovan said in the post game press conference that it did not appear to be a concussion, but that it would be further investigated tomorrow morning. He did post this after the game:
Defense Leads to Offense
Los Angeles entered the game at 5th in the league in scoring, but with Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Wesley Johnson all out with injury, the Oklahoma City defense suffocated the Clippers. The Thunder held the Clippers to 11 points in the first quarter, a season-low for a Thunder opponent in the first quarter. Oklahoma City also forced the Clippers into 17 turnovers.
Oklahoma City’s defense was so intense that it enabled the Thunder to get out and run in transition. The Thunder finished the game with 33 fastbreak points. Meanwhile, the Clippers had 0 points in transition. While the game almost certainly would have gone differently had the Clippers been at full strength, this was a solid defensive effort by the Thunder, and hopefully it can translate into future success.
Welcome Back, Victor Oladipo
After missing 9 games due to a sprained right wrist, Victor Oladipo made his return to the court and started the game for the Thunder. He came out looking like he had not missed a beat as he put up 15 points on 4/9 shooting, including 2/5 from three, and he grabbed four rebounds and dished out 2 assists. With Oladipo back on the floor, the Thunder’s offense opens up so much more and forces opponents to respect outside shooting which was missing at times during his absence. Above all, Thunder fans are glad to see Victor healthy and back on the court with his teammates.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.