The Thunder won their second game in a row 114-105 against the New Orleans Pelicans. The win tonight puts them at 3-3 during the six game road trip. Steven Adams said, “It is what is” when Lesley McCaslin asked about the teams performance during the road stint. While it certainly would’ve been nice to win all of the games, being at .500 after a tough stretch of games isn’t bad at all.
Oklahoma City started off the game hot, and didn’t cool down for the entire first half. After going back and forth for awhile with the Pelicans, the Thunder started dominating on defense which led to opportunities on offense. After outscoring the Pelicans in the first and second quarter, the Pelicans managed to outscore the Thunder in both the third and fourth quarter, which led to a late comeback. The Thunder seemed to be doing everything they could do to let the Pelicans win by turning the ball over and giving up easy baskets. Ultimately, Oklahoma City closed out the game with a few scores and some stops on defense.
OKC Dominates the Paint
The Thunder’s success tonight was largely do to the inability of the Pelicans to defend Oklahoma City’s big men in the paint. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter combined for 37 points, and 22 rebounds. Adams found himself scoring wide open looks right under the basket, as well as dominating the boards on both ends of the court. Kanter was at his best when he took the defender one on one to the rim. Both men had outstanding nights, and Enes Kanter this monster poster!
Second Half Struggles
Oklahoma City dominated on both ends of the court throughout the entire first half, and never let the Pelicans have a glimpse of hope. However, all of that changed in the middle of the third quarter, when the Thunder started cruising through the game instead of attacking on offense and defending the perimeter on defense. This has started to become a common thing when the Thunder develop a big lead early. The team has got to do a better job at keeping the same attack first mentality throughout the entire game, no matter what the score is.
23rd Triple-Double for Russ
Russell Westbrook recorded his third straight triple-double, and his sixth in the last seven games. He finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. The 23 triple-doubles puts him at #5 on the all-time list, which is pretty impressive for a guy who still has a long career ahead of him.
During the course of the road trip Russ lost a bit of momentum on the MVP race to the only other close contender James Harden, and rightfully so. However, Westbrook quickly bounced back on top of the MVP leaderboard with his performance in the clutch on this road trip. Closing out games in the fourth quarter (including a game winning shot against the best defense in the NBA) and recording triple-doubles on the road will do a lot for an MVP campaign.
The Thunder will finally be back home after a six game road trip to play in the Peake tomorrow night against the Dallas Mavericks at 7:00 PM CST. Oklahoma City won all four games against Dallas last season, but the two teams haven’t met this year. The game will be televised on TNT and broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.