The Thunder were back in action tonight for the first time since the All-Star break. Oklahoma City picked up a dominant win 110-93 against the Lakers at home. The team played in front of an energetic crowd, that was not only excited to see their team play after a break, but also excited to watch the new faces on the team. Both the team, and the fans did their part in this key win for OKC tonight.
The Thunder got off to a pretty solid start, as just about everyone on the court was contributing in one way or another. After the first quarter the team lead 29-23, and it only got better from there. Alex Abrines started in place of injured Victor Oladipo, and he held more than his own. Abrines was no doubt MVP of the first half, and was the reason the Thunder led 58-51 at halftime. He played solid throughout the entire game finishing with 19 points on 7-13 shooting.
Not a lot of things went in the way of the Lakers during the second half, as the Thunder really opened up the lead in the third quarter. The Thunder played possibly the best team ball of the season so far. Every starter, besides Sabonis, (who finished with 9 points) was in double-digits. Oklahoma City led by 20+ throughout the remainder of the game except for a late push by the Lakers in the fourth that brought it back to within 10. The Thunder put the starters back in the close it out, and finished the game with ease.
Here is something you’ve now heard 28 times this season, Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double tonight with 17 points, 18 rebounds, and 17 assists. This one, however, was just a bit different. When Russ checked out during his normal rotation time in the first quarter, he had 0 points. He did have 7 rebounds and 5 assists during that time. Westbrook was not able to find his strike shooting tonight, so instead he looked to assists and rebounds to be his contribution to the team. He nearly recorded the triple-double in the first half with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. His ability to have an impact on the game no matter what is the reason he is such an amazing player.
New Faces Fit Right In
In case you’ve been living under a rock since yesterday, the Thunder added Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson to the roster right before the trade deadline. There was quite a bit of speculation on whether or not the pair would play tonight. It was determined shortly before game time that the duo from Chicago would indeed play, and they had an immediate impact.
Taj Gibson finished the game with 12 points and 4 rebounds, and Doug McDermott recorded 8 points and four rebounds. Both guys probably played less minutes than they usually will further down the road. I expect Gibson to eventually take the starting job from Sabonis, and McDermott should see about 20 minutes per game. This game was more or less a feeler for these guys, but it was pretty clear they will have an immediate impact for the Thunder. Gibson provides experience at the power forward position, and McDermott could be the spot up shooter Oklahoma City has been needing all season.
Home Again On Sunday
The Thunder will be at home again on Sunday when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans at 6:00 PM CST. The game will be televised on FSOK and broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. Oklahoma City will have their hands full trying to handle the front court of New Orleans. The Pelicans will be quite the test with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins. It will be interesting to see Steven Adams and Taj Gibson go head to head against Boogie and Anthony Davis.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.