In their third game in 5 days, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up another win at home, this time against the Utah Jazz, to extend their streak to 4. The Thunder started off the game shooting lights out from deep as they made their first 12 attempts from beyond the arc, a Thunder organization record and the most consecutive threes in the league since the 2002-03 NBA season. Oklahoma City went into the locker room at halftime with a 61-53 lead, and then extended it to 13 at one point in the 3rd before finishing the quarter up 86-75.
Utah would not give up, however, as they battled back to take a 1-point lead with 2:47 left in the game. The Jazz would push their advantage to 4 points with 48 seconds left before Russell Westbrook came up clutch yet again as he hit a three, followed by a layup and a free throw to retake the lead for the Thunder. The defense would hold for what seemed to be the final defensive possession of the game for Oklahoma City as Jerami Grant stole the ball, was fouled, and knocked down a free throw. Grant missed the second shot, and the ball went out of bounds on the Thunder, giving the Jazz possession with 1.1 seconds to play. But, Oklahoma City played solid defense, and Gordon Hayward could not get a good look as the Thunder pulled out the win 109-106.
Westbrook Comes Up Clutch Yet Again
For the second game in a row, Russell Westbrook played his best basketball of the game at just the right time. Ironically enough, it came shortly after his worst play of the night. With 8:50 to go in the game and the Thunder holding a 94-81 lead, Westbrook checked in for what should have been some easy mop up duty to wrap up another win at home. Instead, the Jazz ran off 6 straight points while Russ missed 4 consecutive shots before he finally made one to push the Thunder lead back to 9.
The Jazz then went on a 12-0 run as Westbrook missed 3 more shots and turned the ball over once before he finally hit another shot to cut Utah’s lead to 1. The Jazz would continue to score, but Westbrook did not miss a shot for the rest of the game as he scored 11 of the Thunder’s final 13 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 109-106 win over Utah.
Westbrook finished the night with 43 points while shooting 13/28 (46.4%) from the floor, 6/9 (66.7%) from three, and 11/12 (91.7%) from the free throw line, to go along with 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Tonight’s effort marked his 30th triple-double of the season, and his 5th in which he scored 40+ points.
Role Players Step Up
A big reason for the Thunder’s success tonight, specifically in shooting so accurately from the three, was the ability for guys not named Russell Westbrook to step into their contributing roles and knock down shots when given the chance. Alex Abrines started his third consecutive game due to Victor Oladipo being out with injury, and he once again took advantage of the opportunity as he scored 11 points while shooting 4/4 from the field, including 3/3 from beyond the arc.
Oklahoma City newcomer Doug “Dougie McBuckets” McDermott had his best game since joining the Thunder just 5 days ago as he scored 16 points while shooting 6/11 (54.5%) from the floor, including 4/6 (66.7%) from three. Not only was McDermott impressive from downtown, but he had a couple of impressive drives to the basket that showed he is more than just a long-range shooter.
To add to the mix, Enes Kanter came off the bench and contributed in a way that Thunder fans have come to expect basically every single game from him. Kanter finished with 15 points while shooting 7/12 (58.3%) from the field while pulling down 9 rebounds. Despite missing 10 games, Kanter does not seem like he has needed much time at all to get right back into the flow of things.
Thunder Head to Portland
Oklahoma City takes their 4-game win streak on the road where they will play the Blazers on Thursday. This is the third matchup of the season between these two teams. The Blazers won the first matchup in Portland back in December, while the Thunder picked up the win in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago. The Blazers are currently 24-34 and are chasing a playoff spot, but they went 2-6 in February and have lost 4 of their last 5 at home. Tip-off is set for 9:30 PM, and the game will be televised on TNT and FSOK. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.