The Thunder earned a solid 106-105 win on the road this afternoon against the Denver Nuggets. It didn’t come easy for Oklahoma City, as Denver was battling for a playoff spot. The first quarter went back and forth for a majority of the time. After some stops on the defensive end, which transitioned to points on the other side of the ball, the Thunder held a one point lead. The Thunder allowed the Nuggets to pull away a bit in the second quarter, but quickly got things back together and finished the half strong. Even though they battled back into the game, it was not enough to put them ahead. The Thunder trailed 53-52 at halftime.
If you’ve watched even just a handful of games this year, you know that the Thunder struggle in the third quarter. For whatever reason, Oklahoma City seems to allow the game to slip away from them during the beginning of the second half. This afternoon was no different. Due to poor offensive possessions and a barrage of three point shots from Denver, the team trailed by as many as 13 points in the third quarter.
When the fourth quarter started, the Thunder had a quite a bit of work to do. They trailed by 12, had the starters on the bench, and had some defensive guys in foul trouble. Oklahoma City didn’t do much until the final four minutes, but that is where the magic happened. The team trailed by 10 points with 2:58 to go. The Thunder made the best of their final possessions on offense and played excellent defense on the other end of the floor. With 3 seconds to go, Westbrook nailed a deep three point shot that gave the Thunder the win.
Bench Has A Big Game
The Thunder’s bench didn’t produce a lot of points, or carry this team to the win this afternoon. However, they did do exactly what the team needed them to do. While the bench only combined for 28 points, they put the Thunder in a position to win the game. They never took control of the game for the team, but they did their part and allowed the team to hang around until the starters could get their rest. Semaj Christon made only one basket the entire afternoon, but his corner three came at the perfect time to allow the thunder to go on a run.
Enes Kanter did his part with 15 points and 8 rebounds. These numbers are pretty common for the Thunder big man, who is undoubtedly the anchor of the second unit. Kanter continues to show his value as the teams sixth man. Joining Kanter today was an unexpected performance from Kyle Singler. Singler received significant minutes for perhaps the first time this season, due to some injuries on the team. He did more than what was expected from him, shooting 50% from the field and recording 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Clutch In Crunch Time
What was over looked in the buzzer beater win this afternoon was the clutch performance of the team down the stretch. When you’re down by 10 with less than three minutes left, you don’t have possessions to waste. Billy Donovan drew up the perfect plays and defensive schemes to put the team in a position to win. Once the defensive stops were completed, and the plays were drawn up, all that was left was execution. The team executed perfectly which allowed Russ to be able to take that game winning shot.
Westbrook Sets Himself Apart
Russell Westbrook has officially set the record for the most triple-doubles in a single season. His 50 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists give him a total of 42 triple-doubles for the season. There are simply no words to describe this accomplishment. I feel like I have ran out of things to say about the guy at this point. The most important thing about his performance is the team coming out on top with a win. One would think that after this game Westbrook has the MVP locked up. Getting personal achievements is one thing, but leading your team to victory is another.
The Thunder Guys certainly think Russ is the MVP, what do you think?
Final Road Game
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be back in action again on Tuesday night as they travel to play the Timberwolves in Minnesota. This will be the end of the current road trip for the team, but also the final game on the road. The Thunder lead the season series 2-1 at the moment. This will be a good final road test for Oklahoma City as they head into the playoffs. The game will start at 7:00 PM CST, and will be televised on FSOK. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.