The Oklahoma City Thunder played their second preseason game on Friday night, but the first in front of the home crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Not only did Oklahoma City’s new players get a first glimpse of what their home court atmosphere will be like, Thunder fans got their first glimpse of a new star-studded lineup.
The Thunder sent ripples through the NBA this summer when they acquired Paul George from Indiana, and then sent a tsunami across the league when they sent Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott to New York for Carmelo Anthony.
Friday night marked the first time those two, along with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, took the floor together in an OKC uniform. The verdict was an 11-point win for the Thunder…and added enthusiasm to the potential of the trio.
Making his preseason debut, Westbrook played just ten minutes in which he recorded 9 points, 4 assists, and a rebound. Anthony followed up is 19-point performance, in the preseason opener, with nine points and six assists in 17 minutes of play.
This night, however, belonged to Paul George who played a team-high 27 minutes. His performance yielded 25 points thanks, in part, to earning ten opportunities from the free throw line, of which he converted eight of them.
There’s typically not a whole lot you can take away from a 102-91 preseason win over a conference opponent, but there are a few items of discussion here.
- The plan to ride the hot hand is a good one. I’m not sure if it was in the game plan to play George that many minutes, but clearly he was the hot hand Friday night. Not only did he get ten opportunities from the charity stripe, but he also shot 7/14 from the floor.
- Ball protection needs to be better. Yeah, I get it. We’re only in the second preseason game and there’s a brand new nucleus for this squad. That said, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow 20 total turnovers, especially when 14 of those came from the starting five.
- OKC was strong inside the paint. The combination of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis is going to create problems for opponents as they enter their first full season together. The Thunder went toe-to-toe with them though, limiting them to 27 combined points and 8-of-19 from the floor. OKC also edged out the battle of the boards 46-43.