Coming off a nice win on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City came in to tonight’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks hoping to continue their success and string some wins together. The Thunder started off the game very sloppily, specifically Russell Westbrook, who shot 1/6 from the field. As a team, Oklahoma City shot 5/17 from the floor, and after a quarter, the Thunder trailed the Mavericks 18-20.
Oklahoma City struggled in the first couple of minutes of the second quarter, but then the Thunder second unit started knocking down shots. Josh Huestis scored six points shooting 2/3 from three, Patrick Patterson scored seven points as he shot 3/3 from the floor, including 1/1 from three, and Raymond Felton added in four points to give the Thunder 17 points off the bench. Jerami Grant also added 6 points in the quarter, including a crazy, off-kilter shot.
Despite turning over the ball 12 times, the Thunder finished the second quarter strong as Oklahoma City led Dallas 44-42 at the half.
The Thunder came out in the third quarter looking flat like they had for much of the first half, but after some back-and-forth with the Mavericks, Oklahoma City turned on the jets. With 7:05 left in the third, the Thunder led 58-54. They outscored the Mavs 25-13 in the final 7 minutes of the quarter, led by Russell Westbrook and Paul George, who scored 16 points apiece in the period. As a team, Oklahoma City scored 39 points in the quarter, a season high, and the Thunder would lead 82-63 with one quarter to go.
Paul George continued his hot shooting in the fourth quarter, racking up 13 more points on 5/7 shooting from the floor, including 3/4 from three, and despite the Mavericks giving it their best effort to come back, the Thunder defense was just too much. Oklahoma City managed to snag four steals in the fourth quarter alone on their way to a 112-99 win at home.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Team Ball Spells Victory: Seven times this season, including tonight, the Thunder has put up 21+ assists, and six of those games have ended in victory. When Oklahoma City is capable of moving the ball and taking quality shots, they are dangerous on offense. They had their best game of the season from three, shooting 15/32 (46.9%). Paul George led the way by knocking down 7/12 (58.3%), which ties a Thunder record for most threes made in a single game. Perhaps the most important facet of the 21 Thunder assists is the fact that Russell Westbrook only had five of them. George added in five, and Raymond Felton had five off the bench. The numbers speak for themselves: sharing the ball leads to winning games.
- Paul George Has Arrived: For the first eleven games of the season, Paul George looked very little like the player that Thunder fans were so excited about getting back in June. His shooting was inconsistent, the ball seemed to stop moving whenever he touched it, and the only real positive side of his game was his defense. That all seemed to change on Friday night against the Clippers as he put up a season-high 42 points, and he continued with that aggressive mentality tonight. In 42 minutes tonight, George scored 37 points by shooting 12/22 (54.5%) from the floor, including 7/12 (58.3%), while also grabbing eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals. It would be unfair to expect this type of production out of George every single night, but if he can keep up the consistent shot production, specifically from three, then Russell Westbrook won’t have to worry about shouldering the offensive load by himself.
- The Bench is Gaining Steam: For the third game in a row, the Oklahoma City bench scored at least 27 points, racking up 30 tonight. Across the league, that’s not all that impressive, but for the Thunder, who came into tonight’s game averaging 25.4 per game, it is some welcome improvement. Everybody knew that by the time Westbrook, George, and Carmelo Anthony were done getting their points, there would not be very many left to go around, but it is a good sign that on a night where both Melo and Steven Adams were out with injuries, other guys were able to step up and assist in getting the win. While the bench will not always be needed to win games, there will be plenty of times where their production will be key to victory, so seeing them continue to improve this early in the season is a good sign.
Oklahoma City will play the third of three consecutive home games on Wednesday as the Thunder hosts the Chicago Bulls. The Thunder dominated the Bulls 101-69 in their matchup in Chicago a few weeks ago, and the Bulls have not fared very well ever since. Tip-off is at 7 PM CT, and the game will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM the Sports Animal.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.