The Thunder earned a much needed win over the Denver Nuggets tonight. The win was not only key to the Thunder getting back to .500, but is was also an important win over a divisional opponent. Oklahoma City got off to perhaps their best start of the year, but quickly faded in the second and third quarter. However, unlike similar situations throughout the season, the Thunder were able to bounce back and come out on top.
Oklahoma City once again got going early on. The offense was moving at a tempo that we haven’t seen all season. The ball movement looked super sharp and it was leading to guys having wide open shots. The team managed to shoot an outstanding 65% from the field during the quarter. Just about everyone in the starting lineup was able to score. On the defensive side of things, the Thunder were forcing the Nuggets into bad shots, and even came up with a few turnovers.
The second unit came in to start the second quarter, and things couldn’t have gone worse. All of the sudden this team was struggling to find a way to score, and they could no longer come up with stops on defense. Denver was essentially picking apart our defense, and the Thunder simply had no answer. Oklahoma City’s defense looked out of place and Denver was coming up with wide open shots. The Thunder’s 14 point lead quickly dwindled to only 6 at halftime.
The struggle to score continued during the third quarter. This time, it was the starting lineup that couldn’t get anything to fall. Russell Westbrook was about the only one who could find a way to the basket. Fortunately, the Thunder were able to figure things out defensively. The Denver offense looked similar to that of the first quarter. OKC couldn’t find a way to score, but neither could Denver towards the end of the quarter. Alex Abrines hit a couple of clutch 3’S to push the Thunder past their rough patch. This is really when things started to turn around for the Thunder.
The fourth quarter was without a doubt the best portion of the game. Josh Huestis started the scoring for OKC and he even made a few defensive plays. The Thunder were able to come up with a bunch of stops and transitioned those into points on the other end. When the Thunder needed a stop the most, they were able to come up with it. To add even more to that, OKC was able to score through Russell Westbrook. The Brodie took over the second half, and he was without a doubt the reason why the Thunder came out on top.
Russell Westbrook missed a crucial free throw that allowed an opportunity for the Nuggets to win. However, the Thunder played great defense and came up with a stop. In a back and forth game, it was ultimately Oklahoma City that who were able to overcome the heat of the moment and comeback from 10 behind for a 95-94 victory.
3 Quick Thoughts
- This Team Takes Too Many 3’s
The Thunder are 25th in the league in 3 point shots made. The team is shooting barely 35% for the season. However, they still shot 24 times beyond the arc tonight, and only made 7 of them. Sure, there are nights when this team is on fire and that many attempts would be perfectly fine. However, tonight was simply not that night. This team must figure out when and when not to shoot the deep ball. The team took too many bad looks from beyond the arc, and passed up too many great looks.
- Steven Adams is Greatly Missed
If there is anything we have learned from the past few games is that this team is clearly missing Steven Adams. For lack of a better term, Adams is the rock to this offense. Nearly everything revolves around him. The pick and roll offense is the large part of it, but his ability to clean up the glass is amazing. Steven Adams should become the focus of this offense. Once the Thunder learn that he is one of the best players on the team, they will be nearly unstoppable.
- Russ Needs to be Russ
I’ve said it before, but Russell Westbrook has been too passive this season. Tonight is just one example of Russ taking over a game. Often times he chooses to pass instead of taking a shot. This team will be better off if Russ plays a little more like he did last season. Sure, with the help around him he doesn’t always have to, but he needs to remember he is the best player on this team.
Another Division Opponet at Home
The Thunder will be back in action again on Wednesday night as they take on the Utah Jazz. This will be another chance for the Thunder to earn a division win. Playing in front of their home crowd, I expect the Thunder to come out ready to play. The game will start at 7:00 PM CST, and it 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.