Oklahoma City is three games above .500 for the first time this season. Tonight, the Thunder picked up another win against the wounded Utah Jazz. Despite playing the injured Jazz, this was still a solid win for Oklahoma City. Playing on the second night of a back to back hasn’t gone well for this Thunder team so far. However, tonight they were able to come out with the same intensity and energy that they usually play at. The level that the Thunder played at did not seem like they were on the end of a back to back.
The Thunder started out the game on fire offensively. Melo hit his first three of the game, which really set the tone to start out. The defense was also playing extremely well, only allowing 8 points for the Jazz throughout the first 6 minutes of the quarter. OKC began to struggle to score a bit, which allowed the Jazz to stay in the game.
The defense started out the second quarter playing with a different level of intensity than when the first ended. Oklahoma City was coming up with all kinds of monster blocks. The Thunder held a small lead throughout the quarter, but could never really pull away. The team held a four point lead at the end of the first half.
The Thunder started out the second half shooting extremely well. The team was taking great selections which led to easy baskets. Russell Westbrook hit back to back shots from the corner of the free throw line, then Paul George followed that by hitting back to back three’s. This really sparked the Thunder’s offense. Once they got going, the Jazz simply couldn’t keep up. The defense was creating turnovers which led to even more offense. Paul George had 6 steaks at the end of the third quarter.
OKC went on a 13-3 run during the third quarter, which really put the Jazz in a tough spot. The Thunder held a 13 point lead with ten minutes to go in the game. Utah responded with six straight points, but OKC again had an answer. Steven Adams checked in with about 7 minutes remaining in the game. Rudy Gobert was innactive tonight, and the Thunder really took advantage of that. Russell Westbrook picked up a triple-double with an alley-pop to the Big Kiwi towards the end of the game. Adams was able to dominate the inside without Gobert being there which ultimately led to the 103-89 Thunder victory.
3 Quick Thoughts
- OKC is Playing Great Basketball
After a rough start to the season, this team is finally starting to play great basketball. The Big 3 are finally finding their pace. Paul George said it best tonight when he stated that “They didn’t know who they were offensively at the beginning of the year”. Melo, PG13, and Russ are finally starting to figure it out. Each one of them has their role now. It looks like this team could be peaking at the right time.
- Second Unit Brings the Energy
The second unit has been an issue throughout the season for OKC. At times, they have come out flat and given up the lead that the starters earned. However, tonight they came out with more energy than the starters. They never gave up the lead, and carried the pace at a level that Utah couldn’t keep up with. Patrick Patterson is finally figuring out his spot on this team, and it’s coming up huge for OKC!
- Defense Steps Up Again
The Thunder have been playing well on offense lately, but they’ve in return struggled on the defensive side of things. Tonight, the Thunder finally played well on both ends. Paul George had 6 steals, and the team had 9 altogether. OKC also came up with 5 blocked shots. If the thunder can continue to play well on defense as they figure things out offensively, they will start dominating more and more opponents.
The Thunder will be back in action again on Christmas Day. They will take on the Houston Rockets at the Peake at 7:00 PM CST. The game will be televised on ABC and will be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. Houston is coming off of two loses in a row so they will be ready to play. Oklahoma City has a great opportunity to prove they are heading in the right direction with a win on Monday night.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.