The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their 25th win to go 5 games above .500 for only the second time this season. The win came against an unhealthy Laker team, but that’s not to take away from what this team did to the Lakers awhile back when they won by 37 against a healthy roster. Despite lacking defense at some points throughout the game, the Thunder managed to pull it off.
The Thunder started off the game with two quick baskets which led to a timeout for the Lakers. After the timeout, Melo hit back to back shots from beyond the arc. It seemed at this point that the Thunder would begin to blowout the Lakers. Oklahoma City was pretty much scoring at will due to the great ball movement on offense. To end the quarter, Billy Donovan put out a lineup that didn’t include any starters. This gave the Lakers a bit of confidence and closed the scoring gap.
The Lakers took all of the momentum to start the second quarter. It actually felt like LA might take the lead and leave the Thunder in the dust. Oklahoma City simply wasn’t getting back in translation, and they weren’t closing out on shooters either. Fortunately, Carmelo Anthony started knocking down shots. Melo is the only reason why the Thunder led at halftime. He finished the quarter 6-8 from the field including 3-4 from beyond the arc. The Thunder held a 60-54 lead at halftime.
It’s clear that the Thunder made the better second half adjustments during the break. Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams were dominating, and he Thunder seemed to fix things on the defensive side of the ball. Oklahoma City just couldn’t be stopped on offense for the remainder of this game. As far as the defense goes, the Thunder did a better job in transition. They picked up shooters and closed out on the ball. Any time the Lakers tried to make a run in the second half it seemed like the Thunder was right there with an answer.
3 Quick Thoughts
- OKC is Hard to Beat When They Are Knocking Down Shots
This may seem like a dumb thought, but it’s true. Many of the problems that this team has faced this season is guys simply not knocking down shots. At the end of the day, the Thunder has 3 of the best isolation scorers in the league. Regardless of the situation, they should be able to make their shots. There has been times when this simply hasn’t happened, and the Thunder has been on the wrong side of the scoreboard. You can put aside the doubts about coaching, or the roster when guys simply make shots. Tonight is a perfect example of how deadly this team can be.
- Defense is Key
Defense is the heart and soul of this team. Oklahoma City dominated the game when they played well on defense. Toward the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, the Thunder were playing very lazy on defense. The score reflected that as the Lakers quickly caught up. As soon as this team stepped it up on the defensive side of the ball, everything else fell into place. It just proves that defense turns into offense.
- Relax, It’s a Long Season
Everyone who is doubting the current state of this team needs to take a step back and relax. This team still has half of the season to go. It hasn’t been an easy ride, that’s fire sure. However, it also hasn’t been a flat out disappointment.
It was clear that it was gonna take time for this team to mesh. Perhaps it took a little longer than usual, but I think it’s safe to say they have figured things out. Let’s all be patient, sit back, and watch this Thunder team strive for greatness. Currently sitting at 5 games above .500, I’m excited to see where this team goes from here.
Cleveland on Saturday Afternoon
The Thunder will be back in action again on Saturday afternoon as they head to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers. The game will start at 2:30 PM CST and it will be televised on ABC. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
This matchup against Cleveland will test how the Thunder matches up with a top team in the Eastern conference. A win would not only improve the overall record for the Thunder, but it will be a huge boost in confidence before the next matchup with the Cavs in Oklahoma City on February 13th.