Westbrook Buzzer Beater Helps Thunder Escape in Sacramento

The Thunder kicked off the last stretch of the season tonight with a win over the Kings. The Thunder looked well rested after the All-Star Break. They came out hot, but quickly faded through the middle of the game. Luckily, the Thunder made some shots down the stretch and finished this one strong.

The Thunder got off to a hot start, primarily due to aggressive defense and hot hands from beyond the arc. Paul George led the way with 13 points and seven assists, Carmelo Anthony poured in 12 points off 4/4 from three, and Russell Westbrook did a little bit of everything as he tallied four points, five assists, and three rebounds. Oklahoma City scored a season-high in points for a quarter and a franchise-record 14 assists in a quarter as they finished the period with a 44-21 lead.

The second quarter was a different story for both teams as Sacramento scored eight straight points to open things up before Terrance Ferguson was able to hit a three for Oklahoma City. The Kings were not done, however, as they outscored the Thunder 22-7 through the first six minutes of the quarter. Sacramento was able to trim the deficit to four, but Oklahoma City was able to create a little bit of breathing room and go into the locker room at the half with a 67-60 lead.

Russell Westbrook kicked off the third quarter with his quickest triple-double of the season. This one was his 18th of the year. Shortly after, the Kings went on a run and cut the Thunder’s lead to 2. Oklahoma City responded well and increased the lead back to 9. Steven Adams had to leave the game temporarily due to injury, and it seemingly killed the flow of the Thunder offense. The Kings took advantage of the situation by knocking shots. The Thunder resorted to isolation offense and allowed Sacramento to hold a 3 point lead heading into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter seemed hopeless after the previous two quarters. However, the Thunder weren’t quite done yet. Oklahoma City hadn’t scored in 7 minutes, until Raymond Felton got fouled and made the bucket. The Thunder would go on a 7-0 run that put them right back in the game. After much back and forth, the Thunder held a two point lead with 14 seconds to go. After grabbing an offensive rebound and getting a second chance, the Kings tied it up with 1 second to go. All signs pointed to overtime until Russell Westbrook hit a 3 at the buzzer for the 110-107 victory.

3 Quick Thoughts

  • This Team Needs Better Offensive Management In Clutch Time. 

The Thunder’s offense essentially disappeared down the stretch in this game. It seems like when this team is struggling to score they turn to isolation offense rather than running any sets. When shots aren’t falling, isolation offense can either turn things around by getting shooters hot, or it can stall the offense even more.

When this team realizes what shots to take and what shots not to take in clutch situations, they will begin to close these games out a bit easier. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were on fire tonight, but they barely saw the ball in the final stretch. Look for the Thunder to start getting the ball in the hands of these guys in the final minutes.

  • You Gotta Play Four Quarters! 

The Thunder jumped out to a 23 point lead over the Kings at one point in this game. After a record setting first quarter, the Thunder allowed the Kings back into the game after giving up 39 in the second quarter. To make matters worse, the Kings continued to outscore the Thunder through the third quarter, which gave them the edge over OKC heading into the fourth.

This team must figure out how to play consistent on both sides of the ball for all four quarters. Ups and downs are bound to effect any team, and your opponent is guaranteed to go on a run at some point in the game. However, OKC needs to find a way to limit the damage and respond with an answer of their own.

  • A Win Is A Win! 

Regardless of what took place in the four quarters tonight, the Thunder came out with a win. At this point in the season you take anything you can get. The playoff race in the West is tight, and every game counts. Sure, there’s things this team can improve on, but a victory tonight was huge. It’s the first game of a four game road trip, and losing the first night would likely effect the rest of this trip. Now this team can head to Oakland with confidence as they take on the Warriors.

Onward To Oracle

The Thunder now heads to Oakland, California where they will take on the Golden State Warriors for a Saturday night primetime matchup. The Thunder has blown out the Warriors by an average of 18.5 points in two games so far this season. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM CT and will be televised on ABC. The game will also be broadcast on WWLS 98.1 FM.

Be sure to check out our latest episode of Thunder Things with the Thunder Guys.

Article written by Craig Hofeld and Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to like us on Facebook.

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