The Thunder played the second game of a back-to-back on Thursday at Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Houston Rockets. OKC came into the game riding a six-game winning streak. Paul George led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds while also contributing defensively with six steals and holding the Rockets to their lowest point total in the last two seasons.
OKC started the game hot scoring on their first 3 shots. Terrance Ferguson, who was a huge factor in this game, scored twice from deep in the first which started the momentum on offense early. Steven Adams was active down low with the defensive switches from Houston, and he added 9 points in the first quarter. Houston shot 2-10 from deep in the quarter, while the Thunder managed to take an early 29-19 lead.
Houston came out in the second quarter with answers on offense. PJ Tucker banged home 3 three pointers in a row to start the period in what appeared to seem like Houston’s potential turning point in the game. OKC started the quarter shooting 1-5 from the field, and shortly after that, the game was tied.
Hamidou Diallo had a nice move down the lane that sparked a 14-4 run for OKC with seven minutes left in the second, however. Paul George started to heat up with 17 points at the half while shooting 6-10 from the field, which helped the Thunder to a 59-45 lead at the break.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 9, 2018
Carmelo Anthony did not have the return to his former team as he may have planned as he mimissedsing his first 10 shots in the game. He finished 1-11, and his only make was on a goaltend. He had three good looks from deep in the third quarter, but he couldn’t connect.
Meanwhile, Dennis Schröder connected with Jerami Grant on a pick-and-roll alley-oop that was executed to perfection. Schröder played a terrific game stepping in for an injured Westbrook as he tallied 14 points and five assists. His performance in this game proves that he can fill in for Russell in games against top-seeded opponents, which could be crucial come playoffs.
Paul George: 19 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST, 6 STL
Steven Adams: 15 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST
— NBA (@NBA) November 9, 2018
This game became out of reach early as OKC took reclaimed the lead in the 3rd and never looked back. James Harden finished the game with 19 points shooting 7-19 from the field, while Chris Paul added 10 points.
The story of this game was the defense from Oklahoma City, holding Houston to just 80 points. OKC finished the game with 10 steals, six of them coming from Paul George. The Thunder went on to win the game 98-80 while key contributors like Terrence Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo, and Raymond Felton continue to contribute on both sides of the floor.
✔️Make that 7 in a row.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 9, 2018
Thunder Player of the Game
Terrence Ferguson had one of the best nights of his two-year career finishing the game against Houston with 14 points, while hitting a career-high 4 three pointers. The 21st pick in the 2017 draft has had his fair share of struggles to start the season, entering this game just 5-22 from deep. His contributions Thursday night will certainly boost his confidence moving forward as he appears to have found a rhythm in his shot.
Three Quick Thoughts
- Defense Wins Championships: Tonight showed that regardless of how OKC can shoot on offense, it’s the defense that can win them more games this season. The Thunder shot under 30% from three on Thursday night and still managed to beat Houston by 18. If Billy Donovan can keep up the defensive dominance, the Thunder could continue to stay hot.
- Schröder… Best Backup PG in NBA? Dennis Schröder has been given his chance to shine in absence of Westbrook, and he has certainly done so. His contributions on offense reassure you that OKC won’t lose momentum with Russell recovering. With 14 points and 5 assists on Thursday, is there a better backup point guard in the NBA right now? Charles Barkley doesn’t think so.
- PG is Heating Up: This game was arguably Paul George’s best offensive performance of the season thus far. He only scored 20 points, but his confidence leading this team on the floor against a threat like Houston seemed at its peak. With Westbrook resting, PG desperately needs to be the leader to keep this ship afloat.
Quick Trip to Dallas
OKC now heads to Dallas to take on the Mavericks in the first meeting of the season. OKC will take it’s seven-game win streak up against a struggling 3-8 Dallas team. Rookie Luka Doncic will play his first game against PG and the Thunder, but we will have to wait for his matchup against Westbrook, as he will most likely sit out Saturday night. Tip-off is set for 8 PM, and the game will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.