Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC Cools Off Kemba, Holds Off Late Run From Hornets



Game #18 - Hornets - Recap Stats

The Thunder took on the Charlotte Hornets in the first game of a back-to-back at Chesapeake Energy Arena. This game was much closer than it probably should have been as OKC let the Hornets back into the game late into the fourth. In the end, it was the Thunder’s pace of play that Charolette couldn’t keep up with, giving OKC the 109-104 victory. 

Rapid Recap

Both teams traded shots to start the game. The scoring was distributed between all the starters for OKC early as all five starters contributed 5+ points in the first. Steven Adams, who had 8 points in the quarter, got the post-game activated early, and Westbrook controlled the pick-and-roll offense, feeding Jerami Grant with a terrific lob for a monster slam. Charolette kept up with the pace, though, taking a 33-31 lead into the second. 

Deonte Burton entered the game early in the second quarter, and he hit a three pointer that sparked his career night. Shortly after, he put down a posterizing dunk in what may have been the play of the game. Burton went on to score 11 points in 11 minutes, contributing immensely after OKC’s recent injuries from the bench.

After allowing 10 free throws to the Hornets in the first, the Thunder allowed just 2 attempts in the second. OKC hit from deep 8 times at the half, including a deep one from Westbrook to give the Thunder momentum going into the second half with a 62-57 lead. 

The Thunder picked up the pace coming out of the gates into the second half. Paul George started to heat up, as his offensive presence forced the Hornets defense to collapse, allowing more space for George to distribute to a wide open Grant or Schroeder in the corner.

OKC had six players in double digits mid-way through the third, which is certainly something to smile about. But other than those six players, no one else had a point for the Thunder. Both teams were trading shots yet again, but OKC out-hustled them to take a  lead-into the fourth. 

OKC seemingly had the momentum the whole way, but lost it as soon as they entered the fourth. The second unit started the fourth quarter ice cold, allowing Charlotte to chip away at that lead and start a 9-0 run. OKC was up by as much as 11 in the fourth, and let the Hornets tie it up. PG answered the run that ended on a Walker three pointer with a three of his own. Westbrook, who was two assists shy of a triple-double, hit an absurd and one layup to get the crowd on its feet, bringing that momentum back in OKC’s favor. Down to the final seconds, Kemba Walker dished out a pass to Marvin Williams for three to put Charolette up by one, but was off the mark as Westbrook snagged the rebound and hit both free throws to make it 107-104. Charolette had the last shot to tie the game as Kemba Walker took the shot, but couldn’t hit as Westbrook snagged another clutch rebound to seal the game 109-104.

Thunder Player of the Game

Deonte Burton made the most of his 11 minutes tonight, scoring 11 points in that span shooting 4-8 from the field. With the absences of Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo, Burton had a valuable role in tonights game. His presence during this 2 week stretch without OKC’s two valuable bench players will be crucial. His demoralizing dunk late in the second sparked momentum going into the half, and he made a great impression in his best game this season. 

3 Quick Thoughts

  • Continue to Limit Opponent Free Throws: OKC let the Hornets shoot from the charity stripe 10 times in the first quarter. After the first, the Thunder held Charlotte to only 4 free throws the rest of the game. The – adjustment by the Thunder defense was a huge factor in Friday night’s victory.
  • Poor Showing by 2nd Unit: The second unit was arguably the reason why OKC couldn’t pull away from this game early. The Thunder entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead with momentum on their side. The poor efforts from Patrick Patterson, Raymond Felton and Alex Abrines contributed to allowing Charlotte to take the lead midway through the fourth. 
  • Finish Strong: The Thunder always seem to let opponents back into the game after the 3rd quarter buzzer. If OKC plans on winning crucial games against top teams down the stretch, they need come into the fourth carrying the momentum they’ve had all game.

Second Night of a Back-to-Back

The Thunder take on the Denver Nuggets in the second game of their back-to-back homestand tomorrow night. The game starts at 7:00 PM CT at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game will be televised on FSOK and broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. OKC will have to handle a hot Denver team, in what will be a pivotal division matchup. Look out for phenom Nikola Jokic, as the Thunder will have their hands full dealing with him.

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