The Oklahoma City Thunder did what they should have done last night as they dominated from start to finish to defeat the Dallas Mavericks at home 122-102 on New Year’s Eve night.
The Oklahoma City Thunder looked like a completely different team to start tonight’s game as they surged to a 9-2 lead a little over 3 minutes into the game behind 6 points from Paul George. George continued his scoring flurry as he finished the first quarter with 16 points, and the Thunder built their lead to 17 at one point. The Mavs finished the period on a 9-3 run, though, and at the end of the first, OKC led Dallas 32-21.
The Thunder continued their dominant defensive play in the second quarter forcing 17 turnovers and converting them into 26 points by halftime. After 16 points in the first quarter, Paul George did not score in the second, but Russell Westbrook found his shot and scored 15 in the period as the Thunder led 60-43 at the half.
The Mavericks came out firing on all cylinders as they knocked down 4 threes in the first 4 minutes of the third to cut the deficit to 12, but the Thunder were not okay with that. After a quick timeout, they went on a 6-0 run to push the lead back to 18 at 75-57. The Mavs did their best job to hang around, though, and after three quarters, the Thunder led 92-75.
Harrison Barnes came out in the fourth continuing his hot shooting to knock down his 6th and 7th shots from deep in the second half to make it 94-81 as OKC was forced to call a timeout just a minute into the final period. The Thunder came in and went back to work to push the lead back to 19 midway through the period. It was pretty much over at that point, and OKC finished the job in front of the home crowd to finish 2018 with a 122-102 win over the Mavs.
Thunder Player of the Game
Russell Westbrook earns tonight’s Thunder Player of the Game honors after rebounding from last night’s ugly shooting night with a solid one this evening. Westbrook finished with 32 points on 13-24 (54.2%) from the field and 6-6 (100%) from the charity stripe to go along with 11 assists, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals as he tallied his 10th triple-double of the season.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Best Thunder Defense of All Time? Oklahoma City is playing defense like it never has before, and tonight, they set a franchise record by forcing 29 turnovers. They took those opportunities and turned it into 36 points, which is bonkers by any standard. Russell Westbrook and Paul George had 4 steals apiece, and Jerami Grant added 3. With that type of production, the Thunder continues to be scary on the defensive side of the ball.
- Did Russ Get His Groove Back? It might be a little early to say Westbrook is back to his 2017-18 MVP form, but he definitely bounced back from last night’s ugly performance with a pretty one tonight. He said that he would only be better moving forward, and he kept his word tonight. A big reason for that is the fact that he shot just one three, which he missed, but he took most of his shots in or close to the paint. Russ needs to continue to attack the basket. If he can do that, he will be just fine.
- Start the New Year Off Strong: OKC had a rough December at times, but finishing off the year winning 6 of the last 10 isn’t terrible. Looking ahead, the Thunder has a potentially challenging January. Kicking off the year with a win in Los Angeles against the Lebron-less Lakers would be a great start to 2019.
Happy New Year!
The Oklahoma City Thunder gets the day off tomorrow after playing back-to-back games, but they have to travel to Los Angeles where they will take on the Lakers on Wednesday. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season, but Lebron James and Rajon Rondo are both out for LA, so the team will look somewhat similar to what the Thunder faced last season. Tip-off is set for 9:30 PM CT and will be broadcast on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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