48 hours after the drama in Salt Lake City, the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a 17-point first half deficit to pick up a 108-96 win over the visiting Brooklyn Nets.
The Thunder got off to a rough start as the offense could not seem to hit a shot, and the Nets were able to make plenty. After trailing 11-1, Russell Westbrook (10 points) and Jerami Grant (4 points) were able to get something going and get the scoring rolling for OKC. Paul George chipped in 4 points as well, but Brooklyn was able to shoot 11-22 (50.0%) from the field to the Thunder’s 7-24 (29.2%), and after the first quarter, the Nets led 27-19.
The second quarter had a much better start as Deonte Burton knocked down a 3 in his first game since signing his full-on NBA contract, but a 13-2 run by Brooklyn put the Nets up 40-24 midway through the period. Brooklyn was able to push their lead to 17 a little over a minute later, but OKC answered thanks to 8 more points from Paul George and 4 quick ones from Westbrook to end the period. Still, OKC trailed 52-42 at the half.
Steven Adams started the game 0-5 from the floor, but he finally got his first bucket to open up the second half with 4 points, both assisted by Russell Westbrook, as the Thunder put together a 9-1 run through the first 1:40 of the third quarter.
OKC continued their scoring barrage, and through the first four minutes of the second half, a 20-6 run, fueled by a three from Westbrook follow by 2 consecutive threes from George, gave the Thunder a 62-58 lead.
Brooklyn started to hit back at that point, and the teams started a back-and-forth exchanging of leads for a while, but the Thunder kept the energy up, and after outscoring the Nets 38-26 in the third, OKC entered the final frame with an 80-78 lead.
The Thunder’s second unit was able to keep it close with the Nets to start the fourth quarter, and four minutes into the fourth quarter, OKC held a mere 88-87 lead. The starters took over at this point as Russell Westbrook was the centerpiece of a 14-0 run to give OKC a 100-87 edge with under 5 minutes to play.
The Thunder was not done, however, as they pushed their largest lead of the night to 16, and it was smooth sailing from there as OKC overcame a 17-point deficit in the first half to defeat Brooklyn 108-96.
Thunder Player of the Game
Russell Westbrook was the consistent force that the Thunder desperately needed tonight, especially after a rough first half, and he picked up his 130th career triple-double–and 26th of the season–with 31 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Westbrook shot 12-23 (52.2%) from the field and a ridiculous 4-8 (50.0%) from 3. Despite OKC’s struggles recently, Westbrook has come out of his shooting woes as he has elevated his game to keep the Thunder rolling.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Is PG Back? Paul George has struggled lately, especially since returning from his shoulder injury, and for the majority of the first half of tonight’s game, it looked like it was going to be another rough night for the all-star forward. PG started 2-8 (25.0%) from the field–including 0-2 (0.0%) from 3–for 4 points, but he finished 9-18 (50.0%) from the field, 3-6 (50.0%) from three, and 4-4 (100.0%) from the free throw line. If he and Russell Westbrook both have it going on offense, opposing teams are going to have a tough time stopping the Thunder.
- Give Steven Adams a Hand: The Thunder’s big man had been stuck in a slump for a while now, and tonight was no different–for the first 2 quarters. In the first half, Steven Adams shot a team-worst 0-5 (0.0%) from the field. The second half was a different story, however, as he scored the Thunder’s first 4 points of the third quarter on his way to finishing the game with 13 points on 6-12 (50.0%) to go along with 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
- Has the Defense Turned the Corner? After starting the season as one of the league’s top defensive teams, the Thunder has dropped off in the second half of the season. At times, they have looked clueless as they have been unable to stop anyone from scoring. For the second game in a row, however, OKC held an opponent to under 100 points. The Thunder has held opposing teams to under 100 points a total of 10 times this season, and 3 of those have come in the last 6 games. They still have some things to work on, but it certainly looks like they are starting to get back to that defensive identity which they had in the first half of the season.
Back on the Road
The Thunder heads back out on the road as they have a quick turnaround in Indiana against the Pacers in the second game of a back-to-back. This is the first matchup of the season between the two teams, and despite missing Victor Oladipo since January 23rd, the Pacers are cruising as one of the top teams in the East. Tip-off is set for 6 PM CT, and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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