In a strange way, this was a big time step in the right direction for Oklahoma City. So the final score was 105-98 and the Thunder really didn’t have a realistic chance to win down the stretch. OKC was in it for 48 minutes against the league’s best team on the road – and the Thunder didn’t even play that well. (Too bad they were on the road because they could have gotten their first taste of real Oklahoma today with four tornadoes touching down in the city. I bet they were bummed. Anyway…)
Now don’t get me wrong, it kind of felt like Los Angeles was just cruising at points and was never in jeopardy of letting it get close. They had total control in the second half and for three or four minute stretches it seemed like they could just turn it on and spit out six straight. But OKC scrapped and wouldn’t lay down and die. And that’s one of the many things there is to love about these guys.
With Kevin Durant having an uncharacteristic off night hitting 10 of 23 shots (and by “off night” he still finished with 31 points and 10 boards, making it five straight 30 point games) and Russell Westbrook going 5-16 and Jeff Green 6-14 and the team shooting 40 percent, it’s really amazing that the Thunder was even in it at all down the stretch. Especially when your opponent shoots 46 percent and outrebounds you by 10.
But pure grit and scrappiness (is that a word?) is what did it. OKC took care of the ball, hit free throws and the big three put up solid numbers despite shooting poorly. Durant had the 31 and 10, Green had 16 points, eight boards and five assists and Westbrook was in triple-double territory again with 17-9-7. They all hung in there and played gutty, hard basketball despite shooting a combined 39 percent. That’s what I was really thrilled about. Even though they were all “off,” they still cashed in really solid performances. That’s the type of stuff winning teams do. The Thunder is getting there. Keep Reading…