The Thunder had a whole host of issues that needed solving after their first two games. Spacing, execution, ball movement, energy.
They didn’t really fix any of that Sunday against the Suns in their 103-96 win, but they looked and played a whole lot better. Simple reason for it: They got Russell Westbrook back. Amazing what having a top five player back on the floor can do for your team.
The Suns led 79-73 about halfway through the fourth quarter and started pushing things into the “OK guys, heh heh, you’re gonna lose this one if you don’t start playing better” zone. The big area for concern for OKC without Westbrook has mostly boiled down to their halfcourt execution, particularly in the fourth quarter of a close game.
A Kevin Durant layup cut it to 79-75, two Nick Collison free throws made it 79-77, a coast-to-coast Westbrook layup tied it, and a turnover and Reggie Jackson runout layup put the Thunder up 81-79. An explosive, lightning fast 8-0 run to take control of the game is what did it. And from there, it wasn’t about great design or execution to close it out. It was just about having a fantastic playmaker on the court that was making plays. Keep Reading…