This was a great game played by OKC after getting some extended rest from the All-Star break. Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott made their Thunder debut tonight, Kanter returned from injury and Alex Abrines got his first NBA start!
Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson both scored a career high of 19 points. Abrines started in place of Oladipo, who sat out with back spasms. Abrines came ready to play and really showcased his range nailing five three-pointers and didn’t the turn ball over once. He’s an excellent floor spacer and is really learning to move effectively without the ball. I hope to see more of his game spotlighted the rest of this season.
Well I guess it’s a good thing OKC didn’t trade Roberson. He was a game-high +34 and had a nice stat line of 19 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. He shot a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc and shot 8-of-9 from the field. I went into this game wondering if McDermott would eventually be the replacement starting Small Forward, but Roberson is really making his case to keep that spot.
Sam Presti is an incredible General Manager, you da real MVP, Sam. Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott look like they’re going to be excellent additions on this Thunder team going forward. Gibson had 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in his debut. McDermott had 8 points and 4 rebounds. I think these two will really make this Thunder much better once they become more integrated with the new system and players.
I’ve went this whole recap without talking about Russ, which doesn’t feel right whatsoever. He was incredible and earned his 28th triple-double of the season. He had a ridiculous statistical night with 17 points, 18 rebounds, 17 assists and 3 steals. He didn’t shoot the ball very well, but it doesn’t matter when you’re Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers traded their leading scorer before the trade deadline in Lou Williams for a first round pick and to give more opportunities to their young core. This Lakers squad just looked unorganized on offense. They were rushing shots and shooting unnecessary, contested jumpers. D’Angelo Russell had a game high of 29 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals.
It was great to see Roberson and Abrines step up in a big way. The Thunder offense has largely revolved on Russ playing out of his mind this season, but I think this team won’t be so dependent on him on a nightly basis with the new roster additions and as Thunder players continue to develop. Keep in mind that seven of the Thunder players, literally half of the team, are playing their first season in OKC. The Thunder have one of the lighter schedules in the NBA to wrap up the season and they’re still very much in the race for a higher seeding in the Western Conference.
- The Thunder scored 64 points in the paint, were +8 in rebounds and scored 28 points off turnovers. They were able to control the flow of the game and really played to their strengths tonight.
- Enes Kanter returned! It was good to see The Big Turkey on the court again, but he looked a little rusty scoring 4 points on 2-of-12 from the field. That’s to be expected. He’s playing with new teammates and he’s returning from an arm injury. This was the perfect game for the Thunder to ease Kanter back in the rotation and let him get some shots up.
- So, Semaj Christon is the official backup point guard… Of course the Thunder got better with the additions of Gibson and McDermott, but the Thunder really need to fill that open roster spot with a veteran point guard. Looking at you Norris Cole.
- The Thunder now have five small forwards and I still want Josh Huestis to get playing time. Just wanted to point that out.
- Steven Adams had a solid night with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Good job mate.
Next Up: This Sunday at home against Boogie Cousins, Anthony Davis, and the new look New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off at 6pm CST.