This was a really fun afternoon game. The Thunder sit as the 7-seed in the West and the Blazers are battling for that eighth spot. This was a close one that saw 16 lead changes and 15 ties.
Westbrook, Oladipo, Roberson and Adams all played at an extremely high level. Westbrook is still making a case for that MVP trophy with 42 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists. He put this game away late in the fourth quarter by shaking off Al-Farouq Aminu with a crossover and making a wide open three. He didn’t have his usual triple-double, but he was still incredible.
Andre Roberson picked up his second career double-double tonight with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals. He thrived tonight and had one of his best performances of the season. He was a force on defense as usual and was able to get in the paint and make a significant contribution on the offensive end. Roberson didn’t make a three-pointer, but didn’t need to. Westbrook found him multiple times cutting to the basket. That’s how you hide a bad shooter. The Blazers aren’t a great defensive team, but this is something that needs to implemented more. Roberson may or may not develop into an average shooter in his career, but he is an excellent athlete that can cut well and finish alley-oops. He had a highlight dunk late in third quarter that made me get out of my seat.
Oladipo played great and tied his career high in rebounds with 24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He’s so important to what this team does. When he’s having a good game, the collective offense of the team flows much easier for everyone. Adams was grabbing offensive rebounds for lunch today. He had 9 offensive rebounds. That’s invaluable. He didn’t really need to do much on the offensive end, but he did the necessary dirty work.
The Thunder were +12 in rebounds, +18 in fast break points and +8 in points in the paint. The Thunder capitalized on their athletic advantage and really were able to play to their strengths. If Portland would’ve out-rebounded OKC, this game could’ve easily turned out differently. OKC just had more opportunities to succeed and they played their style throughout the game.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were the scoring leaders for Portland today. Lillard shined with 29 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block. He would’ve been on my All-Star list for what’s it worth. McCollum had 19 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist. Both shot fairly inefficiently and I give complete credit to Roberson and Oladipo for that.
The Thunder are adjusting pretty well without Kanter. That three-game losing streak was tough to watch at times, but the team is finding new ways to find success in the aggregate. The Grizzlies and TrailBlazers are both solid teams, so hopefully OKC can use this momentum against Indiana tomorrow night.
- Abrines was cleared to play tonight, but still sat this one out. This might be a good thing in the long run to give him a little extended rest.
- The Blazers hit 8 three-pointers in the first half and the Thunder only hit one three in that time. That was a big reason why the Thunder were down 6 at the half. OKC should’ve been up 20 at that point. They were beating Portland in just about every statistical category except for putting the ball in the basket. That’s sort of the point of basketball though. In the second half, OKC hit 3 three-pointers and Portland only hit 2 threes.
- Roberson led all Thunder players in scoring at the half with 12 points. Pretty sure that’s never happened before.
- Gotta give credit to Joffrey Lauvergne. He had 7 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. He’s stepping up in a big way as of late and I think he’ll benefit from seeing more minutes while Kanter is out.
- Jerami Grant barely played tonight surprisingly with 7 minutes. I think that was more of a result of the match up than anything else.
- I’m starting to become super disappointed anytime Josh Huestis doesn’t play. I’m currently building a home on Huestis Peninsula as we speak. It’s going to be great. Buy land now while you can.
Next up: At the Pacers on Monday