Thunder win a close one at a home, 99-96

BOX SCORE

This game looked like it would go Boston’s way after Victor Oladipo went down with a scary fall in the second quarter and sat the rest of the game, but the Thunder were steadfast and Russell Westbrook stepped up big again late in the fourth quarter.

This was an ugly win for sure, but Westbrook willed this team to victory, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter and 23 in the second half. The biggest sequence of the game was Westbrook scoring past three defenders at the rim, putting OKC up 96-94 with 30.6 seconds left. After Boston’s miss on the other end, it was Russ who battled for the rebound and won the jump ball against Avery Bradley. A lapse in defense by the Celtics allowed Jerami Grant to put the Thunder up by four — emphatically — with a wide open dunk. Those were Grant’s only two points of the night, and I have no idea how he was that wide open with the game on the line.

The Celtics were without their leading scorer Isaiah Thomas and Oladipo only played nine minutes for OKC before spraining his wrist. This was a pretty even match-up for both teams and should be considered a big win for OKC. The schedule is about to get really difficult in January for OKC, so games like tonight are the kind of games that could very well decide the Thunder’s playoff seeding in time.

Russ was the standout player tonight for the Thunder as usual with 37 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals, but unfortunately he couldn’t keep the triple-double streak alive. It’s likely Russ will get more chances this season for another streak. Adams, Kanter and Christon all stepped up tonight offensively when Oladipo went down. Wait, did I just say Christon stepped up offensively? That’s not what I was expecting to be writing about tonight, but it’s great seeing him go 3-of-3 from the field and actually contribute. Maybe Ronnie Price could contribute as much as Christon has so far, but it’s good that he’s playing well nonetheless.

The best players tonight for the Celtics were Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Avery Bradley, but they offensively missed Isaiah Thomas quite a bit. The Celtics might be a better defensive team without Thomas, but it’s hard to replace 26 points per game. Tonight certainly wasn’t a shooting clinic for either team. Jae Crowder shot very efficiently tonight, but got in foul trouble by picking up three fouls in the third quarter. The Thunder shot 14 percent from 3, but were +14 in points in the paint, +9 in rebounds and got to the line 27 times.

Notes:

  • Westbrook’s missed free throw at the end of the game almost ruined my night. OKC was a Marcus Smart three-pointer away from going into overtime.
  • Joffrey grabbed 8 boards tonight. He’s such a great fit for this team.
  • Steven Adams and Enes Kanter are so efficient at scoring. Adams is currently fifth in the NBA in FG% and Kanter is sixth. Tonight Adams had 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Kanter had 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. The efficiency of effectiveness of these two bigs helps balance Westbrook’s reckless style of play.
  • Anthony Morrow hasn’t been looking too bad on defense as of late. If he can stay on the floor without being a defensive liability, that’s a really great sign for OKC.
  • Kyle Singler and Alex Abrines both played tonight, clearly that’s why the Thunder won tonight. Float tanks for the win.
  • Semaj dribbles the ball wayyyy too high for an NBA Point Guard.
  • Al Horford plays with such fluidity. Sabonis needs to take some notes and watch film on him. 
  • Terry Rozier and Semaj Christon go to the same barber for sure.
  • Billy Donovan should really have Adams shoot three-pointers here and there. Adams now has a semi-reliable floater and is becoming a very solid free throw shooter. Why not see if Adams can expand his game a little more?
  • I’m not sure what the ideal trade would be, but these two teams could be pretty interesting trade partners. Get these teams to the trade machine!
  • Westbrook is still good at basketball.

Next up: At the Blazers on Tuesday

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