Preview 26 of 82: Thunder @ Pelicans

Time: 7:00 PM CST

TV: ESPN/Fox Sports Oklahoma

Game Notes: Thunder / Pelicans

The Thunder (17-8) are coming off an emphatic 122-113 home win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night – a win that secured OKC the top spot in the Western Conference. They will look to continue their success tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans (14-15). The Thunder beat the Pelicans 122-116 earlier this season — the game Russell Westbrook left with a sprained ankle.

The Pelicans have been consistently inconsistent in their first 25 games, alternating wins, and losses since November 26. Meanwhile, the Thunder have only lost four games since October 25 and boast a 14-1 record against sub-.500 teams. This is a huge improvement from last season when the Thunder were 6-5 against sub-.500 teams through 25 games.

Tip-off is at 7:00 P.M. CST and will be televised on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are two-point road favorites according to Odds Shark.


Injury Report

Thunder

  • Andre Roberson: Out — Knee

Pelicans

  • Elfrid Payton: Out — Finger
  • E’Twaun Moore: Out — Leg
  • Nikola Mirotić: Out — Ankle

Probable Starters

Pelicans: Tim Frazier, Jrue Holiday, Solomon Hill, Anthony Davis, Julius Randle


Statistics

General

Advanced

 ORTGDRTGNET RTGPACEPIE
OKC108101.96.2103.353.1
DEN110.7104.56.298.553.6

Four Factors

TeamEFGFTA%TO%OREB%OP EFGOP FTAOP TOOP OREB
OKC50.70.26614.431.850.20.26117.426.2
NOP53.70.28614.630.253.10.25613.327.1

What to Watch For

MVPG. Paul George is making a serious case for league MVP, averaging career-highs in points (24.3), rebounds (7.8), assists (4.3), steals (2.2), and blocks (0.8). George plays a huge role in OKC’s #1-ranked defense but has too often been the Thunder’s only consistent source of offense. He’s arguably the best two-way player in the NBA and does it all while playing off-ball. In Monday’s game against the Jazz, he had the most efficient night of his career, scoring 31 points on only 10 shot attempts. He’ll look to keep it going tonight.

Plagued Pelicans. When the Pelicans start Elfrid Payton, Jrue Holiday, Moore, Mirotić, and Anthony Davis, they are 5-0 and have outscored opponents by 42 points in only 65 minutes of floor time. Unfortunately, Payton is out indefinitely after breaking his finger on November 16th. Meanwhile, Mirotić has missed 8 games with different leg injuries and Moore has missed 15 games due mostly to a recurring ankle injury. Both Mirotić and Moore are listed as ‘out’ for tonight’s game. The Pelicans constant injuries are putting an unsustainable strain on Anthony Davis, who is averaging 36.9 minutes per game (the most in the NBA).

Randle on the Rise. Due to Mirotić’s injury, Pelicans forward Julius Randle has seen big minutes and has made a huge impact for the Pelicans. Randle is averaging 24.2 points and 11.2 rebounds as a starter. In the first Thunder/Pelicans meeting of the season, Randle scored a game-high 26 points off the bench for New Orleans and was a perfect 10-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-2 from deep and 4-of-4 from the free throw line, to go with eight rebounds and two blocks.

Third Quarter Thrillers. In Monday’s game against Utah, the Thunder outscored the Jazz 42-29 out of halftime adding to an OKC trend of absolutely punishing third quarters. The Thunder lead the NBA in third quarter margin in the league at +4.8 (second best is +2.5). On Monday, George alone scored 17 points off 4 made three-pointers and 5 free throws.

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