Playing four games in five nights, Oklahoma City looked really sluggish throughout the game. However, like great teams do, the Thunder turned the intensity up in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City battled back from a 13-point deficit. Led by Russell Westbrook on his birthday, Oklahoma City stole a 92-90 victory against the Detroit Pistons. Westbrook had 33 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma City improves to 6-2 on the season, winning their fifth straight game.
The first quarter hasn’t always been a strong suite for the Thunder. Tonight was no different. Even though the Thunder lead after the first ended. It wasn’t nearly as nice as it appeared in the box score. The Pistons jumped out to a 16-12 lead before the Thunder finally decided to play some basketball. Oklahoma City used a 9-0 run to grab the 21-16 lead in the first quarter before Detroit made a run of their own.
Second quarter had a story of its own. Coach Scott Brooks decided to bring Jeremy Lamb in the game early in the second quarter. Oklahoma City led 27-23 when Lamb checked into the game. When he checked out Oklahoma City trailed 35-32. While I do not put it all on Jeremy Lamb, I put most of the blame on Scott Brooks. It was a a weird substitution. It killed all the momentum Oklahoma City had just built.
The Pistons, fueled from the run with Lamb in the game, didn’t just stop there. They pushed the lead out to 12 points at 44-32 with 5:28 left in the half. Oklahoma City struggled to make shots but did not give up. Even though they were down 12 Oklahoma City made a run to close out the first half. Thunder used a 15-7 lead, led by 7-0 run by Serge Ibaka.
Baskets didn’t come easy, or in high quantities for Oklahoma City in the third quarter. The Thunder scored just 17 points in the third quarter. Oklahoma City saw their biggest deficit of the young season when Detroit grabbed a 73-60 lead. Oklahoma City trailed 73-62 after three quarters.
Some how, the Thunder woke up to start the fourth quarter. It was a quick three free throws from Kevin Martin. Kevin Durant hit free throws, then all of a sudden with 9:41 to go in the quarter, The Thunder cut the 13-point deficit to just four. Next thing you know, Oklahoma City had grabbed their first lead since the 10:11 mark in the second quarter with the 75-73 lead in the fourth quarter. Didn’t stop there, Westbrook kept attacking, and getting points. He had 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Highlight of the night:
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With the Pistons fighting, and clawing their way to a possible first victory of the season, Durant hit a contested leaner from the right side of the court that gave Oklahoma City the 88-85 lead with 47.6 seconds remaining. Oklahoma City hit their free throws down the lane, and sealed the fate of the Pistons.
Keys to the Game
Bench Play: D
Bench was poor again tonight. Outside of Kevin Martin, the bench really struggled. They accounted for 19 points tonight. that’s almost half of a Westbrook. Even Nick Collison struggled, going -7 tonight. Just an off night. I chalk it up to fatigue. four games in five nights is tough.
Oklahoma City had just 14 turnovers. I say “just” because that’s one of the lowest turnover totals all season long. It was a much improvement and it’s partially why Oklahoma City was able to make their come back. The lack of turnovers in the fourth quarter really was used not to kill momentum.
Finish Quarters Strong: C
ONLLLYYYY reason Oklahoma City gets a C here is because of the fourth quarter. It won the ball game. However, the first three quarters ending were poor. Can’t do that a lot.