A thunderous throw down over DeMarcus Cousins really was the epitome of what the Thunder brought in their 118-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
Oklahoma City improves to a season best nine games over .500 and OKC is 34-25 on the season. It’s only a half-game out of sixth place in the Western Conference.
Westbrook finished with 41 points, 11 rebounds and 11 rebounds.
“I thought our team did a really good job tonight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I knew tonight would be a challenge.”
Despite 69 points from Anthony Davis and Cousins, the Thunder never wavered or panicked as they stayed the course. OKC overcame an early nine-point deficit and tied it up at halftime 59-all. New Orleans found the bottom of a couple of three-point shots in the early part of the third quarter, but OKC never let New Orleans get a comfortable lead from there on out.
Enes Kanter continued to knock the rust off. He scored 20 points in his second game back from his broken arm. He was an offensive juggernaut who couldn’t be stopped, Cousins and Davis be damned. He’s a ballerina on the block and can spin a pivot foot with the best of them.
However, all of this would be for naught if it wasn’t for Westbrook. His 31 points and nine rebounds in the second half was the real catalyst for the Thunder. He had 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the final 16 for the Thunder. His marksmen ability in the clutch is second to none in this league. Not Isaiah Thomas. Not Steph Curry. It’s Russell Westbrook. He’s a bounty hunter looking to lock down a victory like it skipped bail.
Westbrook’s ability to find his teammates and get them involved was apperent tonight. Westbrook had nine assists on OKC’s 24 made buckets in the first half. Westbrook assisted or scored 22 of OKC’s 59 points.
“Nothing Russell [Westbrook] does surprises me anymore,” Donovan said.
OKC will round out its homestand against the division leading Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. Utah is 37-22 on the year and has a three-game lead on the Thunder. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Defend the paint: A+
Against Boogie and Davis you’d expect the Thunder to struggle to win the paint scoring, but it wasn’t all that hard tonight. OKC really controlled it all around, outscoring the Pelicans 56-40 in the paint.
Play fast: A+
While there weren’t a lot of fast break points scored tonight, only 14 overall, the Thunder went fast. They were like Ricky Bobby in the Daytona 500. OKC was in control and dominated the Pelicans on the break while in the same sentence, not allowing a team like New Orleans to win something it shouldn’t.
Hit the three: D
Those not named Russell Westbrook shot 4-of-13 from deep. Westbrook was 2-of-8 from deep and the Thunder’s bench was 0-for. OKC has to figure out how to hit the three but really have gotten lucky so far. Some of the three-point bench shooting could change if and when Victor Oladipo returns and Alex Abrines heads back to the bench. Abrines was 3-of-7 from deep tonight.