The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to snap their four-game losing streak with a strong win at home over the Los Angeles Clippers, with a final score of 120-111. It was a big night for Thunder’s big three, especially Paul George. Oklahoma City also got nice contributions from a number of different role players in different areas of the game.
Westbrook setting the tone
Russell Westbrook set the tone early for the Thunder. When this team needed a leader to step up, Westbrook stood up again as he has since he arrived. It wasn’t just the organization that needed Westbrook to step up it was the fans that also needed their man to stand up, and Westbrook knew it. Thunder fans put up the bat signal, and Batman answered.
Westbrook exploded early in the first quarter and told the fans to get loud on two consecutive, and one plays Westbrook got straight up and interacted with the crowd to get them on their feet and scream, and they did. Westbrook finished with 22 points three rebounds and eight assists shooting 8-of-16 at 50 percent. Westbrook was also impactful on defense with three steals.
The defense, offense and 💙of Russell Westbrook. 10 points already. pic.twitter.com/97WnMw1LQ1
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 11, 2017
Steven Adams missed Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers which opened up a starting job. Everyone thought it would either be Jerami Grant or Patrick Patterson. Coach Billy Donovan threw a curveball and gave rookie Dakari Johnson the starting job, and he repaid the favor in spades. Johnson played 23:13 minutes scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shots at 60 percent he was able to get to the free throw line shooting 3-of-6 at 50 percent Johnson also was able to get one block and one steal.
If you’re a lover of stats, you didn’t get to see how good Johnson was against the Clippers. Johnson was fantastic against the Clippers all-star big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, Johnson’s size, and athleticism was massive for the Thunder on defense and offense.
Jordan only managed nine points on 4-of-8 shooting at 50 percent. Jordan was still impactful on the boards recording 12 rebounds, but he was a minus 18 player for the Clippers when on the floor. This was a fantastic game for Johnson and may have earned himself some playing time going forward.
Billy Donovan on Dakari Johnson: "He was a major factor for us tonight" beyond the stat sheet. In shape. Ready to play. "I've always had confidence in Dakari.
— Erik Horne (@ErikkHorne) November 11, 2017
Finding the hot hand
When this new big three were put together, there was this constant discussion of will these three iso players be able to sacrifice and play as a team. There have been signs of them being able to work together look at their first game against the New York Knicks. There have also been signs of them not being able to play together, look at the game against the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings. For me this game put that question to bed, against the Clippers Paul George was red hot, in the past, Westbrook would have still tried to get his 20-25 shots and the same for Carmelo Anthony but not tonight. Westbrook knew it was George’s night and both he and Anthony got the ball to George every chance possible.
Westbrook shot the ball 16 times and Anthony 12, George finished the game scoring 42 points on 13-of-22 shots at 59.1 percent and 4-of-7 from three at 57.1 percent. This game was a perfect example of Westbrook sacrificing to make this teamwork. This was the first time we got a strong message from Anthony that he wants this to work as well and it leads to a Thunder 120 – 111 win over the Clippers.
Paul George with 42 on 13-20.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) November 11, 2017
Letting teams back into games
The Thunder were up by 20 points in the last quarter but let the Clippers comeback to within single digits. It’s been a common theme for this team; it seems to be a lack of concentration and taking an unnecessary risk on the part of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook often leaves his opponent to try and anticipate a pass or gambles on a steal which in turn leave’s his opponent wide open and in the first 10 games the opposition has made Westbrook and the Thunder pay.
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And we're tied. Austin Rivers for 3 and it's 105-105, 5:36 4Q. Thunder once led by 20.
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) November 11, 2017