The Oklahoma City Thunder have won seven games in a row. And out of the last seven, this one might have been the most impressive. With Russell Westbrook sidelined again due to a sprained ankle, the Thunder blasted the Houston Rockets 98-80.
The Thunder were dominant in virtually every phase of the game but that was especially true on defense. Houston’s 80 point output is a season low for any NBA team this season. Outside of a shaky second quarter where the Rockets were able to find some rhythm on some corner threes, the Thunder did a solid job of defending the perimeter against the dangerous Rockets. Houston finished the game shooting 26.2 percent from three (11-of-42). After allowing the Rockets to score 26 points in the third quarter, Oklahoma City held Houston to only 35 points in the second half.
While the Thunder locked in defensively, the offense started to click. Oklahoma City finished with six different players in double figures and each player seemed to take turns in delivering blows to the Rockets defense. First it was Steven Adams (19 points), who helped OKC jump out to an early lead. Then it was Dennis Schröder (14 points) and Paul George (20 points) in the second quarter, helping the Thunder not only regain the lead, but push it out to double digits at halftime thanks to a 21-6 run. In the second half, Jerami Grant (11 points), Terrance Ferguson (14 points), and Raymond Felton (10 points) all helped the Thunder pushed the lead to 25 points in the second half.
The Thunder ruined the Homecoming for Carmelo Anthony, who was 1-of-11 from the field. His one make coming on a Jerami Grant goaltend. His 1-of-11 shooting performance was the fifth worst of his career. His 0-of-6 from deep is the worst shooting performance in Melo’s career. James Harden finished with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting (4-of-12 from deep). Chris Paul finished with only 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
The Thunder did all of this on the second night of a back-to-back and without Westbrook. It was likely Oklahoma City’s best overall performance of the season but most importantly, it was a win that showed signs of things that could possibly come. A suffocating defense with a fast, athletic offense. An offense that believe it or not, may have some unexpected shooters starting to find rhythm.
The Thunder will look to make it eight straight when they travel to Dallas on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
Keys To The Game
Start fast – A+
With no Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City still started fast. That was a big thanks to Steven Adams. The Thunder did a great job of switching Adams onto lesser defenders in the paint and force feeding him the basketball. The Thunder jumped out early and built a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
Stop fouling – A+
The Thunder commit more fouls than any team in the NBA. They’re committing 26.0 fouls per game, which leads to 30.8 free throws per game, most in the NBA. However, against the Rockets, the Thunder only allowed Houston to shoot 10 free throws for the entire game. Without a doubt the best performance of the season for OKC.
Hit threes – B
The Thunder are starting to find its groove from behind the arc. It’s something that is trending in the right direction, but it still leaves something to be desired. The Thunder did make nine three-pointers, but still shot a miserable 24 percent from deep. There were some bright spots, however. Terrance Ferguson had a solid night from three-point land, connecting on 4-of-9 attempts. At one point he was 4-of-6.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!