The Thunder lost last night in Dallas, after taking a 101-95 lead with only a few minutes remaining. They turned the ball over multiple times and only scored 2 more points, as they lost 105-103.

Tonight was a completely different ballgame. Paul George went for 16 points and four steals in the first quarter as Oklahoma City jumped out to a 32-to-21 lead to end the quarter, and would eventually win 122-102.

Key components to why tonight’s game against Dallas was so different than last night’s game; Russell Westbrook. Westbrook finished with 32 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, on 13-of-24 shooting, compared to his atrocious 4-of-22 shooting game the previous night. His mid-range shooting and shot selection improved, as he only took one three-pointer tonight and made multiple pull-up 17 footers. Westbrook was very critical of himself after last night’s loss in his post-game interview, so tonight was a great way to bounce back.

Paul George had a difficult time after the first quarter, only scoring six points after his 16-point outburst. George was in foul trouble, with frustration setting in after some tough calls. He ended with five fouls on the night, and 22 points on 7-of-21 shooting, adding four steals, which all came in the first quarter.

Jerami Grant had a great game tonight, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and adding in some highlight dunks, one off of this lob from Russell Westbrook:

Terrance Ferguson started for the first time in a few games after being sidelined with an illness. His impact was seen in his play on the defensive end. His improvement since last season is a great sight for Thunder fans. High flying highlights like this lob from Russell Westbrook are amazing:

The game was in control for Oklahoma City the whole way. Dallas never led, and Oklahoma City’s largest lead was 22, two points less than what they ended up winning by.  The closest the game got was 9 points early in the second quarter, which jumped back up to 17 by the end of the first half. Dallas ran out of timeouts halfway through the third quarter, and actually tried to call one in the fourth quarter, which resulted in a technical foul and possession for Oklahoma City.

Harrison Barnes was unconscious from the three-point-line, shooting 7-of-9. Luka Doncic was held to 17 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Notorious Thunder killer J.J. Barea was 1-of-8 from the field, sporting a -8 plus-minus.

The Thunder improved to 23-13 with the win tonight, and remain in 3rd place in the Western Conference. The only team’s ahead of them at the 25-13 Warriors and the 23-11 Nuggets.

Oklahoma City travels to Los Angeles to play the Lakers, Wednesday at 9:30 Central on ESPN. LeBron James’ status for the game is unknown.

Keys to the Game

Force Turnovers A+

A Thunder franchise record was set tonight with the 29 turnovers forced. George and Westbrook both had four steals, while Jerami Grant had three. Their rotations were A+ tonight, with little lapses, and when they did, Billy Donovan was ready with a timeout to fix them.

Free Throws C

The Thunder went 24-for-35 from the line tonight. Steven Adams was the biggest contributor to the poor free throw shooting tonight. Adams went 2-of-8, while every other Thunder player only missed one at most. Russell Westbrook shot a perfect 6-of-6, a sight for sore eyes. Westbrook was an 80 percent+ free throw shooter up until the 2017-18 season. If he could get back up to 80 percent, that would be wonderful.

Russell Westbrook’s Play A

Whenever Westbrook shoots over 50 percent, that’s a win in my book. Combined with his triple double tonight, he was great. One complaint about him tonight was his five turnovers. There were a few IQ related plays that led to turnovers, but if he didn’t make those plays, he wouldn’t be Russell Westbrook. He limited his three-point attempts to only one tonight, which is great; he shouldn’t be taking any. He’s shooting under 25 percent on them this season.

 

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James Horvath