The Thunder led by as much as 22 points on Thursday night versus the undermanned Pelicans, who were missing Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, and Nikola Mirotic. After New Orleans gave Oklahoma City a late scare in the fourth quarter, the home team wound up winning by the final score of 122-116.
Oklahoma City started the game very lackadaisical, and the lack of energy forced Billy Donovan to call a timeout only 2 minutes and 27 seconds into the game. The timeout seemed to work, as the Thunder responded immediately with a 12-2 run out of the timeout. That burst of energy in the first was short-lived, as six Oklahoma City turnovers and lapses on the defensive end mostly defined the opening 12 minutes. Although Russell Westbrook dished out six assists and Paul George went 3-of-4 from three, the Thunder and Pelicans ended the quarter tied at 28.
The second quarter was defined in the final five minutes. After seven or so minutes where both teams exchanged leads, the Thunder were able to take control. With five minutes until half, the Pelicans led 45 to 44. That would be the last time Alvin Gentry’s squad would hold the lead. The Thunder finished the half on a 21-8 run with a plethora of contributors, including Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant. The run was enough to take a comfortable 65-to-53 lead going into the second half.
The third quarter began with an 8-0 Oklahoma City run in the first minute, which ballooned the lead to 20 points. Included in the run was Russell Westbrook clinching his 14th triple-double of the season by grabbing a rebound just 16 seconds into the third. It appeared that a healthy lead would be enough to put a very injured New Orleans team to bed early, and the Thunder did manage to stave off a few runs by the Pelicans to keep them at bay. After leading by as much as 22 points, OKC settled for a 16 point lead heading into the final quarter; outscoring New Orleans 33-29.
In the fourth quarter, things went south for the Thunder. The same energy that they had towards the end of the second quarter and the third quarter was not there. The Pelicans got the Thunder lead down to as low as five points when Jrue Holiday started firing from three, but it was too late.
Oklahoma City increases their winning streak to four games and are now 30-18, 12 games over .500, tying a season high.
Russell Westbrook finished with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting (1-of-3 from three), 16 assists, and 17 rebounds.
Paul George finished with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting (6-of-10 from three), 11 rebounds, and seven assists.
All starters scored in double figures.
Both teams shot a combined 27 free throws (Oklahoma City 15, New Orleans 12)
The Thunder held the Pelicans to 10-of-36 from 3-point range.
The Thunder finish up their home stand on Sunday, Jan. 27, when the 34-12 Milwaukee Bucks visit Chesapeake Energy Arena at 5 p.m. Central. The game will be televised on ESPN as well as Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Keys to the Game
Free Throws: D
The Thunder shot 8-of-16 from the line, that’s atrocious. Russell Westbrook shot 4-of-8, and Paul George shot 1-of-4. Probably just an off night from the line, and luckily, it did not cost them the game.
Rebound the Ball: A
The Thunder out-rebounded the Pelicans 58-42, as they should with the Pelicans missing Anthony Davis and Julius Randle. Steven Adams racked up seven offensive boards of his 13.
Limit Turnovers: C
The Thunder turned the ball over six times in the first quarter, which included zero turnovers from Russell Westbrook. They took better care of the ball in the other quarters, only turning the ball over eight times for the rest of the game. If Oklahoma City didn’t turn the ball over so much in the first quarter, then the game would have been over much sooner.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!