Author - Avery Acosta

Oklahoma City beats Chicago 121-96

The Thunder used a 21-3 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Oklahoma City lambasted the Chicago Bulls in revenge of an earlier meeting. Oklahoma City won 121-96 on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder now move to 19-10 and are only a game and a half behind Denver for the No. 1 seed, and half a game behind the team in the bay. Oklahoma City is trending up, and I suggest buying stock now. They’re playing their best basketball and if their defense keeps up this gnat like intensity, they can beat anyone, especially with numbers 13-0.

It’s only the sixth time this season Oklahoma City has held an opponent under 100 points. It’s the first time since Dec. 3 against Detroit.

With bent knees and relaxed shoulders, Paul George flicks the wrist and rips the cords for his 23rd point of the first half. The smooth and Rhythmic play of PG paired well, yet contrasted the play of his teammates. Aggressive Jerami Grant left hand flushes, thunderous Adams post moves and high flying Diallo told the tale of an overwhelming offensive and suffocating defense that had the game all but decided well before half.

OKC went on a 21-3 run in the first in large part to Paul George going nuclear and they never surrendered the lead once. While the thunder appeared to be a tad bit sloppy coming into the 2nd quarter, off the bench came Schroder to keep pressure on the helpless bulls (without LaVine, Parker, Valentine).

The Bulls played most of the second half without big man Robin Lopez who was ejected after a scuffle with Grant. Although trying to fight a team who has Steven freaking Adams on it is probably not the best business decision a person can make.

PG finished with 24 points (4-of-4 free throws and 4-of-10 from three) and three steals. George played another excellent game in the month of December and truly was not needed in the second have largely in part to his performance in the first. His presence on defense is overwhelming, and causes disruption and congestion that leads to turnovers and fast break points, a Thunder specialty.

“Westbrook” and “triple double” might as well be synonymous with one another as Westbrook notched the 111th of his career, with 13 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. Westbrook normalizing triple doubles has made tonight seem quiet night (lol). With only accounting for 13 points, Russ lit the bulls up with unreal assists, steals, defensive disruption and crowd pleasing slams that kept momentum squarely with the boys in blue.

Adams played a very nice game with 19 points and eight rebounds. He’s also massive, and lopez is lucky he didn’t go Wreck-it-Ralph on him. Also Hamidou Diallo is very good, and he plays for the Thunder, and with OKC playing a style of basketball that is fast paced, loud and aggressive, he fits right in.

There was a scuffle in the third quarter between both teams. Kris Dunn shoved Russell Westbrook and Robin Lopez got into it with Jerami Grant. They were all given technical fouls as a cop out. Here’s a video of the complete altercation:

Oklahoma City will travel to the West Coast to play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. The Kings already have two wins over the Thunder. Oklahoma City looks to get one back against the much improved Kings on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. We’ll continue your game coverage here on ThunderDigest.com.

Keys to the Game

Fast break points: A-

The thunder accounted for 27 fast break points off of 25 turnovers and 14 steals. They struck fast and often against the bulls and really left no opportunity for them to stay in the game. When the Thunder play this well on the defensive side AND capitalize on the other end, they are pretty tough to stop.

Free throws: A

OKC was 27-of-33 at the line, pretty good I’d say. They scored 60 points in the paint, and that aggression clearly is paying off with free throws, and tonight they made a lot. The Thunder’s 81.8 percent free throw shooting is the sixth best of the season.

Bench: B+

Schroder and Diallo led the bench in points with 18 and 10 respectively. As always, Dennis managed the game very well when he was in. Scoring when he needed to score and orchestrating a tremendous bench effort that didn’t skip a beat when the starters were out. Overall, nice.

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Thunder drop third straight

The Thunder fall to the Pelicans at home 114-100 for the first time since Anthony Davis’s buzzer-beater back in 2015. Adams monster game and Russ’s triple-double just wasn’t enough to stop the red-hot shooting of the Pelicans.

Oklahoma City falls to 30-23 on the season and now have lost three straight.

Having been in three different time zones within the last few days, the OKC Thunder had themselves back home to face a pretty depleted and injury-ridden Pelicans team. With no Roberson to help protect the wing, the Thunder have had some defensive struggles over the past two games without him.

After giving up 72 points in the first half against the Nuggets yesterday, eventually to lose on a buzzer-beating three by Gary Harris, the guys in blue were determined to tighten up their defense against the Pelicans. The Thunder only gave up 22 points in the first, and thanks to a 23-6 run starting at the 8:45 mark, the Thunder built a lead of 10.

One thing that noticeably changed was the tempo at which the Thunder ran their offense. When its speed up, they got into a rhythm and started hitting shots and getting open looks. That started to slow down towards the end of the second quarter and the Pelicans cut the Thunder lead to single digits.

Sloppy defense and quick offensive possessions by the thunder kept New Orleans close by to eventually start making shots. The Thunder struggled in the third losing it 36-25 and had to stop the bleeding if they were going to pull a win out.

Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Westbrook finished with 16 points (7-of-21 shooting), 11 rebounds and 14 assists. He also had nine turnovers.

Steven Adams with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 12 rebounds. Paul George finished with 15 points and Carmelo Anthony with 13 points.

The problem for most of the game was the Thunder’s inability to get defensive stops and turn them into transition points. The Pelicans got hot from three-point range (13-of-24) and the Thunder would come up empty on quick, inefficient offensive possessions.

Clearly, the Thunder are missing Roberson but for now, they’ve got to find a way to do it without him.

Oklahoma City will take Saturday off and rest up as the Los Angeles Lakers will be in town for a Sunday matinee on ABC. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. Brady Trantham will be in arena for your game day coverage.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Limit Threes: D

The Thunder did a very bad job at doing this. Plain and simple. They gave up 13 of them, no bueno. The Thunder are clearly missing Roberson’s perimeter defense and it showed tonight.

Bench: B-

Felton had five points and four assists off the bench, but got into some foul trouble later in the game and just couldn’t spark the second unit enough. Grant, however, had a pretty nice game with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He was a monster on the boards and brought some needed energy to a clearly fatigued basketball team. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough

Rebounding: B

The Thunder won the rebounding battle 52-41, but the presence on the boards didn’t really show. OKC’s problems came mostly from the perimeter. While they did give up many points in the paint (56) that’s not what ultimately beat the Thunder.

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Felton lifts OKC past Charlotte 101-91

After a less than exciting 3rd quarter where the Oklahoma City Thunder (23-20) scored only 18 points, the Thunder had to get something going on the offensive side. They were able to hold the Hornets to 17 in the third but just could not make shots to gain ground.

Enter fourth quarter Raymond Felton. Felton sparked the Thunders second unit and after nearly 4 minutes of no scoring from both sides. Felton finished 43% from the field with 8 pts, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Not only did he keep the Thunder in the game while the big three sat, he was able to extend the lead to 9 points midway through the fourth. The vet sparked lockdown defense and distributed the ball perfectly. This allowed Westbrook and the gang to enter late in the fourth and extend their lead and close out a well needed away victory.

“The second unit did a great job,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “Ray generated shots for Josh, Patrick, Jerami.”

OKC entered today’s game on a three-game skid. One of the main struggles for the thunder has been their inability to get defensive stops, especially with the second unit. This game seems to be a good sign moving forward regarding the second unit.

With Felton beginning to be more comfortable as a bench role player, it is clear he’s going to be an important piece to this teams success.

 

Keys to the game:

Jeremy Lamb- Lamb finished with 6 total points and was 3-8 from the field, so the Thunder defense appeared to be pretty effective against him. I give the Thunder defense a B+ for the night.

Thunder Bench- This was a really good night for the second unit, especially in the fourth quarter when it mattered. Felton was able to establish dominance with ball movement, smart shot taking and a pretty complete effort on the defensive side, especially down the stretch. Thunder bench gets an A for the night.

The Big Three- PG and Russ were pretty solid the whole game. Westbrook keep the effort going the whole time en route to a 25/10/7 game and George provided 17 points and 8 rebounds. Carmelo started to hit some shots in the second half but was relatively quiet for this one with 7 points.

 

Up next, The Kings @ home on Monday.

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