Author - Marshall Clayton

Jazz 113, Thunder 96: What they said after Game 4

The Oklahoma City Thunder got smashed in the mouth, and let their emotions distract them from being able to even the series back up at two apiece versus the Utah Jazz. Utah took a commanding 3-1 series lead.

The Thunder let the Jazz get in their heads early, and it affected their play all night long. Utah was able to stay together as a unit, and never let Oklahoma City take advantage of any kind of lead they had.

Thunder shot 39% from the floor, and hit just five of their 26 attempts from deep. Ingles and the Jazz were able to take advantage by being able to hit 12 three-pointers.

Here are some key quotes from the teams, on tonight’s Game 4:

Utah’s Quin Snyder”

“All year one of the things we wanted to do collectively is try to generate open shots. You’re not always going to make them, but we want to keep taking them, and, you know, eventually you’re going to make some. We hit some timely ones in the second half. I think Our defense was able to be solid enough, to give us the opportunity to get some more.”

Utah’s Derrick Favors:

“It was a physical game, but we stayed with it, stayed together as a team and kept level-headed. We kept playing hard and kept getting stops. We are a mentally strong team and made sure we had each others back, and got the win.”

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell:

We stayed within ourselves. We always say the strength of our team is our team. I said this morning, we not really worried about one individual comment and think if we get caught up in that, it takes us out of our own game. Our play showed tonight that we were just focused on each other, and making the right play when we needed to.”

Utah’s Ricky Rubio:

Yeah, I mean this is playoff. It is going to be war for seven games. You got to win four, and we know there is going to be another war next game. We know we got to be tough, and mentally ready for that. We are not backing down, when it is game time we know we have to be ready for it, and respond.”

Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan:

“I think when [Westbrook] probably picked up his third, I talked to him I think it was maybe, five or six minutes to go in the second. To your point, we were playing pretty good basketball, and I trust him in that situation. I told him you got to make sure you don’t pick up a silly one here. Would’ve liked to get him off the floor at a minute or so, as I was communicating with him. But he had that offensive foul and it probably at that point in time, took his aggressiveness away on defense.”

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook:

It wasn’t about me or [Ricky Rubio]. Lets get passed that.”

“We just missing some open shots as well, they get some open ones and making them right now. We are going to keep creating, getting shots for each other, and go from there.”

Oklahoma City’s Paul George:
It is just playoff basketball. It’s going to get chippy, physical, you know we in there for a fight.”

“Play like we played in game 1. You know, there just making tough shots and making big plays. You know, as [Carmelo] said, game 5 is obviously a must win. But at this point, you know us three this is what we want. Not necessarily be in this position, but to, you know at this point give it all we got. That is all it is going to take, approach this game like it’s game seven and see what happens there, to keep this playoff run alive.”

Oklahoma City’s Carmelo Anthony:

“Well, tried to stay engaged in the game. You know, offensively, try to still take those shots. That is something you cannot control, whether the ball go in or not. I think for the most part, just continue to stay engaged for the whole game on both ends of the court and not just worry about if your making shots or missing shots.”

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!

Thunder Playoff Digits: Thunder drop Game 2

It was a slow, methodical game as the Utah Jazz made some crucial adjustments after game 1 to come back and take game 2, 102-95. Utah made the Oklahoma City Thunder work for everything, and it paid off in the fourth as Thunder’s big three did not hit a shot from the floor in the last quarter. Here are some key number’s from Game 2:

14

Westbrook, George, and Melo combined to shoot 0-14 from the floor in the fourth quarter. All three got plenty of open looks in the fourth, but also have to give credit to Utah who played outstanding defense all game. They made the Thunder work for everything, and that definitely took a toll on the Thunder, especially the big three.

15

You never want to blame an outcome of a game on officiating, but you have to at least acknowledge the officiating in this game. Utah Jazz shot 15 more free throws than the Thunder, and it paid dividends. Steven Adams fouled out midway through the fourth, and he was in foul trouble from the very beginning. Oklahoma City is going to have to find a way to get to the free throw line more often in the next games in the series.

33%

As the big three struggled in the fourth, they struggled pretty much all game. They combined to shoot just 33 percent from the floor tonight, only hitting 19 of their 58 attempts. It will be a long and disappointing series if Thunder’s main core can’t shoot better than that.

13

Even in the loss, Jerami Grant was a bright spot. With Adams in foul trouble, Jerami stepped up in a big way. He finished the night with 13 points. Grant’s play will be crucial in this series, as he could be a big help down the stretch.

63%

Donovan Mitchell will get a lot of the credit for Utah’s win tonight, as he should, but Ricky Rubio was just as important. Rubio shot 63 percent from three, hitting five of his eight three-point attempts. That makes the Jazz very hard to guard, as Oklahoma City has to slack off of Rubio to pack the paint against Gobert. Rubio’s outside shooting will be a big deciding factor in the outcome of this series.

10

With Adams on the bench in foul trouble for much of the night, Oklahoma City got dominated on the glass. They got out-rebounded by ten, while also giving up 15 offensive boards. If the Thunder were able to keep the Jazz off the offensive glass, this game might’ve turned out a lot different.

31

To dig deeper in the rebounding category, which was probably the biggest part of this game, Gobert and Favors were monsters on the glass. They were a thorn in Oklahoma City’s side all night, as those two combined for 31 rebounds. They got the Jazz so many extra chances, which was crucial.

19-0

As Utah was in control for much of this game, the Thunder had quite the run in the third quarter as they went on a 19-0 run. It seemed like that would be the game changing event, but Jazz responded with resiliency. Utah did not give up when they went down by ten, rather Mitchell and company took over once that happened.

12

The Utah Jazz just absolutely shut down Oklahoma City in the fourth. Utah outscored the Thunder by 11 in the final quarter, 28-16. Not many games the Thunder will win, especially in the playoffs, when that happens.

1-1

With the Jazz stealing one on the road tonight, the series is all knotted up at 1-1. Game 3 will now be played on Utah’s home floor, as well as game 4. It is definitely going to be physical, dogfight type of series so Oklahoma City is going to have to lock down and play defense if they want to squeeze out wins and get to the next round.

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!

Nick Collison’s legacy is more than basketball

Nick Collison has been more than just a basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has not only been a great teammate but a friend, a mentor, and a helping hand here in the community. His impact has been felt immensely from the players around him, and a favorite to any Oklahoma City Thunder fan you talk to.

Mr. Thunder has been with the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder franchise his whole career, dating back to when he was drafted in the first round in 2003. He holds a special place in Thunder fan’s hearts, and that showed on Wednesday night versus the Memphis Grizzlies.

Collison’s locker room bravado is hard to understand because it’s not antiquated within a numeral. If you had to, you could put it to wins. The stability for younger players and his ability to connect on a personal level goes beyond the court.

“He is somebody I always look up to, man. It is a real pleasure to have him here. I just wanted to make sure you all showed him some love,” Westbrook said.

Russell had to pause while talking about Collison, as Thunder fans were giving Nick the standing ovation he rightly deserved.

After the game, Westbrook continued to sing praises of being around a guy like Collison for ten seasons. “I’m just thankful to have him by my side each and everyday. I appreciate everything he’s done for me,” Westbrook said.

“It was cool. It meant a lot to me,” Collison said. “We’ve been through a lot together, and it was cool to be able to have a moment like that.”

It was cool to see Nick being shown the love and adoration that this city and this organization has for Collison. It is way more than just what Nick brings to the basketball floor, but also what he brings to this community and his teammates off the floor.

Like Westbrook mentioned in his pregame address, Collison has been not only a teammate but a mentor. That is exactly what he has been for Steven Adams. Ever since Adams was drafted at the age of 18, Collison made an immediate impact, helping develop Steven into the person and player he is today.

Not only has Collison helped Adams on the court, they have developed quite the friendship as well, traveling together during the offseason. Adams even took Collison to his homeland of New Zealand a couple offseasons ago.

Collison has accepted this role and mentored a lot of the young guys that have been up and coming in the Thunder organization. Not only Adams, but guys like Jerami Grant and Enes Kanter when he was here have been taken under Collison’s wing as well.

It is Nick’s leadership and mentoring ability that has been a huge part in this successful Thunder organization. A lot of Adam’s offensive game can be contributed from the help of Collison. Especially that patented ‘flip’ shot that Steven seems to make every time now down the floor.

When you ask other teammates, even guys like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony who have only been his teammate for one season, they have nothing but great things to say about what kind of person and human Collison is.

“Just seeing what he has brought to this team and this organization, being one of the true pioneers of the game when it comes to Oklahoma City,” Anthony said.

“It’s amazing just how great this community is, and just the love that they have for one of the best human beings that I have been around,” George said.

George mentioned how the community loves Nick, and his impact here in Oklahoma City is undeniable. As any NBA team, they love to be involved and make a difference. That is no different for the Thunder, and especially for Nick.

Collison has developed many relationships here in Oklahoma City, and made an everlasting mark. He has made countless donations, with his money and time.

It is easy to see Collison loves to help people here in Oklahoma City, early in 2018 he took a family on a $10,000 grocery shopping spree.

Collison also visited a VA hospital earlier in the season, building some relationships with the people there. It is acts like these that Collison has done countlessly over his ten years here in Oklahoma City that has made him a pillar in the community.

So when you hear the crowd give Nick “MVP” chants, or the “We Want Nick”, it is easy to realize that it is more than just basketball. They absolutely admire Collison for the person he is, and the countless selfless acts he has done for the State.

Nick Collison did more than just play basketball for this organization. He also embodies what the people of Oklahoma are all about: hard work, dedication, and resiliency. That is another huge reason in why this city adores Collison so much.

Nick has always been the ideal NBA veteran any team would want. A calming voice in the locker room, always working hard and improving his game, mentoring to the young guys and always ready to play when his name was called.

Nick’s legacy will be more than just what he did in the stat sheet, or how many games he played in. It is the mark he has made in this community, in this organization, and obviously with his teammates. It is easy to see why Collison will be one of the first in Thunder history to get his jersey retired into the rafters.

We don’t know if Collison is ready to hang it up just yet, but that last regular season game, it couldn’t have went down a better way. Collison got the roars from the crowd, the love from his teammates and even got some minutes where he played just like the player we all know he his.

When you talk about Thunder as an organization, it is impossible to not mention the contributions Collison has made to the franchise, and the fingerprints he has all over on the very foundation that this team was built on.

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!

One year ago: Russ makes history with No. 42, then does the impossible

It is crazy to think it has already been a year since Russell Westbrook made history with 42 triple doubles in a season, but it is almost crazier to see how much the roster has changed since then. Out of the 13 guys that were on the active roster for that game at Denver on April 9, 2017, only six are on the current Oklahoma City Thunder roster.

It was a big game in few ways: Russ was looking to put his name in the history books, the Thunder were looking to gain some rhythm heading into the postseason all the while the Denver Nuggets had to get a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Pepsi Center was packed and electric. They wanted a win to maintain hope for a playoff spot, but they were also not so secretly hoping to witness Russ make history.

There were plenty of fans in the arena cheering for the road team, but they weren’t the only ones keeping count of Westbrook’s stats as the game went on. It seemed with each Russell bucket, assist, or rebound that the crowd grew with anticipation waiting for him to get that triple double.

For much of the game, it was an offensive battle as both teams were scoring at will. Each team was getting close to putting 30 points up for each quarter, at least for the first three quarters of the game. Denver even opened up the second half with a scorching 38-point third quarter performance.

The Nuggets obviously knew what was at stake; losing was not an option as they wanted to make the playoffs. They led for most of the game, and were even up comfortably by double digits for the majority of the second half.

Much like many times last season, the fourth quarter was Westbrook’s quarter. So many times last season he won games for Oklahoma City that they most certainly should have lost. Not only with big time game tying or winning shots, but with improbable comebacks when the Thunder were down late in games.

Oklahoma City found themselves down by as much as 14 points midway through the fourth quarter. Westbrook was just a couple rebounds and one assist away from his 42nd triple double, and the Nuggets crowd could feel it.

Just a couple possessions later, Westbrook had grabbed those rebounds he needed and all that was left to make history was one more assist. With just over four minutes left, Oklahoma City was down 13 with Westbrook driving to the lane. As Russ was doubled, he kicked it out to Semaj Christon in the corner, who was wide open. Christon, who shot 19 percent from three last season, hit the corner three to give Westbrook his tenth assist, and more importantly the 42nd triple double of the season.

The home crowd, feeling comfortable with the Nuggets still up 10, did not hold back as they cheered and acknowledged what Westbrook had just achieved. That should have been the story of the game for Nuggets fans: “Westbrook has historical moment, but Nuggets get win to keep playoff hopes alive.”

That isn’t what Russell had in mind, though.

With less than three minutes to go, Westbrook led the Thunder on another improbable comeback, this one maybe the most improbable of them all last season. Down double digits with three minutes left, and even down seven points with just 57 seconds left in the game, Russ was about to crush all the Nuggets fan’s hearts that had just once cheered for him moments ago.

As Oklahoma City got one more stop with just two seconds left in the game while down two, the Thunder were going to get one shot to either tie it or win it with a three. As Russ’ career shows us, we knew what shot he was looking for.

As Westbrook got the ball near half-court, he heaved it as the buzzer sounded and ultimately crushed 18,000 fans, making the most impossible shot go in, while simultaneously ending Denver’s playoff hopes.

It was a game that couldn’t have been better told if it was in a book. Not only did Russell get to make history, he also got to hit one of the craziest buzzer-beating game winners that happened in the 2017 NBA season. Westbrook finished the night with 50 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.

It is a game, one year ago, that is still fun to look back on and hard to imagine how many things lined up perfectly to happen the way it did. It will definitely be one of the more memorable games Thunder fans will always remember.

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!

Westbrook gets 100th triple double, as OKC beats Hawks 119-107

In what was a historical night for Russell Westbrook as he captured his 100th career triple-double, the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to get a win along with it. Oklahoma City, without Steven Adams, were able to come away with a 119-107 road win over the Atlanta Hawks. This is Thunder’s fourth win in a row, and fifth in seven games.

Westbrook had a huge night, as he tallied up 32 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. It was a fitting stat line, as he reached a big moment in his career, now just eight triple-doubles behind Jason Kidd. After tonight, the Thunder are 82-18 when Russell gets that triple-double.

It was a slow start for Oklahoma City, who was playing on a second night of a back to back, against the Hawks who are dead last in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta got out to a 12 point lead at halftime, as the Thunder gave up 66 first half points, and showed little effort defensively.

The Hawks fought hard all game, but couldn’t overcome Thunder’s talent and outside shooting, and it helped Oklahoma City a lot when they decided to play defense in the second half.

Oklahoma City, for the second night in a row, were on fire from deep. They hit 16 three-pointers, while shooting 46 percent from distance.

Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 21 points, was scorching from deep, hitting six total three-pointers tonight. Four of those came in the third quarter, when the Thunder came roaring back from being down 12 at half, to up eight midway through the third quarter. Oklahoma City went on a 26-8 scoring run that was over a span of roughly six minutes in that third quarter.

The Hawks were scrappy though, as they kept the game close until late in the fourth quarter when Westbrook and Jerami Grant took over.

As the Thunder were without Adams tonight, Jerami Grant had one of his biggest games of the season. He finished with 20 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He also drew some key offensive fouls late in the game on Atlanta, that helped Oklahoma City to build a lead late in the game.

Even with all that was going well in that second half for Oklahoma City, Paul George went down hard in midway through the third, hurting his hip and lower back area. He tried to stay in the game, but eventually subbed out and was taken to the lockerroom. He did not return, and there was no update given on his status throughout the game.

The Thunder will now have a couple days off, and hopefully will give George and Adams some time to get healthy before Oklahoma City takes on the Los Angeles Clippers. They will be looking for their fifth win in a row, which would be huge with the Western Conference playoff seeding being so close.

Keys to the Game:

Moving the ball: A

Behind Russell Westbrook’s 12 assists, Oklahoma City was able to rack up 27 total assists. The ball movement was key into getting tons of open looks for guys like Carmelo and Patrick Patterson.

Be aggressive on defense: B

The defensive effort in the first half was pretty poor, but the second half was the total opposite. Thunder held Atlanta to just 41 second half points, while racking up nine steals and 11 blocks as a team.

Simply show up: B+

It was no secret the Thunder slept walk for much of that first half, but they locked in when they needed to. Oklahoma City knows they need every single win that they are supposed to get, and that is exactly what they did tonight.

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!

Cavaliers on fire from three, beat the Thunder 120-112

It was whole new Cleveland Cavaliers team than the one Oklahoma City put 148 on just a few weeks ago. This time, the Cavaliers came into Chesapeake Arena and hit 16 three-pointers, as Cleveland beat the Thunder 120-112. Behind a great shooting night for Cleveland, was LeBron James who maybe played one of his best games of the season.

LeBron put up 37 points in this one, and had the home crowd dropping their jaws with some of the shots he hit. He was special in the third quarter, as he put up 17 points hitting from absolutely anywhere on the court.

Cleveland was hot from deep for much of the game, especially early. They hit five three-pointers in the first quarter, and was able to maintain that shot making for most of the night. JR Smith led the way, as he finished with six makes from deep, finishing with 18 points on the night.

It was LeBron’s greatness, though, that was the story of the night. His ability to get to the rim and find open shooters is amazing to watch. He had the Oklahoma City defense scrambling for answers all night. As Cleveland put up 120 points, they did it shooting 51 percent from the floor, with 24 total assists.

“LeBron had a big third quarter, but I thought our guys battled and fought,” Billy Donovan said.

“But I thought the big part of the game, there was some rebounds and loose balls we did not come down with,” Donovan continued. “The second chance points for them in crucial time, was big for them.”

Cleveland was out-rebounded by Oklahoma City, but it was the second chances the Cavaliers got late in the game that were back breakers. Cleveland finished with 16 second chance points, in big part due to Larry Nance crashing the offensive glass.

Thunder’s big four had solid nights offensively, especially Steven Adams who was the thorn in the Cavaliers side all game long. He put up 22 points while also grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds. In those 17 rebounds, 12 of those were offensive rebounds, also a career high for Adams. Adams was arguably Oklahoma City’s best player in this game.

Westbrook and Carmelo returned to the lineup tonight after missing the last two games due to ankle injuries. They both showed some rust, while Westbrook was the one that struggled the most. He never seemed to get into a rhythm offensively, and hit just seven of his 19 shot attempts. He still managed to finish with a near triple-double, with 21 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds. He also just had one turnover on the night.

The big difference in tonight’s game, though, was each team’s depth. After the trade deadline, this Cavalier team was totally revamped. It is now one of the deeper teams in the league, and the bench unit tonight was much better than the Thunder’s.

Cleveland got a huge lift from their bench, 51 points coming from their reserves. Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood led the way with 14 points each.

On the other hand, the Thunder’s role players left a lot to be desired. It was a totally different story than when these last two teams played. Outside of Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City really had no step up to help with the offensive load. Grant scored 14 points while the rest of the guys outside of the big four combined for six points. All six of those points came from Felton, who had two makes from deep early in the game.

Abrines finished with zero points on 0 for 3 shooting in 23 minutes played. Huestis and Patterson also went scoreless.

The Thunder have a lot of talent, but they will definitely need consistent play from their role players if they expect to go deep into the playoffs.

Oklahoma City now will travel to Memphis and play the Grizzlies on a second night of a back to back. It is their last game before the All-Star break this weekend.

Keys to the game

Defend the three: F

The Cavaliers have been on a tear with their perimeter shooting since the trade deadline, and tonight was no different. They killed the Thunder from deep all game long and it ended up being the difference maker in tonight’s game.

Win the glass: A

Steven Adams was an absolute monster, and gave Cleveland something to worry about if these teams somehow meet up in the finals. Oklahoma City out-rebounded Cleveland 51 to 41, while bringing down 18 offensive boards.

Role players, step up: D

Outside of Grant, the role players disappeared tonight, and were just way worse than Cleveland’s. Thunder have some big wins over some of the best teams in the league, in part due to their play from their role players. Tonight we saw what can happen when you do not get the plays you need out of the role guys.

 

 

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!

No incorrect calls in Thunder/Nuggets buzzer-beating thriller

According to the NBA’s Last Two Minute report that was released on Friday afternoon, there was no missed or incorrect calls in late stages between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets.

There was a little controversy among people watching the game, when Nikola Jokic shuffled his feet when inbounding the ball to Gary Harris for the game-winning shot. The league noted in the report, though, that Jokic did indeed shuffle his feet but did not leave the designated throw-in spot which is perfectly legal.

Another questionable non-call was when Denver’s Wilson Chandler and Jerami Grant got tangled up and both fell to the ground right before the game-winning shot by Harris went in. Some Thunder fans were looking for an offensive foul call on Wilson but no whistle came. The report cited the contact as incidental, and a correct no-call.

Finally, the NBA’s report notes that Jokic releases the ball on the throw-in after 5.1 seconds. However, this isn’t noted as correct or incorrect, because it had to be detected by a stopwatch. This makes it impossible to blame a mistake on the referees.

All in all, the league’s officials made all the correct calls late in the game, which is nice to see that this great game was ultimately decided by nothing but the players on the floor.

You can find all the information and other calls from the Last Two Minute report here.

Thunder will look to bounce back tonight at home versus the New Orleans Pelicans.

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!

Oklahoma City uses fourth quarter comeback, beat Brooklyn 109-108

It was an electric fourth quarter, as the Oklahoma City Thunder stormed back from being down double digits, to win the game versus the Brooklyn Nets 109-108. Thunder were ignited by Raymond Felton, who started the fourth quarter on fire, scoring 10 straight points after Oklahoma City was cold offensively for most of the night. The Thunder have now won five in a row, the NBA’s current longest winning streak. Oklahoma City is now also 27-20 on the year.

It was looking like another game where Oklahoma City was going to lose to another lesser squad, as the Thunder could not get anything to fall offensively. Even though they put up 30 first quarter points, nobody outside of Paul George could find a rhythm.

George single-handedly kept the Thunder alive in the first half, racking up 16 first quarter points, and had a total of 18 at halftime, on 50 percent shooting from the floor.

The Brooklyn Nets were on fire from deep for most of the night, hitting 16 total three-pointers. Joe Harris led the way, as he hit all five of his three-point attempts off the bench.

For Oklahoma City, it was quite the opposite as they could not hit anything from deep, until the fourth quarter. Heading into the final period, the Thunder had hit just two from deep, on 15 attempts. For the most part, they were all good looks that just refused to go in.

That changed in the fourth quarter, as they hit five threes, two of those coming from Felton to begin that final quarter. If not for the hot start by Raymond, Oklahoma City is probably putting another game in the loss column. After Felton got it going, Oklahoma City fed off of that which ignited a huge run.

The Thunder put up 35 points in the final frame, while holding Brooklyn to just 23 points. It was a quarter that made up for a lot of bad play from Oklahoma City in the first three quarters.

Even with the massive fourth quarter from the Thunder, it was still a nail-biter till the very end. For much of the last six minutes, it was back and forth buckets from each team.

After Spencer Dinwiddie hit a layup with just seven second left, it seemed it was going to be another special game for a guy in Dinwiddie who has hit quite a few big shots this year.

But, then Russell Westbrook happened. On the ensuing possession, Westbrook went straight to the rim and immediately regained the lead for Oklahoma City with just three seconds left. It was key defense by Roberson on Dinwiddie that finally sealed the win.

“I really thought this is one of the best wins we have had all year,” Billy Donovan said.

“Our guys just kept fighting and battling all the way through,” Donovan continued, “I thought our guys gave incredible effort.”

As for the big three, Paul George and Russell Westbrook led the way. They both ended up with big scoring nights, combining for 60 points.

George did most of his scoring in the first half, 18 of his 28 points coming in the first 24 minutes. Westbrook was a monster in the second half, including hitting the game-winning layup, but also putting up 20 second half points, ten of those in the fourth quarter.

Carmelo attempted just 12 shots, but had some very key buckets late in the game. Adams also didn’t put up many points but his rebounding was huge. He grabbed 14 total rebounds, nine of those being offensive rebounds.

Even though the Nets aren’t a great team record-wise, this win for Oklahoma City is big, as they have struggled against lesser teams this season. This is another speed bump they have now gotten over, as they continue to get better and better as we are inching closer to the All-Star break.

Oklahoma City now has three games separating them from now to Monday, all coming against Eastern Conference teams who are all playoff contenders. The Thunder could get their winning streak to eight, if they keep playing the way they have been in the past five contests.

 

Keys to the game: 

Third quarter: C

The Thunder definitely made a run in the third, after being double digits at halftime. They also let the Nets answer that run, and Brooklyn got their lead back to double digits heading into the fourth quarter.

Defend the three: D

Brooklyn loves to shoot the three, and tonight we saw why. They were on fire from deep, and made Oklahoma City pay over and over again. The Nets made 16 total three-pointers, but Oklahoma City did do a better job of defending the perimeter in the final quarter.

Rebound: A

Steven Adams continues to dominate this part of the game, no matter the opponent. Oklahoma City out-rebounded Brooklyn by five, and pulled down 16 total offensive boards compared to just eight for the Nets. Rebounding continues to be a huge factor in Oklahoma City’s wins and their losses, as well.

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!

Thunder’s big four dominate, as OKC beats Cleveland 148-124

It was a dominant performance from Oklahoma City, as the Thunder destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers 148-124. It is the second-most points ever scored by the Thunder in a game, where they once scored 149 in a double-overtime game. It also tied the most points the Cavs have ever given up in regulation. Oklahoma City is now 26-20 on the season.

The Thunder got out to an early lead, thanks to Steven Adams, and never looked back. They started the game on a 8-0 run as the Cavaliers had no answers defensively. By the beginning of the second quarter, Thunder had put up 43 points and gotten out to a 19-point lead.

Paul George also got out to a hot start, putting up 13 points in the first quarter. He hit three three-pointers in the opening period, and hit five total on the night. Him and Adams both were in double-digit scoring before the first quarter had ended.

Carmelo Anthony and Westbrook also got in on the fun, doing whatever they wanted offensively. This game even brought out some booing from the Cleveland home crowd, as they were not happy with the Cavs lack of effort, especially defensively.

The Cavaliers body language was pretty poor all game, and even when Cleveland had a couple runs, they still did not seem interested. Oklahoma City, though, did a good job of responding to each run and keeping the crowd out of the game.

A big part in this game came in the middle of the third quarter when LeBron got the Cavaliers back within striking distance. It felt like Oklahoma City was about to have one of their third quarter meltdowns, but the Thunder’s big four was having none of that. They quickly responded with a quick 8-0 run and got the lead back to twenty.

Really nothing could go wrong for the Thunder today. As a team, they shot 58 percent from the floor, 47 percent from deep, while holding the Cavaliers to just 27 percent from deep.

The Thunder dominated the glass, as Steven Adams was just better than anything Cleveland had. Oklahoma City pulled down 16 offensive boards, five of those coming from Adams.

Steven Adams continues to be a huge lift to this team, finishing with 25 points, missing just one shot from the field, along with ten rebounds.

Thunder’s big four combined for 113 points, 36 rebounds, and 26 assists. It was probably the best all around game from Oklahoma City’s four stars. Westbrook was at his best, putting up 23 points, nine rebounds and 20 assists, his second 20-assist game of his career.

Carmelo continued to embrace his stretch-four role as he put up 29 points, getting wide-open mid-range jumpers and also hitting the three.

Paul George was probably the most impressive today, as any shot he put up seemingly went in. He had 25 points at halftime, and finished 36 points along with seven rebounds.

As this season has been quite the roller coaster for this Oklahoma City squad, they have absolutely shown up against NBA’s best. They are now a combined 3-0 against the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Cleveland Cavaliers. If you add Boston and San Antonio to that, that makes Oklahoma City 4-2 against those five very good teams.

For all the criticisms Oklahoma City has seen with the roster they have, it is huge to see how they have fared against the NBA’s best. Thunder have shown they can beat anyone with their talent and their hard-nosed defense.

After today’s big game, Oklahoma City will head home and play a very poor Brooklyn Nets team. It will be interesting to watch though, as the Thunder have been known to play down to their opponents talent level. Oklahoma City will be looking to increase their win streak to five in a row.

 

Keys To The Game:

Third quarter: A

This was a pivotal quarter, as Oklahoma City came out fast in the second half and set the tone. But Cleveland made their run, and the Thunder were ready. After the lead got down to 12, Oklahoma City came out of the timeout and got the lead back to 20. The game was essentially over after that.

Free throws: D

Even if your best game, you have flaws. Free throw shooting was just that for Oklahoma City. They shot just 64 percent from the charity stripe. If this game had been close, that stat could have easily killed the Thunder.

Rebound: A+

Thunder were monsters on the glass, particularly Steven Adams who continues to play like an All-Star. Thunder out-rebounded the Cavs by 24, and by 13 on the offensive glass. It was a total massacre down low by the Thunder.

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!

Thunder refuse to play defense, lose to Blazers 117-106

It was another lowly performance from the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they lost 117-106 to the Portland Trailblazers on their home floor. They will enter tomorrow night, on a second night of a back to back, on a two game losing streak. This one hurts even more considering there was no Damian Lillard on the court for Portland.

The Thunder once again, with Roberson still out from injury, played awful defense giving up wide-open looks from deep and too many easy buckets underneath. Combine that with 14 Thunder turnovers and poor shooting from the floor, that will get Oklahoma City beat every time.

It was a pretty ugly first half from both teams, as they combined to turn the ball over 19 times while both teams also shot well under 50 percent from the floor.

Oklahoma City falls to 22-19 on the season, their third worst record in franchise history at the midway point.

It was the Thunder’s infamous second half meltdown that showed up once again, that led to the Blazers extending their lead to double digits midway through the third. Blazers led by as much as 20 at one point in the second half.

Even with Roberson out, the defense lacked energy and effort. Thunder all night long were late on rotations while also giving up many second chances on the offensive glass. They all around got out-hustled on that end of the floor.

“In last couple games we’ve really struggled defensively and that’s an area we really need to get back to” Billy Donovan opened up with. “The last 6 or 8 games defensively, we have had some slippage,” Donovan said.

Oklahoma City was outscored 36 to 25 in the third quarter, and Portland never looked back. CJ McCollum led the way, as he finished with 27 points on better than 50 percent shooting from the floor. Nurkic and Shabazz Napier also brought their best game, both putting up 21 and 20 points, respectively.

Offensively, the Thunder’s big three all shot under 50 percent from the floor, as the Thunder shot just 44 percent as a whole.

The big three had their moments, but it wasn’t enough, as Oklahoma City just could not get stops. George and Westbrook put up 22 points each, while Carmelo put up 19 points of his own. Adams also chipped in with 16 points.

Portland while struggling offensively in the first half, found their rhythm after halftime. They put up 63 second half points on better than 60 percent from the floor. Give them credit, as they hit some tough shots, but also seemed to get open looks all night long.

The Thunder have some glaring issues, mainly the second half meltdowns, as well as playing down to their opponents. That was much of the case tonight, as Portland was without their star player in Lillard, but nevertheless, seemed like the better team for most of the game.

After dropping these two very winnable games, the Thunder are now in danger of dropping three in a row, as they will go on the road to face a tough Minnesota team tomorrow night. Again, they will be without Roberson, and will need to find some answers defensively quickly if they want to come out on top tomorrow night.

Keys to the game

Win the third quarter: F

This one is obvious, as this was the quarter the Blazers blew it open. Thunder were outscored by 11, and had no life after the third quarter.

Defense: F

With Andre Roberson, this one is extra important but the Thunder couldn’t come through on this one. They gave up 117 points, and were just awful defensively in that second half.

Rebound: F

Bad grades all around, as the Thunder were out-rebounded by the Blazers, while also giving up too many second chances on the offensive glass. Thunder did pull down 11 offensive rebounds of their own, but obviously it wasn’t enough to not get beat by double digits on their home floor.

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!