Author - Marshall Clayton

Alex Abrines named to Rising Stars Challenge

Enes Gulen. photo EFE

Alex Abrines has been selected as a participant in this year’s BVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge to be held on Friday, Feb. 17 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA during NBA All-Star 2017. The rising stars challenge is a game for the NBA to show off their young, talented up and coming stars from the U.S and all over the world, who are either first or second year players in the league.

Abrines, drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2013 draft, is in his first NBA season with the Thunder this year after parting ways with his Barcelona team in Spain this past July.

Abrines was not originally selected as a participant in this All-Star weekend event. However, with Joel Embiid with the Philadelphia 76ers out with a knee injury, Alex was selected as a replacement for him.

The Spain native has been a quality role player for the Thunder since about December, shooting above 41 percent from three since then, and has shown some sneaky athletic ability around the rim as well.

Abrines is averaging 5.4 points to go along with 1.1 rebounds while shooting 37.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc (ranks 4th among rookies) in just 14 minutes per game for Oklahoma City.

Abrines, who was born in Palma, Spain, will play on Team World alongside Thunder’s Domantas Sabonis who is from Lithuania.

He and Sabonis became the first pair of rookie teammates named to the Rising Stars Challenge from a team with a winning record since 2009 (Portland Trail Blazers).

Abrines became the first Thunder rookie to make five 3-point field goals in a game (Dec. 21 at New Orleans) since James Harden accomplished the feat during the 2009-10 season.

During the Oklahoma City era, the Thunder has had eight players named to the Rising Stars Challenge which ranks tied for third most during this span. Of these teams, the Thunder is the only franchise with a winning record dating back to the start of the 2008-09 season.

 

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Thunder Digits: Westbrook breaks Jazz’s hearts

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City went into Utah losing their last two, looking for a big road win versus a hot Utah Jazz team. After a gritty, defensive battle, Russell Westbrook’s late game heroics once again surged Thunder to victory. Here are some key numbers to Thunder’s huge road win:

22

Westbrook attained his 22nd triple double of the season tonight, with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. He is now tied with Larry Bird in career triple doubles, with 59 total.

11

Oklahoma City had an abysmal third quarter, only scoring 11 total points. It was the turning point of the game until Westbrook’s crunch time performance, as Oklahoma City had controlled much of the game since the beginning of the second quarter. The Thunder shot 18 percent in the third quarter, while the Jazz shot 39 percent.

8

One of the bigger keys to beating Utah, is being physical on the glass, especially the offensive glass. Oklahoma City pulled down eight offensive rebounds, including a couple big ones in the last minute of the game that led to Westbrook free throws to put Thunder up three. Oklahoma City overall out-rebounded the Utah Jazz 45-41, respectively.

25

The game plan for Oklahoma City was clear from the start: push the pace and run the Jazz ragged. Thunder turned in 25 fast break points, 20 of those coming in the first half. Westbrook and Oladipo constantly pushed the pace that led to some easy Thunder buckets.

13

Before Westbrook went on his fourth quarter tear, he could not throw the ball into the ocean. While the Thunder struggled as a team offensively in the third, Westbrook had his fair share of struggles missing 13 straight shots. It didn’t end up mattering though, as he finished hitting four of his last six shots, essentially giving Oklahoma City the win.

43.4%

In weird stats of the night, both Oklahoma City and Utah shot the same exact percentage from the floor, at 43.4 percent. It was a defensive battle all night, with both teams grinding for every bucket. Also oddly enough, Thunder and the Jazz both made 36 shots as a team, in 83 attempts.

4

In his first game back in a week since his concussion, Steven Adams was a monster on defense. He finished the game with four blocks, including one on Derrick Favors that led to a dunk by Adams to give Oklahoma City the lead late.

35%

Andre Roberson has had some spectacular individual defense this season, and tonight was another great one. He was all over Gordon Hayward all night, leading Hayward to shoot 35 percent from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc.

11

Once Oklahoma City went down by nine with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Thunder outscored the Jazz by 11 points. Thunder put up 30 points from that point on, while Utah put up just 19. It was a huge turnaround after Oklahoma City seemingly could not score in the third.

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Thunder Digits: Westbrook shines in win over Denver

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It was another monster game from Russell Westbrook as the Oklahoma City ended their three game losing streak with a home win versus the Denver Nuggets. It was a nice bounce back game, as the Thunder had a fully healthy roster with the return of Cameron Payne. Here are some Thunder digits that led to the win:

17

Russell Westbrook recorded his 17th triple double of the season, putting up 32 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 assists. It was his third triple double ever against the Denver Nuggets.

17

While Westbrook had 17 triple-doubles on the season as we just stated, the Denver Nuggets since 1994 have only had 17 triple-doubles as a franchise. Let that sink it.

15

Westbrook has now hit 15 three pointers in his past two games, including seven of those hit tonight. Russell shot 58 percent from three and is shooting almost 40 percent in his last four games.

11

Oklahoma City had 11 blocks tonight, and made it tough all game for Denver to score down low. Steven Adams had four of the eleven blocks, while Jerami Grant also recorded four.

79.3%

Thunder have been plagued by bad free throw shooting all season, but that was not the case tonight. Oklahoma City made 23 of their 29 attempted free throws. Denver went to the hacking strategy late in the fourth, and both Roberson and Adams stepped up to hit the big free throws.

8

Cameron Payne in his season debut had eight points, six of those points coming from three-pointers. Payne will be a big piece to the Thunder’s second unit success and tonight it showed how much of a difference he makes with his scoring and passing ability.

13

Andre Roberson put up 13 points, as he continues to actually contribute well to the Thunder’s offense. Roberson has now scored in double figures in back to back games. Instead of just standing in the corner for the majority of Thunder’s offensive possessions, Roberson has been using cuts to the baskets and drives to the lane to become a lot more effective on that end of the floor.

36

It was another nice game from the Thunder’s bench overall, as they put up 36 bench points. It was a contribution from many different Thunder bench players, including 14 from Enes Kanter and seven points from Alex Abrines.

5-OF-5

Domantas Sabonis, who has struggled to get to the free throw line in his rookie season, hit all five of his free throw attempts. Sabonis was a big part of the offense in the first quarter, and he took full advantage putting up nine points while drawing fouls on Denver along the way. Sabonis had three separate trips to the charity stripe, which was something we haven’t seen all year.

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