Russell Westbrook finished with 38 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds on a night where shots weren’t falling, but he managed to hit the biggest one of the game. With time running out, Westbrook opted to take a step in from the three-point line and shoot an elbow jumper. Smart decision by Russ as he nailed the go-ahead jumper with 1.4 seconds left in regulation. The Thunder won 97-95 Monday night.
Westbrook tied Larry Bird with his 59th career triple-double and his 22nd of the season. As for the Thunder, this was a huge win against a top five team in the West. Westbrook knew how big the win was.
“They are a really tough team,” Westbrook said. “Especially for us to win on the road, that’s a big win.”
Westbrook lead the team, and game, in scoring with 38. Victor Oladipo followed, adding 18 of his own. Next up was Enes Kanter, who was an efficient 5-of-9 with 14 points to go along with five rebounds. Adams hit a couple of key shots late and finished with nine points and six rebounds. Nothing was bigger than Adams defense though, as he recorded four blocked shots.
The Thunder really turned it up on the defensive side tonight, holding the Jazz to only 23.8 percent from three and they forced 10 turnovers. Oklahoma City out-rebounded Utah 45-41.
The Jazz got scoring from a lot of different faces, as they had seven players record eight or more points. Leading the pack was Gordon Hayward, who dropped a team-high 17 and also hit the game-tying three late in the fourth quarter.
In the third quarter, the game seemed to be slipping away from the Thunder as Utah went on a 12-0 run. The Thunder clawed back and Westbrook finally got going again. Westbrook got others involved, including Oladipo, who’s numbers got lost in Russ’s triple-double. Oladipo contributed 18 points and shot 8-of-11.
The Thunder couldn’t get a lot of shots to fall tonight, so they relied on their defense turning into offense. Russell had four steals and Oladipo had two, while Adams swatted four shots. The Thunder got out and ran the floor tonight as Westbrook pointed out in the post game interview.
“Speed,” Westbrook said. “Every game we have to use our length and athleticism, and tonight we did that.”
He also gave some love to his big man Adams, who he found for a fast break dunk late in the game.
“We stuck with it all night,” Westbrook said. “Steven is just one of the best bigs in the game.”
Next up for the Thunder is in New Orleans against the Pelicans at 7 p.m. Wednesday. OKC is 2-0 against the Pelicans, winning the first matchup 121-110. New Orleans is currently 10th in the Western Conference at 18-27.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
End strong: A+
How much stronger can you finish coming from behind and hitting a near buzzer-beater? Oklahoma City really turned it on in the clutch and was firing from all cylinders, especially on the defensive end.
Thunder money ball: C-
The Thunder did not shoot the ball well from deep. The exact number was 6-of-20. They knocked them down when it counted though, as Westbrook nailed a deep three late in the fourth quarter. Westbrook didn’t shoot poorly from beyond the line tonight, shooting 4-of-7. Cameron Payne, Alex Abrines and Oladipo were the only others to convert from three, each hitting one.
Speed up the tempo: A
OKC forced the Jazz into a game they didn’t want to play. The Thunder got steals and forced turnovers and ran in transition. Utah likes to slow the game down, and it wasn’t able to do that tonight, as OKC’s defense was overwhelming.