It was tough for the Oklahoma City Thunder offense the entire evening.
Two days after the collapse in against the Celtics, the Thunder appeared to be in a bit of a Boston hangover. Both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City obliged to shoot in the mid-thirties percentage from the floor. Needless to say, the game was a hard watch.
That is save for animal-lover, Steven Adams.
The seven-footer was sensational in about every facet of basketball. Finishing with a double-double, 24 points and 13 rebounds, Adams kept the sluggish Thunder offense above water throughout.
“Steven had a size-advantage all night,” head coach Billy Donovan said in the post game. “I felt that the matchups called for him to have a big game. Russell (Westbrook) didn’t take too many shots in the first half and it allowed Steven to have a lot of opportunities.”
It was the second game in the last three that Adams had a big night offensively — the most recent in the win against the Toronto Raptors where he scored 25 points.
“Steve-o is underrated,” Paul George said in the post game. “When we need an easy bucket or a maybe a breath on offense, Steven is always there for us.”
If not for the Thunder’s plot twist of hitting their free throws in the first half, Oklahoma City may have been in danger of being behind for the entire half. The Thunder shot 12-13 from the charity stripe despite shooting 34.4 percent.
The Heat were able to find some productivity on offense late in the third quarter. Behind James Johnson’s 23 points and Goran Dragic’s 20 points, Miami gained a slight lead heading into the fourth.
“I knew it was going to be a hard game for us,” Donovan said. “Erik (Spoelstra) does a fantastic job and our guys had a few days off after a disappointment in Boston.”
All this was due in large part to George and Carmelo Anthony shooting a combined 5-of-24 and finishing with 18 points.
Then Raymond Felton did that thing where he owns the beginning of the fourth quarter inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
With the Thunder down 66-64 to begin the fourth, Felton opened up with a three. He then followed that shot off with five points, capped off by a drive and layup and-one against Dwyane Wade. It was an 8-0 Thunder run and it fueled the Oklahoma City offense until the final buzzer.
Westbrook took it from there.
“I just took what the defense gave me,” Westbrook said in the locker room. “It’s as simple as that.”
The reigning MVP scored 17 points to close out the Heat and pick up a much needed win. He finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Oklahoma City crushed the Heat in the fourth, outscoring the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference 41-33.
In addition the the scoring exploits of Felton, the Thunder bench had a much-welcomed solid game. The reserves combined for 30 points and were a combined +29 in the +/-.
The Thunder now move to 44-30, currently tied with the New Orleans Pelicans for the fourth seed.
Oklahoma City will host the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. in a crucial Northwest Divisional showdown.
Keys to the Game
The Thunder pushed transition and scored 18 points on the break. It’s the recipe for a Thunder victory. Oklahoma City needed to find their way to basket on the break and it worked well tonight.
Bench Production: A+
The bench scored 30 points tonight and more importantly they were a combined plus-36 tonight against the Heat bench. Oklahoma City’s bench has been lackluster all season but really shined tonight. Raymond Felton scored 10 points to lead the Thunder bench.
Oklahoma City’s rebounding skills were stellar tonight. Steven Adams and Russell Westbrook combined for 25 of Oklahoma City’s 51 rebounds. The Thunder improve to 31-10 when they out rebound their opponent on the season. The Thunder out rebounded the Heat 51-41 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!