Oklahoma City Thunder 85 - 83 Los Angeles Clippers
The Thunder started the first quarter strong this time around, which has grown to be a rarity so far this season, but the Thunder couldn’t quite finish the strong start and barely lost the first quarter 24-23 on the back of a Mo Speights 7-0 scoring run to end the quarter. The Thunder were hitting shots and flying around on defense to disrupt the high-flying Clippers. Leading up to this game, Ersan Ilyasova was often Billy Donovan’s first substitute of the game. Ilyasova was traded early in the week though. Joffrey Lauvergne seems to have adopted the role that Ilyasova played coming in during the first quarter.
The first half of this game featured the first Thunder minutes of the season for two players. Nick Collison came off the bench in the second quarter to guard Blake Griffin who was abusing the Thunder bigs on the low block. The veteran came in and slowed the Clippers’ big man down. Jerami Grant also got his first Thunder minutes after being acquired in a trade for Ilyasova just one day prior.
The bench struggled to score in this game, but that was the thought process about this team leading up to the season. The second unit should improve when Cameron Payne returns from his foot injury. It would be great to see the Thunder develop a system like the San Antonio Spurs. An offense that can be run by anybody (next man up mentality) would help this second unit tremendously and strip away the pressure of requiring a bench player to go make a play.
This was a gritty win for the Thunder. Down by two points with 4:55 left in the fourth, rookie Domantas Sabonis hit a three pointer and gave the Thunder a 79-78 lead. The Thunder never looked back and remained in the lead for the final 4:55 of the game. Russell Westbrook sealed the win with a pull up jumper from the elbow to put the Thunder up 85-81. The Clippers scored once more on a DeAndre Jordan layup, but ultimately ended up falling short.
Westbrook was once again the only Thunder player to score in double digits. He scored 35 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists. Steven Adams had a disappointing scoring game with just 2 points, but he pulled down 11 rebounds. Enes Kanter shot poorly as well, going just 3-11 from the field for 6 points. He carried his weight around the rim though by getting 12 rebounds. He has not started out great on the offensive end, but he still has a great nose for the ball.
Golden State Warriors 122 - 96 Oklahoma City Thunder
On the second night of a back-to-back the Thunder had a tall task going up against the Golden State Warriors. It was the first game in which Kevin Durant was in the other team’s starting line up.
The Thunder played probably their best first quarter of the season and were up by 1 point after the first 12 minutes. It was not to last however. The Warriors started a scoring run to close the gap at the end of the first quarter and the momentum carried over big time into the second quarter. The Thunder scored a measly 11 points, while Golden State scored 37. This would end up being the deficit for the game.
Scoring was more even in this game with four players getting into double digits. Russell Westbrook logged another double-double scoring 20 points, and 10 assists. He was not efficient from the floor however. He shot just 4-15, but hit 10 of his 14 free throws. Victor Oladipo had his best game as a member of the Thunder. He scored 21 points on 8-13 shooting. Perhaps he hasn’t adjusted to playing for a contender yet, but the Thunder need him to put up these kinds of numbers on a nightly basis, and not just in blowouts. Steven Adams was the only Thunder player to put up a positive plus/minus score in the game.
Second nights of back to backs are always tough in this league – particularly when you’re playing two of the top three teams in the conference. The Thunder got a gritty win against the Clippers and followed that up with this dud of a game. But worry not, Thunder fans. The Warriors, on a second night of a back to back, lost by 20 to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers. Blowouts happen, and they can happen to anyone.
Oklahoma City Thunder 112 - 92 Minnesota Timberwolves
This was a good recovery game for the Thunder. Oklahoma City finally returned home after a short west coast road trip. The first half was hard fought by both teams and was relatively close with the Thunder taking a 6-point lead into halftime. Oklahoma City came out hungry in the third though and blew the game open. The Thunder won the quarter 31-19.
Russell Westbrook scored 28 points efficiently. He shot 9-18 from the floor, including making four of his five three-point attempts. He also logged 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Steven Adams was the most efficient with his scoring this game though finishing with 14 points and making six of his 7 shots. He also grabbed 8 rebounds. Enes Kanter had a break out game to get a double-double. He scored 20 points on 9-14 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds.
This was a good win over a young team that expects to challenge for a playoff spot this season.
Oklahoma City Thunder 97 - 85 Miami Heat
Dion Waiters made his return to Oklahoma City to a roar of applause. Waiters quickly worked his way into the hearts of Thunder fans during his short time in OKC. He did not have a great return. He only scored 2 points on 1-of-9 shooting in 27 minutes. However, Clay Bennett stuck around and made sure to give Dion a handshake after the game.
Russell Westbrook logged another double-double scoring 14 points and 11 assists. He shot the ball poorly though shooting just 5-of-16 from the floor and making just 1 of 6 3 point attempts. Enes Kanter had the best game of any of the Thunder players. He scored 24 points on an incredibly efficient 10-of-12 shooting. He also made all 4 of his free throws, and grabbed 10 rebounds. It was his 3rd double-double of the season. Victor Oladipo had another solid game as well scoring 17 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting. Domas Sabonis got his first NBA double-double of his career. He scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Toronto Raptors 112 - 102 Oklahoma City Thunder
This was a tough game for the Thunder. They were playing good basketball, but seem to always struggle against Toronto in the Peake. The Thunder closed the gap to just 4 points with a little over 4 minutes left in the game at 99-95. Russell Westbrook had two turnovers in a row then missed a deep three point attempt that would’ve made even Stephen Curry blush. The Raptors then went on a 8-0 run to extend the lead and the Thunder never were able to regain a sense of purpose.
Scoring was more balanced in this game however. Russell Westbrook scored 36 points and added 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. He did however have 8 turnovers, two of them being during a crucial comeback attempt. He shot just 9-of-26, including 3-of-12 from long distance. The redeeming factor of this game for Westbrook was that he was able to get to the line 18 times, and made 15 of them.
Victor Oladipo had another good scoring game, contributing 18 points, and 8 rebounds, but he did so on a poor shooting night making just 6 of his 16 attempts. He was 5-of-9 from deep though. If he can get the 3 ball to fall things will open up on the offensive end for both him and Westbrook.
Steven Adams had his second double-double of the season. He scored 14 points on 3-of-5 shooting. He also made all 8 of his free throw attempts. Adams seems to have made real progress from the stripe this season and has missed just one free throw through the first 8 games of the year. Adams pulled down 12 rebounds to round out his double-double.