By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
For the first three quarters and part of the last one the Thunder struggled to get much going offensively against the new look Philadelphia 76ers. Even on the defensive end guys were out of position and a step behind occasionally during the first 36 minutes.
At halftime the Sixers had 51 points on 50.0 percent shooting overall and 41.7 percent on threes. The Thunder had also managed 51 points but OKC was shooting just 43.8 percent overall and 20.0 percent from beyond the arc.
The 3rd quarter was even worse but in the 4th things finally started to click.
“We executed coming down the stretch,” head coach Billy Donovan told reporters in the postgame news conference. “Russell (Westbrook) made some great shots to give us the lead. Getting the ball to him in a specific area on the floor we did a good job of executing and moving.”
That had been a problem earlier in the game and center Steven Adams admitted as much during the postgame interview on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
“We kind of went away from how we wanted to play,” he told the TV audience. “Thankfully we pulled together and made some good plays down at the end, but it shouldn’t get to that. It was good that we stuck together and came back. That’s a positive.”
In that critical 4th quarter Westbrook scored 10 points, more than anyone else on the floor, on 3-for-6 shooting including a huge 3-ball that tied the at 95 with 90 seconds to play.
“It’s just taking my time, being patient, poised and managing the game,” Westbrook said about his big final frame. “It’s part of my job, to be able to manage the game at a high level and that’s a huge thing for me moving forward with this team.”
Enes Kanter had eight points in the 4th by also going 3-for-6 and Victor Oladipo, who had gone just 2-for-12 in the first three quarters, was 2-for-4 in the 4th putting six points on the board.
Overall the Thunder hit 47.8 percent of their shots and knocked down half of their 3-pointers while holding the 76ers to 30.0 percent overall and 20.0 percent from beyond the arc.
“The encouraging part was just coming down the stretch defensively, when we needed to get some stops, we did,” Donovan said.
The Thunder finished with game with a 13-3 run over the last 3:26 by forcing Philly into 1-for-6 shooting.
“There were some really good positive moments and there were some moments that weren’t so great. Those are the teaching moments we can learn from,” Donovan pointed out. “Even though the game for us didn’t get off to a great start, we were playing the right way. We were doing some good things.”
Those teaching moments begin this afternoon with a film session and a light practice. The Thunder will also go over a scouting report on the Phoenix Suns ahead of Friday’s home opener. The Suns dropped a 113-94 decision to the Sacramento Kings last night.
- With 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists Westbrook just missed hat would have been his fourth straight triple-double against the 76ers. He led the NBA last season with 18 triple-doubles.
- OKC dominated many of the team statistical categories outrebounding Philly 53-43, outscoring the Sixers on the break 23-9 and on second chance points 18-15. The Thunder also dominated inside with 46 points to Philly’s 32.
- The increased offense shown by Andre Roberson and Kyle Singer in the preseason didn’t show up in the regular season opener. They combined to go 1-for-8 overall, Singler was 1-for-5 from deep. As usual though Roberson showed up big on defense with a couple if big stops in the fourth quarter. He also picked up two steals and grabbed seven rebounds.
- The Thunder took good care of the ball, turning it over just 10 times.