Huge second quarter from second team pushes OKC past NOLA
By Addam Francisco
Wednesday night the Oklahoma City Thunder face a one win New Orleans Pelicans team that resembles this Thunder team just a year ago with many injuries. Four of the five starters are injured for New Orleans, which should make for an easy win for OKC but that wasn’t the case. It was a tough one, but Oklahoma City pulled out a 110-103 victory to help improve their record to 7-5 on the season.
Oklahoma City started very slow tonight and allowed New Orleans to jump out to a 27-21 lead at the end of the quarter, and honestly it looked bad for the Thunder, only because it seemed like they were in the midst of yet another defensive struggle and another one-on-one type of game for Russell Westbrook who came out with 13 first quarter points. There was a lot of standing around on defense and it appeared like they took this Pelicans team lightly like they seem to do far too often against sub-par opponents. However, due to a big second quarter push from the Thunder reserves, (YES,THE SECOND TEAM), they were able to win the quarter over the Pelicans 32-18.
This is very unheard of for this second team that’s proved that their defense is a problem. Well, not tonight! Holding New Orleans to just 18 points in the quarter, and also bringing the team back from nine down on the back of Enes Kanter and D.J. Augustin. Kanter finished this game with 24 points and 14 rebounds which reminds many people of what he did just last year after he was traded to OKC. D.J. Augustin didn't have a spectacular stat-line, but he helped push the ball, keeping the game up-tempo, also shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from the field for nine points along with two triples late in the game to help seal the deal. Not to mention D.J. had a +12 plus/minus number which shows just how effective he was in this game.
Throughout the game, Russell Westbrook put on an offensive clinic once again for the Thunder, scoring a game high 43 points along with nine rebounds and eight assists off 14-of-25 shooting. More impressively, Russell had 20 free throw attempts (which is a NBA season high) and made 15 of those. Aggressive play like this, mixed in with the offensive rebounding from Kanter makes for a winning formula. Another player that was impressive was Andre Roberson, coming off a missed game due to flu-like symptoms scored eight points and collected 8 rebounds, four of which were offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive. Actually, Roberson and Kanter combined for 10 offensive rebounds, which normally turned into a score on the second try.
Although the defense is still a question for Oklahoma City, there’s a lot to look forward to, and there was definitely improvement. Hopefully it’s really improvement on the defensive end and not the fact that they are playing the now 1-11 Pelicans. Oklahoma City will be back in the Chesapeake Energy Arena for game two of this three game home-stand against the New York Knicks on Friday.