By Addam Francisco
Although Oklahoma City started off Sunday night's game slowly, a big game from key players made up for everything against their division rival the Utah Jazz, with a 104-98 win at home. This win marks their ninth straight home victory over the Utah Jazz, dating back to the 2010-2011 season.
Kevin Durant ended the first half with only 2 points, off of 1-of-2 shooting, which is unheard of. At that moment, this game was expected to be a struggle for OKC, but 29 points in the second half off 9-of-15 shooting changed that expectation quickly. At the end of the third quarter, the Thunder were down by only five points with all the momentum. The fourth quarter was theirs though, winning the final quarter 25-20 to push the game into overtime where they ultimately won the game.
Russell Westbrook had another one of "his games," with yet another double-double scoring 25 points and collecting 11 rebounds. In addition to the stats, Russell did what he does best, brought a great amount of energy to the arena, which helped lift the team out of their slump in the second half. Also, Russell scored the first two baskets of overtime to take the lead, and Utah missed their first nine shots.
This year so far has been one of many changes already, along with a lot of inconsistency but coming off the bench, Dion Waiters has been the most effective and perhaps the most improved from last season. Waiters scored 13 points tonight and assisted on 4 different baskets, which is more than his season average of 10.7 points per game. This is a player who just a month ago people were saying maybe shouldn't even be on the team, now he plays a very effective role on this squad.
Speaking of players proving critics wrong... Steven Adams, the player who was doubted at the end of last season, really has shown up this year so far, as well as Sunday evening. Adams has never been a big number type of guy but there's a reason he's in the starting lineup, and theres a reason his +/- was +19 tonight, the highest on the team. Adams scored 9 points and collected 7 rebounds tonight but altered numerous shots, and had plenty of offensive tip-outs on offense.
This game marks Oklahoma City's fifth straight win, and places them (5-1) in the month of December, (15-8) on the season and third in the Western Conference. It looks like OKC finally gets it, and Billy Donovan has his lineups pretty well set. The Thunder's next game will be on Wednesday, at 7 p.m. against another division rival, the Portland Trailblazers who are (10-15) on the season.