Morrow, Westbrook Lead Thunder Past Pistons
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Little used Thunder shooting guard, but fan favorite, Anthony Morrow came off the bench to score 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting and Russell Westbrook recorded his seventh triple-double of the season and 44th of his career to lead the Thunder to a 106-88 win Saturday night over the Detroit Pistons.
Morrow is finally getting an extended run with the Thunder and he’s making the most of the extra time. He played a little more than 26 minutes against the Pistons a night after playing almost 22 minutes in Denver.
Until Friday’s game against the Nuggets he’d only been on the floor sparingly and never seemed to catch a rhythm, missing all 11 of his previous 3-point shots. But he was 2-for-2 against Denver from deep and 3-for-6 against the Pistons.
“I kinda blame myself for a lot of his shooting (problems), his minutes have been so erratic,” head coach Billy Donovan admitted. “But I’ve really been impressed with his professionalism, always being ready and I’ve been impressed with how hard he’s worked on defense.”
His defense (or lack of) has been the main reason he hasn’t seen as much floor time and Donovan wanted to see what he had in rookie Alex Abrines.
It looks like at least for now Morrow is back in the rotation.
Westbrook finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists and he continues to amaze his coach.
“Russell is extremely rare,” Donovan said. “I’ve never seen a player that can impact a game in as many ways as he can. He’s a Hall of Fame player, that’s what he is and I feel blessed to be able to work with him every day.”
The Thunder had three more players in double figures, Victor Oladipo dropped in 18 on 6-for-10 shooting overall and 3-for-5 on threes, Steven Adams had 16 on 7-for-9 shooting (mostly on pick and roll plays) and Enes Kanter added 12.
OKC’s perimeter defense has been terrible lately but it was solid Saturday night, that effort coupled with some just plain bad shooting from beyond the arc by the Pistons led to a horrific 1-for-19 (5.3 percent) long ball average for Detroit.
“I thought we were really pretty good tonight defensively,” Donovan said. “We were much more mindful of getting out to (defend) the 3-point line.”
Both teams were playing the second night of a back-to-back but the Thunder had gone to overtime in Denver’s high altitude Friday night and OKC was playing a fourth game in five nights.
“You’d think we’d have some energy slippage there,” Donovan said, “but we didn’t. I thought we played really hard.”
The Thunder will fly to New York on Sunday and will play the Knicks Monday night before returning to play old friend and former coach Scott Brooks and his Washington Wizards.
After being down in the dumps of a 3-game losing streak, back-to-back wins have to feel pretty good for this team moving forward.