Westbrook, Bench Fuel Thunder Win
By Randy Renner
After losing four of their last five games the Thunder got just what they needed late last night, a win that was secured long before the last seconds and free burgers in a boisterous lockerroom afterwards.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who was born and raised in California splurged on In-N-Out Burgers, a Cali favorite, for all his teammates and Thunder staffers. Before the burger fest, Westbrook feasted on the Kings defense, registering his ninth triple-double of the season with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists.
"It's been an up-and-down roller coaster the last couple of weeks, so it was nice to chill and coast to a victory," said Kevin Durant, who had 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals to go along with a team-leading 27 points.
Backup center Enes Kanter was a perfect 11-for-11, scoring 23 points and becoming just the second player in NBA history to put up at least 10 shots and not miss any.
“I was just confident tonight,” Kanter said on the Fox Sports Oklahoma postgame show. “I always like mto give credit to may teammates and I thought they did an amazing job tonight.”
The Thunder bench has certainly struggled at times this season on both ends of the floor but last night at Sleep Train Arena they combined for 64 points.
Dion Waiters was almost as efficient as Kanter making three 3-pointers and shooting 8-for-11. He scored 22 and even Kyle Singler got in on the fun, hitting three 3s and scoring 11 points.
"A lot of times our bench doesn't get this kind of scoring opportunity," coach Billy Donovan said. "The second unit with Kevin in there was really moving the ball. It was good to see us come out and play the way we did. It was a nice team effort."
Oklahoma City shot a season-high 57 percent, made 14 3-pointers and piled up 28 assists against a porous Kings defense, which allowed a season-high point total. It was the second-highest scoring game for the Thunder.
"We played the right way. We didn't let the last game spill over to tonight," Westbrook said.
Oh yes, that last game. A lot of folks wondered how the Thunder would respond to that and I was one of them one. Would they come out with some fight or lay down ready to give up.
Monday night the Thunder showed plenty of fight, in fact Steven Adams and DeMarcus Cousins almost got into a fight late in the game but managed to keep from punching each other.
The Thunder were not without some problem areas, turnovers again plagued them and kept the game closer than it should have been. The Kings scored 29 points off 21 OKC givebacks. Cousins ended up scoring 35 points but it took him a whopping 33 shots to get there.
The first six minutes of the game were ugly but soon enough the Thunder seemed to gather themselves and get rolling.
“On the road you’re going to have to weather some storm,” Donovan said. “It’s not going to go smooth from start to finish. We didn’t get off to a great start but we hung in there, battled and got some rhythm.”
“We did a great job of sticking together and playing the right way and it worked out for us,” Westbrook said.
Now the Thunder just need to keep it going. They face one of the most difficult back-to-backs on anyone’s schedule Wednesday and Thursday when they play the Clippers in Los Angeles and the Warriors in Oakland.
The Clips now are just two-and-a-half games behind OKC for 3rd place in the Western Conference.
But that’s the challenge for Wednesday, today they have time to take a deep breath and maybe try to find another one of those In-N-Out burger joints.