Another TripDub For Russ As Thunder Roll
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Coming back to Oklahoma City Victor Oladipo and Domas Sabonis outscored the Thunder’s new All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony 39-38...but that didn’t much matter because the Thunder torched the Pacers in the paint, on the break and on the scoreboard, winning 114-96 Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It was an emotional reunion for a lot of folks but George got into early foul trouble and found himself on the bench for much of the game, playing only 19 minutes and scoring just 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting (0-for-3 on threes).
“It is what it is,” he said of the fouls and any frustration he might have felt, his head coach went a little further.
“Clearly,” Billy Donovan said, “there were some calls to me that were really, really tough calls, that kind of put him in foul trouble pretty quickly and probably took away his rhythm, but he stayed with it. But some of those calls were tough for him and he handled himself great.”
The Thunder offense got rolling pretty good in this one with both Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony having big games.
Westbrook has his second triple double of the season and 81st of his career with 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting (2-for-4 on threes), 10 rebounds and 16 assists.
Anthony had a double-double with 28 points also while grabbing 10 rebounds. Melo was 9-for-17 overall, 3-for-7 on threes and 7-for-9 on free throws. That last one is big because in case you haven’t noticed Thunder free throw shooting has veered off into the ditch, hitting just 69 percent of their charity tosses Wednesday night (right about their season average).
The Thunder also got a big double-double night from Steven Adams who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and drew praise from Westbrook about his work in the pick-and-roll.
“Steven is a great roller,” Westbrook said. “I think throughout the game and throughout the years he has done a good job of rolling and using his hands, using his size, using his body and opening up not just for himself, but other people as well.”
With opponent defenders keeping a much watchful eye on the wings with Anthony and George roaming around it opens up some space down low where Adams has more freedom to move around and get himself open.
OKC scored 54 points in the points in the paints and gave up just 28.
But not only did the Thunder struggle with their shots at the free throw line (18-for-26) they put Indiana on the line a whopping 35 times and the Pacers didn’t struggle with their 15-foot set shots going 30-for-35 (85.7 percent.
But as Donovan pointed out, even that stat had a bright spot for OKC.
“The fact we put them on the line 35 times and still held them to 96 points, and I know they are playing on a back-to-back, so there probably is some fatigue factor there but I really thought our guys gave great effort defensively.”
The Pacers were coming off a game in which they scored 130 points on an insane, franchise record 66.7 percent shooting night. 24 hours later the Thunder held them to just 33.7 percent.
“We played well, our principles and our defense got a lot better than the game before and offensively we were great,” George said.
“I thought we took a positive step tonight really on both ends of the floor,” Donovan added.
The Thunder now head out on a challenging three game road trip before coming back home a week from Friday to host Boston.
First up, a return game with the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Friday night, the Thunder are ready to take what they learned from Sunday’s loss and turn it to their advantage.