The Big Three roared in Sacramento, Thunder beat Kings: Five Thoughts
By: Alberto Bodei, Staff Writer
Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Sacramento Kings for the first time this season, 132-113 the final score.
After losing the first two games of the season against the Kings, the Thunder bounced back to finally beat the team from California.
The first quarter has been an offensive battle, with both teams scoring at will, while defenses were still sleeping. Oklahoma City took over in the second quarter, and gain a big lead thanks to a 17-2 run. The Thunder finished the first half with a nineteen points lead. Despite being one of the best “third-quarter” teams, Oklahoma City came out flat after the long break, and the Kings took advantage of it. Led by Buddy Hield, Sacramento was able to get back into the game and to cut the disadvantage to only nine points entering the last quarter of action.
However, after getting close as much as eight points, that was it for the Kings. Paul George took over again in the fourth period, and Sacramento wasn’t able to answer at a high level as they did in the third quarter.
With this important win and the Warriors’ lost, the Thunder are now second in the Western Conference with a record of 20-10.
Paul George, unstoppable
Defenders can try, but I am not sure they can do much to stop Paul George right now. Yesterday, he finished with forty-three points (15-27 FG, 4-8 3PT, 9-10 FT), twelve rebounds, seven assists, and five turnovers. Once again George looked smooth on offense while not giving up anything on defense. Each game he looks more comfortable while playing alongside Westbrook and this is a big plus for the Thunder. During the month of December, Paul George is averaging 30.1 points per game (51.4% FG, 44.7 3PT, 84.6% FT), 8.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. MVP production.
Russell Westbrook, Fast
Russell Westbrook is still very fast, and he made it clear last night. The evolution of Westbrook as a team player is fascinating and interesting to watch. Against the Kings, Rusell had another incredible game: nineteen points (8-19 FG, 1-5 3PT, 2-7 FT), eleven rebounds, seventeen assists, six steals, and five turnovers. He found some rhythm on offense while attacking the rim, while is defense has been great. He is collecting a high number of steals, which feels more natural than due to gambling in the passing lane. Once Westbrook becomes familiar with the role he is playing right now on offense, this team will be even more dangerous.
Steven Adams, Outstanding
Game after game, Steven Adams is making his case to be an All-Star this season. Last night, he finished for the first time with a 20-20 game: twenty points and twenty-three rebounds to be exact (nine coming on offense). So far there haven’t been many centers who can slow Adams down, and he is definitely taking advantage of that. The team is looking more and more for him on offense, and he keeps on producing. So far, in the month of December, Adams is averaging 20.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Outstanding.
I thought all the team played a good game. Obviously, Westbrook, Pg, and Adams will get all the praise (rightfully so), but people should spend some words on how the rest of the team played last night. Jerami Grant had a lowkey outstanding game: twenty-two points (9-11 FG, 2-2 3PT, 2-6 FT), two rebounds, one assist, and one block. His production on both ends of the floor has been great once again. Both Ferguson (fourteen points) and Abrines (nine points) haven’t been afraid to take shots on offense and to be solid defenders. When we talk about solid defenders we need to add also Nerlens Noel to the conversation: the big man was once again the anchor in the paint with the second unit with four rebounds and three blocks.
No Backups? No Problem
First of all, let me tell you something: suspending Schröder and Felton was a bad decision. I understand that there is a rule which says that players can not leave the bench during an on-court altercation, but the rule should be flexible in case the players are just trying to break up the scuffle. This was the case against the Bulls when both Dennis and Raymond tired to be the peacemakers while leaving the bench area. Nevertheless, the Thunder were able to adjust, and Donovan alternated Russell Westbrook and Paul George (with a little bit of Abrines as well) as playmakers. It worked just fine for a one-game situation.
The Thunder will play in Utah against the Jazz on Friday night, tip-off 8 pm CT.