Bringing Back the Payne

By Shayden Smith

The Oklahoma City Thunder has seen better days, losing the last three games. The Denver Nuggets came into OKC Saturday night to increase that losing streak, but the Thunder had something up their sleeves. A Russell Westbrook quadruple-double? A 30 point game from Enes Kanter? 20 threes from Alex Abrines? No to all of these things. Although, if Abrines makes 20 threes in a game he’s officially the greatest. Anyway, Cameron Payne has finally returned to the Thunder lineup after missing every game so far this season with a right foot fracture. Did his return help the struggling Thunder Saturday night?

Payne ended the night with eight points off three of four shooting. Payne has a much slower paced game than Semaj Christon and brings a bit more shooting off the bench. As much as Christon has helped the Thunder so far this season, OKC needs Payne’s shooting and ball movement. Also who hasn’t missed Payne and Westbrook’s pregame dances? No one, that’s who.

Westbrook had another otherworldly performance with 32 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 assists, notching his 17th triple-double of this young NBA season. Triple-doubles are great, but the real story is Westbrooks three point shooting. He’s shooting 15 of 27 from beyond the arc in the last two Thunder games. The Thunder are still having struggles with their three-point game, but with Russell shooting like he is now, not many people can stop him, and that’s just scary. Westbrook also led the Thunder in steals with three. Is there anything this guy can’t do on a basketball court? I’m still waiting for the day he dunks the ball from the three-point line. Would that be counted as a three? I guess we’ll never know.

The stache bros also had a fantastic game, combining for 30 points. Steven Adams ended the night with 16 points and six boards off seven of 10 shooting. Enes Kanter ended with 14 points and six boards shooting seven of 12. Adams led the incredible defensive performance from the Thunder with four blocks. The team as a whole finished the night with 11 blocks and eight steals. What’s that phrase coaches like to say? Defense wins games. When the Thunder plays great defense, they’re a whole different team… a winning team.

An excellent offensive night from the Nuggets was no match for a defensive-minded Thunder team. The Thunder break their three game losing streak, winning 121 – 106.


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