By Connor MacKenzie
To say the Thunder had a rocky start (more so 3 and a half quarters) shooting and defending the ball,would be an understatement. However, as elite teams do, they escaped Los Angeles with a 107-100 victory.
Paul George heard his fair share of boos upon his return to the city of Angels and got into early foul trouble in the 1st with 3 fouls. But found his way to operate in the 2nd with 13 points.Both teams exchanged scoring runs in the second quarter, but George had last word as he nearly dropped Lance Stephenson for an And1 jumpshot, (complete with Westbrook air guitar celebration). The Thunder somehow lead the game 59-57 at half through shooting below 40 percent from the field.
The Thunder shot 6/24 shooting in the 3rd, while 6/25 on 3s through 3 quarters as well, and found themselves down 78-82 headed to the 4th. This game was a tight battle throughout as neither team led by more than 2 possessions. When the 4th Quarter rolled around, the Thunder reserves were on a mission to disrupt the Lakers and give a starters a lead when their rotation time was complete.
Things seemed to shift in the 4th quarter when the reserves got some early stops and went on a 11-0 scoring run from 11:04 mark to 6:15 to go up 91-85. Thunder limited turnovers and attacked the rim to get to the foul line when there might as well have been a vacuum sealed lid on the rim.
The reserves, specifically Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroder lead the way with their active hands and sealing up their rotations to get turnovers and get easy points on the break. Abdel Nader continues to impress and provide vital minutes with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Credit to Coach Billy Donovan having confidence in his young players to develop and showcase their abilities in crucial moments this season.
Late in the 4th Paul George hits a step back jumper and contested layup to push the lead 95-89 with 3:46 left. George finished with 37 points on 15-29 shooting to go along with 4 steal and 4 rebounds. Westbrook recorded his 11th triple double coming off a mid court lob to George with 2:11 left in game, and they were able to cruise to victory when the young Lakers without LeBron James appeared gassed and deflated.
Russell struggled to string together consistent shooting performances, after going 13/24 Sunday against Dallas, to shooting 3-20 for 14 points. He did however contribute with 15 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals.
In a game where they shot 38 percent from the floor, 23 percent from 3 and 65 percent from the foul line, the Thunder won by 7 on the road. The Thunder only turned it over 11 times with 22 assists, meanwhile the Lakers had 17 turnovers with 24 assists.