By Connor MacKenzie @grandepadre94
Oklahoma City got another stellar performance from their All Stars and balanced contributions from their heralded supporting cast. Westbrook notched his 8th triple double in a row recording 15 points, 15 assists, and 13 rebounds, breaking a tie with Michael Jordan for second most, and now trailing only Wilt Chamberlain who leads all time with 9.
It appears that with how often Westbrook achieves a triple double, its value diminishes because many folks will expect it and write it off. This is a moment in the NBA that people will not see for quite some time. The records that Westbrook is shattering are of current Hall of Fame, once in a generational caliber players. It is something worth marveling and recognizing how truly special of a talent that Russell is. On top of the performance by Westbrook, Paul George continues to put the ball in the basket with ease as he contributed 27 points while Jerami Grant dropped in with 20.
The depleted Grizzlies came out with a lot of energy and lead the game 53-51 at half. Due to trades executed over the last 24 hours and even today, the Grizzlies were incredibly undermanned and will be until their new players such as CJ Miles and Jonas Valanciunas arrive.
Rookie standout Jaren Jackson jr. had a great game of 27 points on an impressive 12-18 shooting.
The Thunder again shot at a prolific clip of 17-44 from deep. Whats great about this Thunder team is their ability to take timely 3s, in rhythm and not forcing up a terrible shot. Now while there were instances of one-pass possessions in the first half, the Thunder executed and adjusted in the 3rd to take the lead and never look back.
OKC forced 24 Memphis turnovers and limited them to 19 assists.
Enough cannot be stated about these 3rd Quarter runs that OKC has been on this season. Billy Donovan deserves a lot of credit for the staggered rotations of Russ and PG, along with his defensive adjustments he makes in game. Ultimately, the players have bought into the system and work to get each teammate an open look. The best part is the increasing confidence of the role players for Oklahoma City.
Terrance Ferguson when asked about shooting more, “oh i got to. Russ said he’s gonna beat me up if i stop shooting.” The kid from Tulsa who would hesitate to shoot or drive the ball, is now surging with confidence to score the basketball. He appears ahead of schedule and will most assuredly rise to the occasion when called.
OKC bench contributed 34 points, led by Dennis Schroder (shocker) with 16.
The Thunder’s next contest is the rubber match between a fellow conference heavyweight at Houston on Saturday night on prime time. When asked about the matchup, Paul George had this to say, “I’m looking forward to the matchup, as Im sure he is as well. It’s always fun going against James. I wont get into details, I’ll be ready Saturday though.”