Thunder

Can PG Continue to Boost Thunder?

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Decent Stretch Heading into the Break

The Oklahoma City Thunder started the week of February 5th with a series shutout over the Orlando Magic. The Thunder’s offense performed to perfection as well oiled machines tend to. Seven Thunder players scored in double digits with Paul George leading the way at 39. Not even scoring outbursts from Evan Fournier and Terrance Ross could slow down OKC.

The Thunder started off their second game of that week with the most beautiful sound in basketball– SWISH. OKC started strong against the Marc Gasol-less Grizzlies and the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena were alive as the two teams fought for supremacy.

From missed dunks, (yes we’re looking at you Russ) to PG’s new haircut, Thursday’s was an interesting one. The entire team was in motion on defense playing with enough passion to get a rare one-man fast break from Steven Adams. The Thunder cruised into the 4th quarter with a 21-point lead before finishing them with a mini dunk contest.

Houston had a problem Saturday night with the Thunder in town. PG13 took control early outscoring the rest of the team in the first frame. In the second quarter, the Rockets’ barrage of threes scorched the Thunder. OKC answered back with a 42-20 quarter sparked by George and Dennis Schröder’s dynamic play. Clutch free throws and hard stops gave OKC a hard-fought victory over a hot Rocket’s team.

OKC grounded Houston after battling through a 26-point lead. Once OKC’s careless turnovers ceased the ball rolled in their favor. The defense did its job and stamped the Thunder’s third win in a row.

When the horn sound at the end of the first quarter against the Blazers the net was still shaking as Burton beat the buzzer to cap off a ten point lead. George’s 25 points at the half helped OKC to further their lead to 19 points. Things got muddy in the third, the Thunder’s shots stopped falling and the lead shrank to 5. In the fourth OKC wrapped up the troublesome Blazers ending the game with an 8 point lead.

Even with Schröder and Jerami Grant sitting out, OKC had nothing to fear. The triple double bros were on full display. Russell Westbrook broke the triple double streak and George’s 47 points accented their win in a brilliant fashion.

A big hustle play from Adams opened the scoring tally for OKC leading to a 33-33 tie to end the first. The scoring went full tilt in the second quarter ending 66-63 in favor of the Pelicans. Things were shaky in the third, as New Orleans opened a 12-point lead to begin the third.

No room for late-game heroics in NOLA. OKC goes down even with Russ’ 44-point triple double and 28 points from PG. An uncommonly poor shooting night from the three-point line paralyzed the Thunder in this one. The Pelicans defense was impeccable even without Anthony Davis’ presence in the second half. A snapped streak follows OKC into All-Star Weekend.

Looking ahead..

Injury Report

With All-Star weekend over, the team will have had eight days from their last game to recover from the bruises of play. Expect Schröder and Grant to be at full strength for the last 25 games of the season. Markieff Morris is also due to make his OKC debut soon if not tonight.

MVP Of The Week

This is Paul George‘s league– everyone else is just playing in it. He’s racked up 186 points over the last five games– the only person with more is the streaking James Harden. In the same span, he has a sub 100 defensive rating. That rating is the best of any player averaging 35 minutes or more a game. 37.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists give George the edge over his teammates and more than 99% of the league.

Trends To Watch

The Thunder have found their stroke from three and at this point, it’s no longer a trend. Over the last three games, OKC has shot 36.9% from the field on 37.4 attempts. Their mark of 14.3 made threes is good enough to place them top five in the league. The same poor shooting team OKC was known for in 2018 may be gone for good.

Next Up

OKC will look to come out firing defend home court with a few of the West’s playoff hopefuls this week, as the defensive-minded Utah Jazz and upstart Sacramento Kings pay visits to Oklahoma City.

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