NBA

No Triple-Double, No Problem: Monster Second Half Pushes Thunder Past Celtics

No Triple-Double, No Problem: Monster Second Half Pushes Thunder Past Celtics

Basketball is so often a game of streaks, and a few notable ones were broken en route to the Thunder’s 99-96 victory over the Boston Celtics. The first one–that Russell Westbrook did not attain a triple-double for the eighth consecutive game–is disappointing, sure.

But the other one, however, had much more bearing on the actual outcome: Westbrook shot over 50% for the first time in 10 games, dating back to November 18th’s game with Brooklyn. He shot under 40% during that span, but posted an efficient 14-26 shooting night against the Celtics.

“Just taking shots I wanted to take, that was the most important part,” he said. “And playing from the block. That’s the most important part. I talked to my dad this morning, and he got on me about not using that to my advantage, and I definitely tried to do more of that tonight.”

Any questions about which streak was more important to Westbrook?

“Honestly, I’m just happy we won tonight,” he said. “That’s the most important thing. As a player, I always try to look forward. Maybe at the end of the season, I can talk about it, but as of right now, my job is to move forward and get ready for Portland.”

This heady play by Westbrook gave the Thunder the lead late in the fourth:

 

The trend of the Thunder’s season has been playing to the level of their opponent, and it continued last night against Boston. The Thunder were down 13 at the end of the third quarter when Billy Donovan trotted out his most unconventional lineup of the season: Semaj Christon, Alex Abrines, Kyle Singler, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Enes Kanter all took the floor at the same time. Behind by double digits, the bench unit is to be credited with tying the game back up in the fourth quarter. The Thunder bench scored 38 points on the night.

Victor Oladipo suffered a scary fall late in the first quarter while contesting a Jonas Jerebko corner three. Oladipo sold out hard on Jerebko, but the Celtics forward hit Oladipo with a pump fake. It amounted to Oladipo’s foot striking Jerebko’s shoulder, and Vic hit the ground hard. It was patently not a dirty play, simply a freak accident of basketball. Oladipo was down for nearly five minutes, and didn’t return from the locker room for the duration of the game. He was diagnosed with a sprained right wrist and is day-to-day. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss a game or two. 

The Thunder lucked out with with Oladipo’s minor injury, but missing him for any amount of time is a scary prospect.

Backup guard Semaj Christon did not have a big impact on the box score (nine points, two assists, two steals), but Billy Donovan decided to keep him in the game for the final 14 minutes. He provided tough defense, notching two steals, but most importantly, Christon did not turn the ball over in his 20 minutes of play. Expect to so a lot more of Christon in Oladipo’s absence.

Christon made a nice play on this possession late in the fourth quarter, finding his teammate Steven Adams and avoiding the midcourt trap. Adams mailed it to Jerami Grant, who put an exclamation mark on the Thunder’s victory:

 

“He made really smart decisions,” Adams said about his teammate. “Obviously he’s capable of it, but he made really good reads and made some big plays down at the end.”

Adams ended the game with 16 points and eight boards. The Thunder outmuscled the Celtics in the paint, outscoring them 66-52 and outrebounding them by 10 boards.

“We had high energy on our defense and at halftime we tried to make sure we reciprocate on the offensive end,” Adams said. “That’s what we did. We kind of stuck to it, with what we were doing. The lads were disciplined and high energy, and we came out on top.”

The Thunder improve to 15-9, while the Celtics fall to 13-11. Next up for OKC: they travel to Portland to take on their divisional rival–the Trailblazers. Tipoff is tomorrow evening at 9:30 CST.

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