NBA

Westbrook’s Triple-Double Pushes Thunder Past Ailing Hawks

Westbrook’s Triple-Double Pushes Thunder Past Ailing Hawks

The Hawks and the Thunder are no strangers to streaks this season. Atlanta had won six in a row in mid-November before dropping 10 out of their next 11 games, including seven straight after last night’s loss to Oklahoma City. The Thunder have now won six straight games, and Russell Westbrook has, naturally, achieved a triple-double in each of those six victories.

Although the offense wasn’t there to begin the game–OKC scored just 12 points in the first nine minutes of the first quarter–the Thunder were able to grit out a victory in Atlanta, beating the Hawks 102-99. Westbrook scored 32 points, grabbed 13 boards, and notched 12 assists on the night. Although he’s often criticized for erratic play and stat-padding, Russ makes heady plays on a nightly basis that, oftentimes, help to change the game.

Take this play for example:

Clearly, the play wasn’t drawn up that way. With two minutes remaining in the game though, every shot is pivotal. Unsatisfied with his first look at the shot, Westbrook decided to recover in an unconventional way: bouncing the ball off of Thabo Sefolosha’s midsection. It was unorthodox, but it was creative. And most importantly, it resulted in points. Westbrook scored 25 of his 32 points in the second half.

The ailing Hawks had been missing Paul Millsap during their losing streak, but his return didn’t matter much for Atlanta last night.

The Thunder used a third quarter surge to propel them to the victory. They outscored the Hawks 28-15 on the back of a 23-9 run to start the quarter. Westbrook himself scored 16 of those points, outscoring Atlanta in the third quarter.

Victor Oladipo had a rather pedestrian game, scoring 14 points, grabbing six rebounds, and dishing out two assists. Nothing about his poster dunk over premier rim-protector Dwight Howard was pedestrian, though:

The words required to describe just how filthy that dunk was are rather unprintable. Suffice it to say that Vic’s slam is certainly one of the dunks of the year.

Georgia Tech product Anthony Morrow played well in his homecoming, continuing his rash of solid bench play for the Thunder. Morrow finished the game with 15 points in 26 minutes, making 4-6 three-pointers. Morrow, ever the consummate professional and role player, loves what he’s seeing from his team lately:

“We stayed locked in on both ends of the floor. Anytime we had lulls on offense or defense we just trusted the process and stuck with it. Guys are doing a great job of buying into what we need to do on both ends of the floor to sustain good play. We just have to continue to do it. We can’t get complacent.”

Trusting the process, sticking with it, buying in, staying locked in–sounds like a winning formula to me.

Next up for OKC: MVP candidate James Harden and the Rockets return to OKC on Friday. Tipoff is at 7 P.M.

 

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