You are the owner of this article.

THUNDER COLUMN: After a second half like that, OKC looks like a team that can go very far

  • Updated
  • 2 min to read
THUNDER: After a second half like that, all things things seem possible for OKC again

AP Photo/June Frantz Hunt

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates after a 3 point shot during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Suddenly, all things appear possible again.

Following the Thunder’s 108-96 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, that would appear to be the correct takeaway, for OKC appeared as good as it could every hope to be.

For a half, at least.

Exiting Chesapeake Energy Arena Wednesday, the Thunder have held opponents to 30 or fewer points in 10 straight quarters and 26 or fewer in 8 of 10 quarters.

And, given the second half, one in which the Thunder outscored the Nets 66 to 44, OKC put it all together offensively, too.

Even though it was a complete game for only half the game, it appeared to signal plenty:

• Paul George is over the shooting woes that go back to the previous six times he’d taken the court.

• George and Russell Westbrook can both shoot the ball well in the same game, combining to net 56 points on 21 of 41 shooting and 7 of 14 3-point shooting

• Nobody can close a game like Westbrook, who scored seven points, dished five assists and grabbed five rebounds in the fourth quarter alone.

Before the tip, Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson opined about what a fine game it might be, because the Thunder play so well at home and his team would be entering playing well.

It didn’t quite work out that way, for in the game’s final 24 minutes, OKC outscored Brooklyn by 22 points, turned the ball over only once to the Nets’ eight, out-rebounded the Nets 26 to 22 and out-assisted the Nets 15 to 6.

Westbrook didn’t say much afterward, but he had a take on what the last two quarters meant.

“It’s very important,” he said.

It was the most points the Thunder had scored in the third and fourth quarters since netting 72 against the Jazz on Feb. 2 and the fewest points they’d allowed in the third and fourth quarters since allowing the same number at San Antonio on March 2.

The defining sequence came about halfway through the fourth-quarter, the Thunder leading 88-87 when it began.

First, Westbrook assisted Nerlens Noel for a short turnaround jumper. Next time down the court, Westbrook assisted Steven Adams for an alley oop dunk. Then he did the same thing again. Then he found Jerami Grant open for a 3-pointer.

Then, after two offensive rebounds gave him the chance, Westbrook hit a 3.

Oklahoma City held Brooklyn scoreless over the span. Thus, with 4:53 remaining, the Thunder led 100-87.

It was over.

“He creates opportunities,” George said of Westbrook, “and he just makes the game easy for everybody else around him.”

Westbrook led everybody with 31 points, making 12 of 23 from the field. Twelve rebounds and 11 assists gave him his 26th triple-double of the season.

George added 25 on 9 of 18 shooting. Grant added 15 points and Adams 13.

Only three Nets finished in double figures, led by Spencer Dinwiddie’s 25 points off the bench. D’Angelo Russell added 14 and Joe Harris 13.

“I thought in the second half, we played really well on both ends, both offensively and defensively,” said OKC coach Billy Donovan, understating the obvious.

The Thunder are back at it tonight, at Indiana.

Horning is senior sports columnist for The Norman Transcript.

Locations