James Harden scored 24 points and made 5-of-6 three-pointers in the Thunder’s return back home last night after a three-game road trip. Harden’s “back-to-form” play was of the most relief after averaging just over 11 points per game on the road trip.
The Detroit Pistons came into town and they had nothing to throw at the Thunder. I wrote earlier how Oklahoma City was better in every way than Detroit and that proved true as the Thunder held the Pistons to 34.2 percent shooting from the field while shooting 53.3 percent themselves.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook also had efficient scoring nights. Durant scored 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting while Westbrook had one of his nights throwing up a 24-6-5 stat line and once again looking like a veteran the way he handled the Pistons backcourt.
Rookie Brandon Knight of the Pistons is a player I have seen in person since he was a freshman in high school. He is one of, if not the quickest basketball player I’ve seen up really close. He was described by NBA scouts as a big, physical and athletic guard coming into the league.
He looked tiny and slow next to Russell Westbrook.
Once again, a game like this is where you fall in love with Westbrook. When he’s not challenged by an equal on the other end of the floor, he makes it look so easy and gives you a glimpse of his true dominant potential. Westbrook even took Knight into the post three times and hit two of those shots.
Westbrook thrived tonight in two areas that always lead to good games from him: shots at the rim and shots from between 10-15 feet. He was 6-for-7 at the rim and 3-for-5 from 10-15 feet. That means he was finishing the good looks he consistently gets by attacking and hitting his little mid range pull-up.
My three areas of focus for the Thunder coming into the game were sending a message early on inside on defense, taking away Detroit’s first option on offense and getting out on the fastbreak.
Greg Monroe had a rough time in the game shooting 3-for-14 from the field and was blocked twice, including on one of the opening possessions of the game when Kendrick Perkins was on him and Serge Ibaka (5 blocks in the game) came weakside to make the swat.
Detroit as a team was 0-for-12 on post-up shots in the game and 2-for-21 on shots from 3-9 feet. I don’t know how else to say the Thunder did a good job with their post defense.
Oklahoma City’s defense was great all-around though including closing out on shooters. Detroit, who was without Ben Gordon for the game, made only 5-of-17 spot-up jumpers including 3-of-11 threes.
The Thunder had 19 fastbreak points in the game and the transition game accounted for the highest percentage (21.4 percent) of their offense. They were 10-for-18 on transition shots.
Detroit was not a team last night that was going to win in Oklahoma City. And after some ugly games from the Thunder on the road it was nice to see them hit their stride back at home, especially Harden and the bench.
Oklahoma City (14-3) will host New Orleans (3-14) Wednesday night.