The Thunder were fortunate last night to escape Golden State with the victory. They won even though Monta Ellis scored a career-high 48 and David Lee had a triple-double.
That’s two straight wins for the Thunder on the road in close games coming down to the wire. The Thunder have emerged as one of the best teams in the league in winning close games, 4-1 in games decided by five points or less while the Warriors and Blazers both have been poor at closing out games this year.
Last night, the Thunder got a big lift from Russell Westbrook who scored 31 points and had seven assists but also nine turnovers. Westbrook went 12-of-21 from the field, 4-for-5 on shots at the rim and 6-for-10 on shots from 16-to-23 feet.
The percentage Westbrook shot on long twos was especially big for the Thunder. Westbrook can get that shot any time he wants but doesn’t shoot too high of a percentage on the year, 39 percent on the year.
Durant struggled on his long twos making just 1-of-5 but was very efficient on shorter twos, making 5-of-7 shots from within 3-to-15 feet.
Ellis got his career-high by getting to the rim at will. He made 10-of-11 shots at the rim in the game, a very high mark for anyone especially against the Thunder.
Oklahoma City went small a lot against the Warriors and when they go small that usually means Daequan Cook and Nick Collison instead of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. This opened up the floor for Ellis and Lee to exploit the Thunder defense.
Ibaka came back in late to close out the game and provided a better post defensive presence than Collison. I love Collison and his play against the pick-and-roll but when he is playing center and the Thunder have Durant at power forward, the OKC defense is really in a tough spot.
The Thunder weren’t at their best on defense all night and were fortunate overall to come out with the victory.
Oklahoma City should have another easy time in their next game against the Kings, who really are a mess this year.