While Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook claim most of the headlines – and their performances so far have definitely warranted the coverage – in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Game 3 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, it was the bench production that propelled the Thunder to a W and series lead.
Often criticized throughout their first round match up with the Grizzlies (save for a monumental performance from Reggie Jackson in Game 4) the Thunder reserve unit hasn’t quote been the asset for the Thunder that they – and others – may have felt it would be. However, during this game, the bench gave the Thunder very valuable minutes on both ends of the floor to keep the game tight, and in the end deliver OKC a road win.
Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler, both had 14 points each off the bench. They came into the game to provide the Thunder with some spark and some scoring and they did exactly that. It bought the Thunder starters some valuable minutes rest and also alleviated some of the scoring load and defensive pressure.
Nick Collison played sparingly, but every minute he was on the floor, he played his role to perfection, picking up a handful of boards and playing solid defense. Rookie Steven Adams who also came up big at varying points of the Memphis series, was once again of huge value grabbing 9 boards (four of them on the offensive end) and getting 2 blocks to go along with a couple of made baskets.
The “bench mob” ensured that momentum was never lost by the Thunder and that the margin was never greater than a handful of points. It allowed Scot Brooks to rest Westbrook and kept OKC full of run in the final term, where they overcame a 2 point deficit to win the game – outscoring the Clippers 32-22 in the fourth.
Now that the reserve unit has proven its worth, the Thunder need to continue to get that kind of support and help for the starters. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been phenomenal, but even the dynamic duo needs assistance – and they got plenty of that tonight.
Serge Ibaka – although a member of the starting unit – really played a massive role for the team as well. He scored 20 points on 9/10 shooting from the floor, and added 6 rebounds and a block. His role was also crucial in the outcome of this game.
So, the Thunder have taken the series lead 2-1 and grabbed a much needed win on the road to snatch back the homecourt advantage they forfeited with their Game 1 loss. It looks as though the starters are firing and the bench are finding their form. All signs are very positive for the Thunder as they progress through this series in the hope of getting back to the Western Conference Finals.
Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder