Undermanned OKC Thunder roar back to beat Rockets – player grades

JANUARY 20: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets is guarded by Dennis Schroder #17 of the OKC Thunder during the fourth quarter (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
JANUARY 20: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets is guarded by Dennis Schroder #17 of the OKC Thunder during the fourth quarter (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
JANUARY 20: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets checks the scoreboard during the fourth quarter against the OKC Thunder (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Best OKC Thunder Reserve:

A. . PG. Oklahoma City Thunder. DENNIS SCHRODER

With so many players out and the need for his reserve unit to focus on defense, Dennis Schroder stepped up to deliver the offense and also contributed across all aspects of the game.

No one play was more impressive than his dribble pull-up bucket to tie the game when he froze Russell Westbrook.

Two specific takeaways arose on that one play alone as CP3 showed confidence in Dennis telling him to bring the ball up court and letting him make the decision on what play to run. That showed Schroder the confidence the team has in him and that it’s well invested as the pullup was the dagger that put the game out of reach for the Rockets.

And, as noted that one defensive play on Harden at game end could well be the play of the game.

He also filled up the stat sheet with 23 points (17 in the final frame), five rebounds, and four assists.

Best Opponent:

A+. . PG. Houston Rockets. RUSSELL WESTBROOK

Thunderous Intentions writer Shontelle Matano reminded me that I had stated I wanted Russell Westbrook to check off the triple-double versus the Thunder but only in a winning effort for OKC. And fortunately, that’s how it went down.

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The Brodie joins LeBron James as the only other player to have delivered a triple-double against every team in the Association. The one registered against the Thunder featured 32 points 11 rebounds and 12 assists.

It was the fifth straight game Westbrook has scored 30 or more points and ninth occasion in his last 11 games played.

While all the focus is on Harden’s shooting woes suddenly Russ is the one keeping the Rockets in matches. I’m sure we’re about to start hearing how Westbrook’s prowess only hurts teams again but to be frank when Russ is running the other players on his team seem more invested (maybe because they know he’ll pass them the ball instead of standing watching Harden dribble).

Regardless of the motivation of his teammates – it’s clear the Rockets and James Harden are in a funk and the longer they stay there the better OKC’s chances of moving up the ladder is!

I’ll always wish the best for Westbrook – he’s given all Thunder fans far too many moments for our memory banks and aside from games where he plays OKC I’ll cheer for him to excel.

Next. Choices loom for Thunder – buy or sell, lottery or playoffs. dark

Next up the OKC Thunder play at Orlando on Wednesday as they finish the season series against the Magic having already beaten them earlier this season.

For a full box score of tonight’s game, head over to this link courtesy of ESPN.