The Miami Heat have had problems this season, winning only ten of their first 31 games, and Goran Dragic is sidelined, which doesn’t help them. Still, it would not have been wise for the Thunder to take them too lightly: guard Josh Richardson is a legitimate threat, and the Heat have two Johnsons on the bench. And then there’s Hassan Whiteside, who can kill you if he’s given the opportunity. OKC, accordingly, worked on not giving Whiteside the opportunity, holding him to 12 points and seven rebounds. Richardson was as good as his reputation suggests, rolling up 22 points, and the Johnson twins (James and Tyler, who are not related) combined for 33 of Miami’s 39 bench points. Still, they couldn’t fend off a Russell Westbrook triple-double — 28-17-11 — and the Thunder reserves continue their transformation into a viable second unit, picking up 46 points, led by Enes Kanter (natch) with 19. That’s 2-0 against the Heat for the season, with the Thunder winning 106-94, starting this road trip on the right foot. Then again, I was kind of hoping to see Dion Waiters, dealt to the Heat this past summer, but he drew a DNP-CD.
There was one statistical area where Miami proved superior: the steal, ten of which they pulled off against the Thunder. (OKC executed only four.) And there was one amusing tidbit to be found among the Thunder numbers: Alex Abrines went 4-7 from the three-point line. The rest of the team: 1-12. This is not to say that Double A will be inheriting the mantle of reserve sharpshooter while Anthony Morrow is starting. Then again, A-Mo was 1-5 from downtown.
Next up, on Thursday: the Grizzlies. Memphis is right behind OKC in the Western Conference standings, and they’re 12-7 at the FedEx Forum. Not untouchable, but not a patsy, either, and they failed to subdue the Celtics in Boston tonight, losing 113-103, though that was the second night of a back-to-back. Then again, they also lost the first night, 112-102 to the Magic. Can the Thunder beat them by ten? We shall see.