There were at least two burning questions going into tonight’s match with the Pelicans at the BOk Center in Tulsa: “Can Steven Adams play extended minutes?” and “Can’t anyone here hit the damn 3-ball?”
The answer to both is Yes. When starting center Hasheem Thabeet got into foul trouble at his usual heady pace five in 14 minutes Adams took over in the middle and posted an actual double-double, 10 points and 15 rebounds, before hefouled out in the waning moments. And the Thunder put up 22 treys, sinking twelve of them. (Ryan Gomes had three of them in three tries, in case you were wondering why he was on the roster in the first place.) Despite these obvious assets, however, the Pelicans, tenacious (and unbeaten) birds that they are, would not go away, and with 5.4 seconds left, New Orleans had worked their way to a 105-102 lead with Austin Rivers at the stripe. Then Rivers bricked both free throws, and the Thunder’s last offensive effort was smacked away by Anthony Davis.
New Orleans put five guys into double figures, led by Eric Gordon with 21; Ryan Anderson paced the bench with 18. Both teams shot around 49 percent; the Thunder had a better percentage from the stripe, but took ten fewer shots. And seven Thunder players hit double figures; as usual, Kevin Durant was the first one there. (He finished with 25.) OKC’s still turnover-prone: they coughed up the rock 21 times, resulting in 24 Pelican points.
Last year, the then-Hornets were swept by the Thunder in the regular season. I have a feeling that’s not going to happen this year.