Gibson and McDermott make a positive impact in their OKC debut; meanwhile, Westbrook nets triple-double #28
Friday night, the upgraded Oklahoma City Thunder held court 110-93 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
From the opening tip, Russell Westbrook (17 pts, 18 rebs, 17 ast) dictated pace as Oklahoma City assisted on ten of its eleven first-quarter baskets. Minus late-game scratch Victor Oladipo (back spasms), Westbrook exhibited a patented ease of manner in attaining his 28th triple-double of the season.
The Thunder is 22-6 when Russell scratches doubles in points/rebounds/assists. Meanwhile, emerging rookie Alex Abrines (19) made the most of his first-career start. Also, in an impressive team effort, Andre Roberson (19 pts, 7 rebs), Steven Adams (15), and newcomer Taj Gibson (12) each shined.
Due to the uplifting performances of trade-deadline acquisitions Gibson and Doug McDermott (8 pts, 4 rebs), GM Sam Presti has enhanced his already noted status as master architect.
Regarding Oklahoma City’s newest duo, Coach Billy Donovan opted to ease McDermott and Gibson into the fray by utilizing both in an effective reserve capacity.
As Oklahoma City began its remaining 25 game slate on a positive note, the Los Angeles Lakers (19-40) continued a prolonged slide.
Though Luke Walton’s young group displayed consistent effort, much more was needed from the purple and gold.
Overall, OKC held LAL to an ineffectual 39/20/42/ shooting split. Second-year standout D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 29 points, as Jordan Clarkson (14), and Julius Randle (13 pts, 11 rebs) worked to remain within striking distance until a third-quarter meltdown decided matters.
Oklahoma City’s three-point shooting (10-24) and whirring ball movement (28 assists on 44 made baskets) highlighted a night that saw the anticipated return of Enes Kanter (4 pts, 7 rebs, 18 mins) combine with the dawning of a new era in Oklahoma City Thunder basketball.
Victorious, OKC is now 33-25. The Thunder remain at home for a Sunday evening encounter with Boogie and the Brow’s New Orleans Pelicans.