New Orleans came into Oklahoma City with only nine healthy players on its roster, and the Thunder used that to their advantage as they wore down the Pelicans and came away with a 110-103 win inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City improves to 7-5 with the win and will be back in action on Friday when it hosts the Knicks.
Kevin Durant missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring strain, which meant a high dosage of Russell Westbrook for the Thunder, and clearly that was just what the doctor ordered. Westbrook dished and dazzled all night as the all-star point guard totaled 43 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Oklahoma City was rolling early in the game, but a five minute scoring drought in the first quarter, which featured 11 straight missed shots, really hurt the Thunder. OKC only hit 6-of-22 shots in the first frame and trailed by as many as nine points, but the home team was able to regroup and go on a scoring run of its own in the second quarter.
OKC controlled the second frame, and turned a nine-point deficit into an eight-point lead before halftime. A lot of the first half run can be credited to Enes Kanter, who played 15 minutes in the first two quarters and totaled 14 points and six rebounds.
Oklahoma City was up by 14 points at the 4:56 mark in the third quarter and appeared to have pulled away, but a stagnant start to the fourth quarter let the Pelicans back into the game.
With 3:25 left in the game, Luke Babbitt nailed a three-pointer to bring the score within three points and forcing Billy Donovan to call a timeout.
Donovan’s decision to regroup was a good one, as his point guard came out of the timeout on a mission. Westbrook immediately drove ferociously to the rim and drew contact while making the layup to complete the and-1. Westbrook then brought his intensity with him on the next defensive possession, as he boarded a Babbitt miss and took it coast-to-coast for an easy layup to get the OKC lead back up to eight points.
Oklahoma City was then able to hold off the Pelicans from that point to secure the win.
Along with Westbrook, Kanter was the only other Thunder player in double-digit scoring. The Turkish big man was able to show what can happen when he’s given 31 minutes of action, and finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Anthony Morrow and D.J. Augustin each added nine points, while Andre Roberson had a solid game with eight points and eight rebounds.
Regardless of the Pelicans’ poor record, it was still a solid win for the Thunder on a night when Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters combined to shoot 4-for-21 from the field. Ryan Anderson led the Pelicans with 30 points while Ish Smith and Eric Gordon each scored 18 points.