As I predicted in an article I wrote prior to the game, the Oklahoma City Thunder ended the San Antonio Spurs‘ winning streak last night in a tightly played 94-88 game. This win may come to a surprise to many, but it’s exactly what I expected from this blossoming OKC team. The Thunder outplayed the Spurs in almost every facet of the game. They finished the game with more rebounds, assists, blocks and a higher field-goal percentage. Still, the biggest contribution came from the Thunder’s bench.
Russell Westbrook had his worst game since returning from injury, making room for Reggie Jackson to pick up the slack. Jackson did that and more, hitting multiple clutch shots on his way to a season-high of 24 points. I doubt we’ll see Jackson taking over the starting role at point guard, but it’s extremely refreshing to see such a great performance from him. Westbrook will have more games like the one last night, but the Thunder won’t be in that much trouble if they can get that type of production from Jackson. He was also named player of the game; it’s not often someone not named Durant or Westbrook takes home those honors.
Jeremy Lamb was also a key contributor off of the bench — scoring 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in only 20 minutes of play. This kid is growing more and more confident has time passes and he’s proving that on the court. Performances in big games will earn you more respect opposed to a so-so output against less-worthy opponents. I’m extremely happy to see these two guys — Jackson and Lamb — go out there and next a step to up to the next level. The Thunder bench of course couldn’t do it alone. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka continued their outstanding play as well. Durant finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds while Ibaka put up 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks on the night.
The Thunder have shaken off most of the doubt that came after a shaky start against elite NBA teams. Since losing back-to-back games to the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, the Thunder haven’t lost a game – winning five straight and knocking off a few elite squads on the way. It’s evident that this team should be mentioned as one of the league’s best. If you don’t believe it yet, they’ll have another chance to get your vote if they can win their next big game on Friday night against the Warriors. If the bench can continue their solid play then there’s no reason that OKC can’t walk all over the Warriors en route to their sixth straight victory.