The Oklahoma City Thunder headed into the deep south to take on a team who doesn’t receive enough credit. I don’t know if it’s the name, but the New Orleans Pelicans do not get the credit they deserve. With names like Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans are a young squad with great talent. At 9-10, they are only two games behind the eighth spot in the West, but the loss of Anthony Davis for 4-6 weeks will hurt their chances.
As for the Thunder, they continue to be part of the top tier in the NBA and proved it Friday night in their 109-95 win. Russell Westbrook had 25 points on 50 percent shooting, but Kevin Durant was the star, contributing a little bit of everything. The star forward had 29 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks.
That is the kind of performance the Durant must serve up night after night if Oklahoma City wants to get to the next level and compete for the title. It’s great that Durant can average 25-plus points per game and lead the league in scoring, but that doesn’t win championships. Just ask Carmelo Anthony. Melo has averaged 25 or more points in 10 of his 12 professional seasons and he has yet to see a championship or prolonged playoff success.
If the Thunder want to repeat their Finals run from a couple of years ago, then Durant will have to do a bit of everything like he did against the Pelicans. It’s no secret that Durant is the leader and star with Westbrook as the sidekick, so Durant must act like it.
Oklahoma City’s success rests in the hands of Durant and his ability to score, distribute and defend. If he can average high numbers in three stat columns (points, rebounds and assists), then the Thunder will be a serious contender in the West and NBA.