Thunder earn key victory
Oklahoma City and New Orleans entered the game on three-game losing streaks that weakened their playoff positions in the Western Conference. The Thunder snatched a crucial road victory to create breathing room ahead of two difficult matchups against the Warriors and the Rockets.
Russell Westbrook finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists, picking up his fifth consecutive triple double against New Orleans on Sunday. Oklahoma City started slowly as New Orleans used a 16-0 run to build an eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Paul George got the Thunder going in the second, scoring 11 consecutive points before ending the night with 27. The Thunder took the lead at 8:28 in the second quarter and never conceded.
Oklahoma City’s first victory against New Orleans this season made a huge impact on the playoff race. The Thunder stand fifth in the conference with only four games left.
OKC benefits from Pelicans’ sloppy turnovers
New Orleans ended the matchup converting 46 percent of its field goal attempts and was 11-for-32 from downtown. Oklahoma City had a rough shooting night, converting only 9-for-31 from behind the stripe. The visitor’s unproductive bench was again exposed as the Pelicans outscored the Thunder 41-22 on bench points.
New Orleans couldn’t hold the ball, though. The Thunder scored 18 points on 21 New Orleans turnovers. Oklahoma City was sloppy, too, as it committed 18 turnovers. Westbrook and Steven Adams turned over the ball seven and six times, respectively. The Pelicans got back into the game after Westbrook took a couple bad shots in the final minutes and Carmelo Anthony missed both of his free-throw attempts, but their comical clock mismanagement in the last possession ultimately cost them the game.