Tough Win

Tough as in we were tough both mentally and physically all night. All 5 starters in double-figures was a nice flip of the season-long script of the bench outplaying the starters, for the most part. Outside of Clarkson pouring in 18 points (most of them from 3) the bench mostly held the line. Which is the traditional role of an NBA bench. What was the outlier tonight was how very well the starters played, especially on the defensive end.

It started with Josh Hart who had his second double-digit rebounding game in his second game as the starting PG. He also set the tone defensively not backing down from any of the Thunder superstars that routinely got switched onto him on the perimeter. Josh Hart has grown on me each every week this season. I started off wondering why we picked him and have come to appreciate his tenacity, winning attitude and team-first mentality. He has a little Derek Fisher in him, methinks.

Julius Randle turned it up against Carmelo Anthony and his aggression was a catalyst for the rest of the team. His game comes with some caveats (offensive fouls and turnovers) but he didn’t back down and it was a big part of the win tonight. He’s playing with a real nice blend of aggression and control, lately. Real nice to see him play his way out of his early season funk.

Brandon Ingram continued to show signs of being fully recovered from his ankle sprain and his quad injury. His 5 assists were tied for the team lead along with Brook ‘don’t count him out’ Lopez. Brook has played very well since the 9 minute stint a couple games ago. Been hitting his 3s at a decent clip, but more importantly he’s doing damage in the post. His improved effort was rewarded by the staff with 4th quarter minutes.

All in all, great win tonight. The Thunder are as legit as it gets. We kept our composure better in a nationally televised game. Our defense held strong all game allowing us to win 3 out of 4 quarters against a team that expects to compete for the Larry O this season. A tip of the cap to the coaching staff for crafting a great game plan and an excellent job of the players executing it, competing hard, and for stating the course and not losing their cool in the face of adversity.

21-31, climbing and scrambling towards respectability. Good to see. Phoenix at home, let’s see if we can climb closer to .500 at home. Enjoy the win and let’s beat the Suns. Go Lakers!