OKLAHOMA CITY – When the Thunder has begun to find some balance after a difficult start, center Steven Adams has become a secondary option to support Russell Westbrook, averaging 22 points per game by almost 80 percent during the shooting. The three-win streak of the Thunder.
The reason for its appearance? According to coach Billy Donovan, they are Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
"I think people really have problems," Donovan said when asked why Adams had taken such an offensive approach. "That's the greatness, for me, of Carmelo Anthony, the reason why Steven Adams is doing what he does is for Carmelo Anthony and Paul George."
Adams finished with 20 points on 9 of 10 shots in the Thunder 100-94 wins the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. In an impressive 17-point comeback, crowned by a 32-14 run in the fourth quarter, Adams had a critical comeback with 43 seconds left to put the Thunder five up. Meanwhile, Anthony struggled for much of the game, starting 2-for-13 from the floor before connecting four of his last six shots. George did the same, scoring just three points with 1 of 5 shots in the first half and then 18 with 6 of 8 shots in the second.
"I think a lot of people do not see, they look at Carmelo and think: & # 39; Oh, he's only taken seven or eight shots in two games, and they miss the big picture of what the guy has done for Steven Adams, "Donovan said. "It should be a point for Steven and a point for Carmelo, a point for Steve, a point for Paul, it's a team, I think you all benefit from each other when you're on the ground and playing the right way. "
In the previous two games, against the Timberwolves and the Spurs, Anthony attempted a total of 17 shots, and for the first time in his career he scored in individual digits in consecutive games. Anthony made a clear and deliberate effort to make additional passes and resist bridges of low efficiency without paint. George and Donovan spoke after Sunday's game about Anthony's sacrifice, with Anthony saying he is willing to do whatever the team needs him.
"For me, personally, it's about doing something different, seeing where the team really needs me tonight," Anthony said Sunday. "And just be willing to do that and be willing to sacrifice, not every night you have to score 20 or 30 points, and I'm fine with that, it's a good feeling as long as we win."
Down However, the Thunder looked for Anthony when he scored eight of his 14 in the last five and a half minutes.
"We took our time and executed our play," Anthony said. "We found something that worked, we stayed with it and we made the adjustment."
Donovan also made sure to commend Adams for his improvement, saying Adams had the best summer he's seen since becoming a coach three years ago. But the message was strong and clear: the Thunder play in the best way when they take advantage of the space provided by their stars, not when they force the problem.
"Every game that passes gives you new information and I think that for us it's information, if you look at us scoring 61 points [in the second half] it's really about shooting," Donovan said. "I have great respect for every man in this team and for their offensive ability, but sometimes we have to go back a few things, although I know we know it, you can do it at a certain time, sometimes it's better to avoid that knowing that you can Even later, he'll come back, and I think it's just a matter of these guys seeing what our formula is for how we have to play. "
Thunder played a sloppy, disjointed first half that featured only 39 points and 15 turnovers, but found a small spark in the third quarter of Westbrook. He scored seven points in a row, then placed Adams for a plate and then returned the favor to Adams in a backdoor cut for a dunk. Westbrook had 11 of his 34 in the third, plus four assists. He finished with his seventh triple-double of the season, 34-13-14 in 38 minutes.
"Russ had a winning attitude at all costs," said George. "I felt we were not going to lose that game the way he impacted that stretch."
Westbrook marked the return, but in the last five minutes, he prepared and focused on running the offense through Anthony taking advantage of mismatches in the middle post, or George working off the ball. At the moment of truth, Westbrook took only two shots, scored one and had four assists.
"It's satisfying that we won, man," Westbrook said when asked if he found satisfaction in the diversity of the offense in crunchtime. . "That's the most important part, we collectively got a victory and we were able to do what we needed defensively and offensively."
The Thunder improved to 11-12 and after fighting to win closed games during the first month and half, they won their last three points by six points or less.
"When we commit to play 48 minutes moving the ball, generating good shots, regardless of the time," Donovan said, "that's when I think" we are at our best "