Bringing Momentum to the Bayou
Date: Dec. 1, 2019
Tip-Off Time: 4 p.m. CT
Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
Thunder StatusThe best team win of the season came at the expense of the Pelicans on Friday. All ten players who touched the floor on Friday notched at least one point and played a significant role in the team’s success down the stretch. Behind a 58-point performance from the Thunder reserves, momentum flowed in OKC’s direction late in the game to lead the squad to its second victory over New Orleans.
Leading the bench barrage was Thunder sixth man, Dennis Schröder who finished the game with a team-high 25 points. Twelve of his points came in the final quarter when the Thunder was in the midst of a crunch-time battle after losing a nine-point lead in the third frame.
Abdel Nader racked up his second straight high scoring performance of the bench with 19 points in his 22 minutes of playing time.
“For us it will be a great challenge again playing the same team and can we come back and do things at a higher level than we did the night before,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan.
"Top to bottom, everybody that was out there really contributed in a big way.” -Coach Donovan pic.twitter.com/8fnk6cYOWA— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 30, 2019
Opponent BreakdownNew Orleans will look to respond on their home turf after dropping its second game to the Thunder this season. With its third regular season tilt against Oklahoma City on Sunday, expect a highly motivated Pelicans roster in the Smoothie King Center.
“They’re a team that can get out in transition, get buckets quick,” said Thunder center Nerlens Noel. “(J.J.) Redick might hit a couple of threes. As a team you’ve got to stay mentally strong through and continue to play your own game and understand basketball is a game of runs. Regardless of how it’s going, you’ve got to play it through.”
Brandon Ingram lead all scorers with 26 points in Friday’s game. His size and athleticism allowed him to make opportunities at the rim by getting to the right side of the floor where he is most effective. To keep him contained, all five players will need to lock in and show him a crowd when he attacks the lane on Sunday.
“He’s a tough guy because he’s so long and he plays over people,” said Donovan I thought he got to the front of the rim a little bit too easy against us. We’ve got to do a better job there and come with help when it’s necessary, but he was very, very aggressive last night.”
Ingram was surrounded by a stout support cast in J.J Redick (16 points) and Jrue Holiday (14 points) on Friday. Both found their rhythm in the second and third quarters in transition and helped bring New Orleans back into the game after being down the entire first half.
Matchup FocusThe one-two punch in the paint of Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel will once again face the Pelicans jab-cross of Jaxson Hayes and Jahlil Okafor. Adams imposed his presence early over the rookie Hayes by scoring the team’s first six points all at Hayes’s expense. The Thunder duo out rebounded the Pelicans pair 19-14 but were outscored 25-22. Expect another battle in the paint on Sunday between the teams’ big men.
“Me and Steve have been in this league long enough to deal with different skillsets,” said Noel. “We just have to keep a body in front of them for the lob and for Jahlil’s more physical persona. We just have to come with the same mentality as last night.”
Stat to WatchIn Friday’s game the Thunder held the Pelicans to just nine fast break points. For New Orleans who is notorious for their up-tempo and fast-paced style of play, this number played a significant role in the pace of the game. With New Orleans returning home on Sunday, the Thunder will need to continue to regulate transition opportunities for the Pelicans starting with taking care of the ball and generating quality shots on the offensive end.
Thunder TrendThe Thunder bench has outscored opponents’ benches in 14 of the team’s 18 games. Coming into games with energy, confidence and aggressiveness, the Thunder reserves averaged 59.5 points in the past two games.
“We need everybody,” said Donovan. “Everybody’s not gonna be great every night, but hopefully as a group we can be good when different guys are picking up for each other.”