Yes, Russell Westbrook nearly triple-doubled again. Yes, Nikola Jokic came closer to a triple-double than Russ, if you can believe that.
3Dennis Schroder – 31 Points, 8 Assists, 5 Rebounds
So far, the Atlanta Hawks‘ transition from Jeff Teague to Schroder has been seamless. The 23-year-old German posted his third 30-point game this year, and it was one of his best performances to date.
His three-point shot was a bit lacking, but Schroder utilized his quickness to slash to the basket routinely, and he was awarded ten free throws by the end of the contest — he hit all of them. All of Oklahoma City’s defenders had issues staying in front of Schroder, and his knock down mid-range jump shot was an added dynamic they had to worry about.
He also looked very comfortable out of the pick-and-roll and found Paul Millsap (30 points) on multiple drives to the basket.
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2Nikola Jokic – 27 Points, 15 Rebounds, 9 Assists
It’s true: Jokic finished just one assist shy of a triple-double. It was his second 27-point game against the Dallas Mavericks over the last seven days, and the sophomore center was everywhere for the Denver Nuggets.
He was in the post, above the free throw line and even out beyond the three scoring and facilitating. Most of his buckets came off pick-and-rolls, and Emmanuel Mudiay did a superb job threading the needle with his pocket passes; even the ones that were off, Jokic put his soft hands on display.
While Jokic didn’t dominate the block by any means, he took advantage of any mismatches and made the right play when the defense collapsed on him. Because Jokic drew so much attention from Dallas, Denver was able to get their fair share of easy buckets.
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1Russell Westbrook – 46 Points, 11 Rebounds, 7 Assists
Even with his inflated the stat line, the Hawks took the Thunder down to the wire and pulled off a miraculous victory. Despite that, Westbrook was the best player on the court. Not only was he scoring in volume, but he also did so with efficiency. By the end of the night, Russ was 16-of-33 from the field, and that includes a paltry 3-of-10 from three.
The Hawks did an excellent job keeping the rest of the Thunder as disengaged as possible. Russ had issues getting teammates involved and finished with just seven assists; OKC had 13 as a team. Atlanta adopted a mentality where Westbrook would need to beat them by himself. And he nearly did.
Russ tallied 11 points (and just one assist) in the final frame and nearly sent the game to overtime on two of his last three shots. His third attempt, a three that looked like a questionable no-call, would’ve won the game for Oklahoma City.
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