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Numbers to Be Proud of as Thunder Continue to Roll Out West | February
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I was told by a few people that yesterday's article was a bit confusing. Therefore, I will try to simplify today's message, at least to the best of my abilities.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are on a modest three game winning streak. I generally do not even get into winning streaks until they hit at least five straight, but I feel as if these past three games are worth mentioning. The Thunder capped off their most recent win with another road victory against a playoff caliber team from the NBA Western Conference. This team has actually performed better against teams with winning records than they have against sub .500 teams as of late.

Last night, Oklahoma City took out the Utah Jazz, 121-105, behind great shooting and solid bench production. It was their third straight win against a potential playoff team out west, and they looked great in capturing the victory last night. If you missed the game, then all you need to know are some of the key statistics from the big win, and that will pretty much answer any questions you have. If you are a stat freak, then you will love the next part of this article. If looking at numbers confuses you more than reading one of my articles, then you may wish to scroll down a little bit. Your call.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER SHOOTING PERCENTAGES:

Russell Westbrook: 10-15 FGM-A  //  4-4 3PM-A  //  9-10 FTM-A
Jeff Green: 8-9 FGM-A  //  2-2 3PM-A  //  2-2 FTM-A
James Harden: 5-9 FGM-A  //  2-4 3PM-A  //  2-4 FTM-A
Eric Maynor: 4-4 FGM-A  //  2-2 3PM-A
Nenad Kristic: 4-8 FGM-A  //  4-4 FTM-A
Kevin Durant: 7-17 FGM-A  //  2-6 3PM-A  //  5-6 FTM-A (When Durant finishes with the 6th best shooting night on the team, that actually can be a good thing with a solid supporting cast)

Team: 43-76 FGM-A (56.6%)  //  13-21 3PM-A (61.9%)  //  22-26 FTM-A (84.6%)

* If you are not a fan of important statistics, then you can pick up reading at this point, although I will still talk a little about some other numbers.

Westbrook was the man for the Thunder last night, finishing with a team high 33 points and 10 assists. He is becoming a double-double machine as of late.

Joining him in that department recently has been Durant, who is really stepping up his game from a rebounding perspective. Assistant coach Maurice Cheeks somewhat joked that Durant should be averaging a double-double every game. Perhaps he has taken that to heart, as he dropped 21 points and 12 rebounds in last night's win.

But we have come to expect those types of numbers from the league's best 1-2 punch in the game today. It is the other players who have really turned it on over the course of this impressive streak. Green adding 20 points on stellar shooting is great to see, and will be necessary to see on a more steady basis.

Actually getting some production out of Kristic is also nice. No one is saying that he needs to put up the types of numbers that the franchise's last decent center - Vin Baker - chipped in with some consistency (I can't believe I typed that with a straight face). He just needs to contribute something, especially offensively, to keep the defense honest against Durant and Westbrook.

But the bench remains key. Harden scored 14 points. Maynor dropped in 10 points on a perfect shooting night. And even though his numbers were not as impressive as they had been, we all know the presence of Serge Ibaka has a huge effect on this team.

I am still trying to remain somewhat reserved about the team, even though they have been playing much better basketball recently. They still need to do so on a more steady basis, but the pieces are in place. They currently hold a 3.5 game lead over the Denver Nuggets and a 4 game lead over the Jazz in the Northwest Division. And with the talks that Carmelo Anthony could finally be on his way out of Denver, it will be down to three teams, if the Portland Trailblazers can stay in the chase. 

As for the conference standings, Oklahoma City still has a slight grip on the #4 seed in the West, which would give them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, as well as a possible date with the #1 seed in the second round. There is still plenty of basketball to play, but you have to like the direction in which this team is heading.

That is, until they have to host Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. By now, you all know my feelings when it comes to Randolph. I will say an extra prayer to day that by some fluke, he gets traded (or even suspended) before the game. The only good news is that after that game, the Thunder finish up their schedule prior to the All-Star break with two games against the Sacramento Kings, plus a game with the Golden State Warriors sandwiched in between. It is more than a favorable way to finish the unofficial first half of the season.

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24 as he was recently named One of the 1,000 Most Influential Sports Writers on Twitter.



 

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