Usually, the NBA preseason doesn’t get much hype because a lot of star players sit out. This season the NBA has tried out making the preseason schedules shorter. This would be good for most teams that have the same core group but not for a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder who have All-Stars to try and build chemistry with. The Thunder faced off against the Houston Rockets at the BOK Center and it showed that OKC still is trying to get used to having Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder were playing without the MVP Russell Westbrook as he is still nursing his left knee injection but did workout prior to the game and looked really good.
Carmelo Anthony and Paul George led the charge for the OKC Thunder as they were trying to gel together. Carmelo Anthony started off his Thunder career scoring the teams first 10 points in the game. It was a good sight to see for Thunder fans because, when you need an instant bucket the Thunder went to Melo in the paint. Carmelo looked extremely good in the game and was hitting his fadeaway jumpers and was bullying his way to the basket as well. It took Paul George a little bit of time to get going which is understandable when you come from being the guy with the ball at all times in Indiana. George was able to get it going and was playing some serious defense on James Harden throughout the game and even got his offensive game going as well. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for 34 points in only 45 minutes action combined.
The Thunder team as a whole still need to build more chemistry but that will happen over time with Russell Westbrook coming back after his knee heals. Raymond Felton played a great game and was able to get everyone involved in the offense. The backup point guard spot has been a toss-up because Felton had 9 points and Canaan had 11 points but Semaj didn’t get to play at all. That’s going to be a dog fight for playing time at that position but for now, all of the players have been making the best of the moment. The backup point guard position will play a huge part in the success of the Thunder this season. Steven Adams had a strong game and got banged up a little bit when going up against Capela and Harden. Steven Adams will be fine as the Thunder gave him some pain meds and expects to play on Friday against the Pelicans.
The Houston Rockets were out here playing like it was May already as they hit 24 of 55 (3 Pointers) against the Thunder. It was a clear indication that the addition of CP3 was definitely what they needed as a team. Chris Paul set the tone on the defensive end and on the offensive end for the Rockets. CP3 finished with 11 points and 7 assists on the night but this could become something even more special the way he clicked with Harden. James Harden 16 points and 10 assists on the night was able to play the point guard position freely. The Houston Rockets bench was hitting everything that they put up from 3 point land as Ariza & Gordon finished with 39 points combined. The Rockets were going up an OKC team without Westbrook and also OKC is trying to find their identity as a team with the new pieces. The Rockets team has been together for a while now and just adding CP3 who’s already a leader was perfect for them so far.
The Thunder will play the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday in OKC and will look to bounce back against Cousins, Davis, Holiday, and Rondo. Should be interesting to see who starts at point guard and if Russell Westbrook comes back or if OKC fans will have to wait a little bit more to see the reigning MVP.
Photo Credit: Left and right: Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press