The 1-10 New Orleans Pelicans traveled to Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City tonight and had to play without their star forward Anthony Davis. This was the 11th different starting lineup for the Pelicans in just 12 games.
You couldn't tell that Davis wasn't playing by the way that the Pelicans started out the game. They battled the entire first quarter and had the lead after one, 27-21.
Despite being down by six, Russell Westbrook had a big first quarter scoring 13 points. However, when Westbrook came out of the game the Pelicans were able to extend that lead to nine, but the Thunder's bench wasn't going down easy. The Thunder bench was able to score 17 points and give the Thunder the lead going into half, 53-45.
The Pelicans started to give the game away during the third quarter with turnovers and a lack of rebounding. It didn't help that Westbrook ended the third with 31 points.
Against all odds the Pelicans kept battling back and made this a close game down the stretch. Ryan Anderson stepped up tonight and scored 30 points for the Pelicans and was the main reason the game stayed close.
In the end, Westbrook's 43 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds were too much to handle for the Pelicans. Also playing a part in the win for the Thunder was Enes Kanter off the bench who had 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
What does this do to both teams' seasons?
Well, for the Pelicans it makes an already terrible start to the season even worse. They now sit at the bottom of the Western Conference at 1-11. Much of the blame for this record has to be the number of key injuries. They have injuries to six players that play a huge role in the rotation.
What about the Thunder? Although this is a win they expected with Davis not playing for the Pelicans, it is still a nice one. They were coming off back to back loses and this win broke that streak. If you want to be a good team in this league you need to win the games you are supposed to win. It also makes a statement for Westbrook. As long as Kevin Durant sits out with a hamstring injury, Westbrook is going to have to carry this team and pick up wins. Many critics will say that Westbrook needs to get his teammates more involved, but if you look at the way Westbrook played tonight is was exactly that. He was efficient with his scoring and dished the ball at the right moment.
Up next for the Pelicans is a home game against the San Antonio Spurs (9-2) this Friday at 7 p.m.. CT on ESPN. As for the Thunder, they stay at home this Friday to take on the New York Knicks (6-6) at 7 p.m.. CT.