Photo by Torreypurvey.com
By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY – Whenever Andre Roberson’s name has been brought up this season, it’s usually in reference to what he can’t do well. From hitting free throws to hitting 3-pointers, the Oklahoma City guard has been criticized through the start of the season.
But it’s on nights like Tuesday when Roberson shows fans and the rest of the league just why the Thunder want him on the court during the most crucial stretches.
Even though he had only 4 points, Roberson was credited with being the main reason Oklahoma City came back to beat the Utah Jazz 100-94 Tuesday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“He changed the game,” Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook said of Roberson. “On both sides of the ball, it may not show up in the stat sheets, but he is the reason why we had a chance to win the game. His defense was spectacular for 48 minutes. Leaving it all on the floor, you seen it tonight.”
Westbrook led all scorers with 34 points. He also racked up 14 assists and 13 rebounds for his seventh triple-double of the season.
Paul George rebounded from a terrible first half to score 21 points. Steven Adams added 20 and Carmelo Anthony posted 14 in the win.
Roberson shot only twice and scored four points. But his three blocks, two steals and lock down defense in the second half was just as any stat line on the night.
Donovan Mitchell paced the Jazz with 31 points on 11 of 22 shooting. Joe Ingles added 16 points.
Utah coach Quin Snyder explained what happened to his squad and how they gave up such a big lead late.
“One, Russell Westbrook, the MVP of the league, got going in the third quarter,” Snyder said. “He gave them a lot of energy and points. Roberson’s one of the best defenders in the league. Paul George is one of the best defenders in the league. Russell Westbrook turned it up defensively. That’s tough. I thought we ran out of steam a little bit. We have to play through that.”
Oklahoma City took its first lead of the second half with 4:09 left in the game when Andre Roberson forced a turnover and Westbrook turned in to a fastbreak bucket. Anthony scored the next time down the floor and Oklahoma City led 90-87.
Mitchell scored on a layup to pull the Jazz back to within one. A Westbrook turnover led to a 3-point play by Alec Burks. But Paul George responded with his own 3-point play to put Oklahoma City back up by one.
After a Jazz turnover, Anthony scored. Oklahoma City then forced another turnover and Anthony tried scoring on a turn-around jumper. It was off target, but Adams tipped in the miss to put the Thunder up 97-92 with 43 seconds on the clock.
That was all the Thunder needed to close out the Jazz.
“It started from the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Roberson said. “We knew we had to make a push. It was a sloppy game from the start, but we came out in the second half with a different thought process. We stuck together through adversity and came out and got it done in the fourth.”
The victory was the third in a row for the Thunder. All over Western Conference foes.
But this win may have been there most impressive due to the deficit they came back from and the team they did it against.
“We are turning things around,” Roberson said. “We are committing to each other. We are sacrificing everything we got. We knew it was going to take a little time. We just have to stay committed to the little things and keep fighting for each other.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com