Thunder give big minutes to stars, still barely escape Melbourne United

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Russell Westbrook (28 minutes), Carmelo Anthony (31 minutes) and Paul George (39 minutes!) set personal preseason highs for playing time… and the Thunder still nearly lost to Melbourne United.

Oklahoma City escaped with an 86-85 victory over the Australian team in an exhibition game on Sunday, but not until withstanding a dicey closing. Melbourne United had the ball down one with the shot clock off and got off two shots, both blocked by Josh Huestis.

NBA teams can look far from themselves in preseason games, resting rotation players and relying on end-of-roster scrubs. But that mostly wasn’t the case here. Steven Adams and Andre Roberson also started and played big minutes. Patrick Patterson and Alex Abrines were the only notable absences, and Terrance Ferguson got minutes off the bench.

Still, Westbrook (3-for-10), Anthony (6-for-19) and George (5-for-17) all shot poorly. Melbourne United – led by former NBA players Casper Ware and Josh Boone – played competitively and physically. An upset lurked.

The Thunder avoided that embarrassment and maybe learned a few lessons in the close call. Because of the win, this will soon fade. And maybe they’ll be better for the experience.

But, today, this result certainly raises eyebrows.