Oklahoma City – The Thunder returned home tonight to host the Spurs and looked to start a winning streak after their win against the Lakers.
For a while there, it looked like they didn’t even want to play. They played extremely sluggish and looked like a team that was on the 2nd night of a back to back in LA and we all know they went out the night before but they would never admit to it. The offense wasn’t there and never really showed up to be honest but they just looked out of it on that end.
They once again got down big, 16 points to be exact, but as they have done for the most part of the short season so far, they came back and took care of business.
It was an ugly win but a win is for still a win. Here are the 3 things that went well for them.
1) The Bench
The Thunder starters looked absolutely horrible to start the game and that’s putting it nicely. Luckily, the bench came in and carry the load so the Spurs lead didn’t grow to 25+. Particularly in the 2nd quarter. It started with Ty Jerome who hit a late layup in the 4th and came in to start the second with more made buckets. Then Mike Muscala came in and took over scoring 14 points in 5 minutes to carry the offense. The energy those two brought carried over into the 2nd half with Kenrich Williams who does all of the little things a team needs to succeed. Unlike Mike, it won’t show in the box score how well Ty and Kenrich played. Neither of those 2 had a spectacular numbers game but they likely don’t win this game if they don’t show up. Especially considering how the starters lacked energy.
As stated above, it was an ugly game and that is mainly because the offense was very ugly. Luckily their defense showed up and didn’t let the game get out of hand. They held the Spurs to 41% from the field and only 20% from the floor. The Spurs average 107 ppg yet the Thunder held them to only 94. Hard to hold a team to 13 points under their average. Even better, despite having an off night offensively, Dort held the Spurs best player Dejounte Murray to only 10 points on 5-19 from the floor. Adding to that, the Thunder had a season high in blocks with 7 and in rebounds with 56. Their defense isn’t anywhere near the best in the league but it’s not the worst and it is very impressive for the youngest team in the league to have their defense look this good because young teams typically have really bad defense. Just go look at the defensive numbers this year. Plenty of young teams at the bottom so I have been thoroughly impressed with them on that end.
3) Shai’s 3rd Quarter
Before tonight, Shai was 3rd in the NBA in 3rd quarter scoring and they needed him to be the guy who was 3rd in the 3rd quarter scoring tonight. They started the half down 10 and Shai was Shai scoring 9 of his 14 in the quarter and just his presence on the floor proved successful for the team. They go as he goes because when he’s hot or looking for his shot teams are paying a lot of attention to him and it opens up the floor for everyone else. It’s no surprise their best quarter came when he had it going and knew he was the best player on the floor. The only gripe about this is, he has to find a way to get going early so they aren’t down so much in the 3rd but whatever works.
The Thunder were led by Muscala who had 20 points off the bench and Shai who had a decent all around game with 14 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds. Darius Bazley added 11 points and 11 rebounds while Dort added 13 points and 7 rebounds. Jeremiah Robinson Earl got the start tonight and was key for 13 points and 4 rebounds.
The team looks to keep this winning streak going when they take on the Pelicans in New Orleans on Wednesday.
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