Oklahoma City – The Thunder were on the road again in Detroit facing the Pistons and looked to end their 8 game losing streak in the process.
The last time we saw the Thunder they had a NBA record 73 point loss to the Grizzlies so they had extra motivation to come out and play well tonight. In that game though, they were missing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Kenrich Williams, and Derrick Favors and all were back tonight so things should have been better.
The Pistons also came into the game with an 8 game losing streak so both had extra motivation to win this game.
Most people wanted and thought the Thunder would come out and show they aren’t the team that lost by 73 points the other night.
That did not happen. They came out flat on defense and allowed the Pistons to have their best 1st quarter of the season. It continue into the 2nd where the Thunder got down by 18 and into the 3rd when they got down by 16. Luckily, the bench led by Kenrich Williams ignited the team and they were able to complete a comeback
The Thunder had their best quarter of the season tonight scoring 42 points on a blistering 17-19 from the floor. Their defense also returned after a hiatus and held the Pistons to 40 points in the 2nd half. That was a welcomed sight after their last 7 quarters of play.
Thunder ended the game on a 23-6 run to win 114-103.
Here are the 3 reasons they won.
1) Attacking The Rim Early And Often
One of the biggest problems for the Thunder offense this season is they settle for 3s too often. That wasn’t the case tonight. They made a concerted effort to get to the rim early and often. They were the more physical team and didn’t settle at all which they were in turn rewarded. First, they had 58 points in the paint which is the 2nd most they have had there all season. Second, they tied a season high in free throw attempts with 30 and shot pretty well from there hitting 23. The Pistons who had it going early from 3 only shot 6 free throws. So not only were the Thunder the more aggressive team but they played smart defense and didn’t allow them to get to the line. The Thunder are at their best when they don’t settle because they aren’t that good of an offensive team so settling only hampers their offense more than it already is. Luckily, that wasn’t the case tonight.
2) Took Care Of The Ball
In a game like tonight taking care of the ball was extremely important. Especially when they didn’t have their offense really going and when they Pistons were red hot. More turnovers mean they get out to a bigger lead and that might have been too much for the Thunder to overcome. They only had 11 tonight which the Pistons only converted into 11 points. Winning the turnover battle in a game like this is extremely key and shows how poised they are. A lot of young team would get sloppy and rack up turnovers like the Pistons did in the 3rd when they had 7 in the quarter but the Thunder didn’t and that’s why they won the game. It’s those little details that wins games and eventually championships.
3) Bench Mob
You may look at the bench and see they only had 35 of the Thunder 114 and ask yourself how are they one of the main reasons the Thunder won this game. My answer would be to watch the game. The bench unit is the sole reason the Thunder didn’t get down by more than 18. The starters defense was pretty bad to start the game and the bench came in and brought the back time and time again. It was Kenrich Williams’ energy and effort that gave the Thunder the edge in their comeback. Yes Lu Dort had 11p in the 4th, yes Shai had 8 but Kenrich had his 7 and was all over the place. Without him they don’t win this game and it might not be close.
The Thunder were led by Shai who had 30 points and a career high 13 assists. He’s been very aggressive lately and tonight showed that he can look for his shot early and still get others involved all night. Need more of that from him. Lu Dort was great also and had 28 points to go with 2 steals and 2 blocks. Giddey got it going in the 3rd and ended up with 12 points and 5 assists while Kenrich off the bench added 12 points, 4 steals, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
The team looks to try and start a winning streak against the Raptors on Wednesday night in Toronto.
Flip the page for highlights.