Oklahoma City – The Thunder hit the road again tonight in Brooklyn facing one of the NBA’s elite and looked to end their 5 game losing streak.
The Nets came into the game on the second night of a back to back and were without a big chunk of their contributors with no Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Lamarcus Aldridge, Nic Claxton, or Patty Mills. It was going to be a great night for the Thunder to end their 5 game losing streak.
Coming into the game, it was imperative that they play some defense. Their offense has looked pretty good the last few games but they have been playing some very inconsistent defense lately. It’s been unlike them and they really needed to get back to that tonight. Especially with the Nets missing so many guys.
The offense came in right where they left off Tuesday night against the Wizards and they were really hot having their best opening quarter of the season and that continued. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander set the tone early with his driving which opened up the floor for everyone else and that continued all night.
It was truly an offensive clinic for the Thunder all night. They had a season high in points and won 130-109. The first time they’ve played consistent defense in some time.
Having a season high in points was really key but that isn’t the main reason they won. Here are the 3 reasons they were able to end their 5 game losing streak.
1) Scorching Offense
It was an absolute offensive clinic for the Thunder. As mentioned, they had a season high in points with 130, a mark they haven’t reached since the 2020 season, but that wasn’t the only season high they had. It was a season highs in 3 point makes (20 which it’s only the 7th time the Thunder have ever had 20 or more 3s in a game), assists (32), field goal percentage (51.6%), and 3 point percentage (44.4%). Offensive clinic. Shai set the tone early by getting to the basket and everyone else did what they were supposed to do when the floor opened up and hit their open shots. This was the best the offense has looked all season and it was how they should play all season. Not necessarily the shot profile because they ddi take more 3s than shots in the paint but the majority were good shots. Playing inside out is the way and they should watch the film from this game for the rest of the season. They probably won’t hit 20 3s again, but as long as they’re getting the right shots they’ll be good.
2) Consistent Defense
For the first time in a while the Thunder played some good consistent defense. Last game against the Wizards they didn’t play any and if they would have they would have easily won. The defense showed back up tonight. They were much more active and played hard defense without fouling too much. They didn’t let James Harden get going at all playing very sound defense on him. Thunder held the Nets to just 41.8% from the floor and 21.9% from 3. The shooting percentage was the 7th worst they’ve shot all season while the 3 point percentage was the 2nd worst all season. They also had 7 blocks which is the 3rd most they’ve had all season. This type of defensive effort has been missing for some time now and it’s very good to see it back.
3) Great Passing
32 assists tonight for the Thunder which was a season high. Obviously when you score a lot of points, most of the time you’ll have a lot of assists. That isn’t always the case with young teams. Young teams typically play a lot of one on one when they see the ball going in as much as it was for the Thunder but that isn’t what happened tonight. They did a great job of driving with purpose and not taking contested heat checks. They made the extra pass all night also. There were some times when Shai in particular turned the ball over when he was trying to make a pass when he could have easily taken a shot or drove. Those kind of turnovers are fine because they’re playing the right way. The other night when they had a season high in points they didn’t have as many assists and didn’t shoot as well as they should because it was too much one on one but tonight showed how they can be unselfish and still put up great efficient numbers.
The Thunder were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who had a great all around game with 33 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals while Lu Dort had a great game with 27 points and shot 6-10 from 3. Josh Giddey is starting to have some really quiet good games because he wasn’t really mentioned but had 19 points and 7 assists. The bench was great again and they were led by Darius Bazley who had 16 points and 5 rebounds while Mike Muscala added 14 points in only 12 minutes.
The Thunder come back home and look to start a winning streak when they face the surprising Cavs on Saturday night.
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