Today, the Thunder faced off against the surprisingly experienced Philadelphia 76ers, who sport the #2 pick in this years draft and two regular rotation players from last year. How did the Thunder fare? Read on for a quick recap of the action.
The first quarter was one of the ugliest quarters of basketball I'd seen in some time. The only way either team could score was through getting fouled, and nobody was looking impressive, especially on the Sixers. Still, you have to give credit to Latavious Williams and Ryan Reid for stepping in later in the quarter and defending the paint unbelievably well. Ryan Reid still doesn't look like much of an NBA player, but Latavious williams has a chance. Courtesy of a Harden Three and some nice post moves by Williams, the Thunder were up by 7 going into the second.
The second quarter started off with a bang as Latavious Williams had an excellent ally-oop dunk within the first minute. But then, shortly after, the Sixers staged a comeback, hitting several outside shots. Evan Turner (the second pick of the draft) wasn't a part of it though, has he did pretty horribly throughout the quarter, not hitting one shot from the field. Luckily though, the Thunder decided to sub back in Mullens, White, and Maynor, which led to a massive comeback and restoring of the norm for this game.
Below: How did the Thunder fare in the second half? Who got a hand injury midway through the fourth?
The third quarter saw another run by the 76ers at the Thunder's lead, this time on the backs of Mareese Speights and Jrue Holiday, who finally figured out that the Thunder can't defend on the inside when Mullens and White are on the floor. The excellent run was capped off by an open Speights dunk in the paint, after which Speights yelled loudly into the mic under the basket. Later on in the quarter, James Harden kept the Thunder in the game by figuring out new ways to get fouled. By the end of the quarter things had evened back out, and the Thunder kept a small lead.
In the early goings on of the fourth, Mustafa Shakur showed us what he could do, scoring back to back threes with ease and running the point well.
But bad news came as Eric Maynor injured his hand halfway through the quarter. He didn't return to the game, but it's unknown if the injury is serious or not. More news as it's revealed.
As for the rest of the quarter, Shakur tried to do some more heroics, but he tried to do too much on his own and set himself up with a few bad shots. James Harden and B.J. Mullens then took over and finished out the game. D.J. White hit a jumper to put the Thunder up by 8 with under a minute to go, effectively sealing the victory.
After today's game, not much has changed for the Thunder. We got a better look at Shakur's skills, B.J. and D.J. still make for a terrible defensive/rebounding combo, and Robert Vaden is still looking pretty terrible. If there was any surprise of the night, it was the usefulness of Ryan Reid and Latavious Williams in this game. Not All-Star caliber players by any means, but good post defenders in any case.
And it's good to see that the Thunder are doing well against a team like this one. This 76er team had some legitimate players (like #2 pick Evan Turner, starting PG Jrue Holiday, and 6ers rotation player Mareese Speights), and even some NBA washups (like former Hornet Cedric Simmons, who handed me a donut once). They were definitely on par with the Thunder in terms of talent, and to see the Thunder easily defeat the other team while going deep into the bench was a refreshing sight indeed.
In any case, lets cap off this recap with some awards....
Thunder Wonder: James Harden, for getting the team out of several jams.
Thunder Down Under: Mustafa Shakur, for some late game heroics.
Thunder Blunder: Robert Vaden, for contributing nothing of value.
Thunder Plunderer: Mareese Speights, who had a solid 20 points and 9 rebounds.
Next Game: At the Magic, Thursday, July 8th, 12PM Central Standard Time