The Oklahoma City Thunder withstood an inspired F.C. Barcelona effort to prevail 92-89 Wednesday afternoon. Enes Kanter (24) finished as the Thunder’s high-points man. OKC’s dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook (12) and Victor Oladipo (10) joined Kanter in double-digits. Overall, eleven Thunder players scratched the scorer’s column.
For celebrated F.C. Barcelona, former Portland Trail Blazer Victor Claver led the way with 25 points. In total, the perennial Liga ACB powerhouse connected on 14-of-31 (45.2%) three-point field goals.
Oklahoma City’s deficiency in switching screens and contesting deep attempts almost resulted in a winless overseas excursion for the Northwest Division Champs.
The Thunder’s shaky two-way execution characterized a marginal first-half effort. OKC committed 14 turnovers and surrendered six three-pointers to a decidedly more cohesive F.C. Barcelona Lassa squad.
Trailing 47-45 at the half, Oklahoma City’s lone bright spot was the performance of rookie Domantas Sabonis. The 20-year-old made good on two triples in addition to scoring eight points. Enes Kanter led all scorers at halftime with 11.
While Kanter shined offensively, his struggles on the defensive end continued. Utah Jazz draftee Ante Tomic netted the majority of his first-half, team-high 10 points against the big Turk.
To begin the third, Anthony Roberson dazzled with two sensational transition slams to bring the Thunder its first lead since early in the contest. Offensively, Kanter (7) and Westbrook (6) shouldered the load. However, FC Barcelona would use unchecked perimeter firepower to build a 68-67 advantage heading into the fourth.
In the final 12 minutes, a grouping of Oklahoma City reserves overcame a gritty F.C. Barcelona iteration to secure victory.
At the conclusion of OKC’s Barcelona trip, it’s apparent that the new-look Thunder need additional time to gel. Opposite adhesive, yet lesser heralded non-NBA opposition, Oklahoma City has showcased myriad flaws.
As earlier mentioned, no Thunder shortcoming thus far is as defined as the team’s lack of defensive communication. However, this will naturally improve as the unit’s shared practice and on-court reps increase.
Coach Billy Donovan and his men will have several days to review tape and contemplate strategy before visiting the Dallas Mavericks October 11.