The Oklahoma City Thunder began their journey into the 2017-2018 season against the Houston Rockets in the preseason opener at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was Thunder fans’ first glimpse of the new team additions in game action against another NBA team.
The Thunder dropped its preseason opener to the Rockets 104-97 in a game where Head Coach Billy Donovan got the chance to examine his new players and also take a look at his younger talent. The Thunder were without Russell Westbrook, Patrick Patterson, and Alex Abrines due to knee injuries.
In the first quarter, the Thunder struggled to find any success out of their offensive sets. The Thunder turned the ball over four times in the opening minutes of the game before settling in and finding success. Newcomer and all-star Carmelo Anthony scored the team’s first 10 points of the game. Defensively, however, the Thunder showed scrappy defense in the half-court and communicated well in rotation situations.
As the second quarter began, the Thunder continued to turn the ball over and took contested shots. The Rockets began to get out in transition and caught fire from beyond the arc. Gordon hit four 3’s in the quarter to help build the lead to as many as 18.
The Thunder would respond in the latter stages of the second quarter as Anthony went on a personal 7-0 run to close out the half. The Thunder defense began to get better contests on 3’s and they held the Rockets to 8 points in the final 5 minutes. The Thunder trailed the Rockets 62-52 at the half.
In the second half, the Thunder began to play more of their younger talent. Daniel Hamilton, Jerami Grant, Dakari Johnson, Josh Huestis and Isaiah Canaan all played major minutes against the Rockets’ heavy hitters. Hamilton and Canaan both scored in double figures with 11 points. Terrance Ferguson, a Tulsa native, scored 8 points in front of his home crowd.
The Rockets connected on 24 3’s and shot 43% from beyond the arc. They were also able to score 34 points off the Thunder’s 20 turnovers. Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 21 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-8 from three. James Harden contributed a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists.
Melo led the Thunder with 19 points and fellow newcomer Paul George scored 15 points along with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Thunder will look to find more chemistry and fluidity in their offense as the preseason continues. The Thunder will be back in action on Friday night at home against the New Orleans Pelicans.