The Oklahoma City Thunder faced off against the 12-1 Los Angeles Lakers at The Peake. This was a back and forth game that saw 19 lead changes and 13 ties, in the end, the Thunder fell short once again to a more talented team in what has been the running theme for this team.
Here are the 10 biggest takeaways from this game:
1) Steven Adams looked more like his old self this game. Adams finished with 22 points on 9-10 shooting, four assists and six rebounds. Adams has been dealing with a knee contusion the past few weeks and Billy Donovan even admitted after the last game his minutes were being monitored. Adams went a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line with three of them being and-ones. This is an encouraging sign to see due to how notoriously bad Adams free throw shooting has been this season, shooting just 29.6% entering this game. It’s also encouraging that Adams was able to finish through contact, something he has been hesitant on doing (Adams is on pace for the fewest amount of dunks this season for his career.) This was easily Adams’ best game this season and hopefully he can build off of it.
2) Hamidou Diallo is another player who has missed the past three games due to a sore knee and the Thunder have missed his bench production. Diallo played great in his first game back, scoring eight points on an efficient 4-8 shooting in just 15 minutes. Unfortunately, Diallo got hit hard on his surgically repaired elbow in the fourth quarter after a LeBron James drive to the basket. Diallo was in a ton of pain on the floor and ran straight to the locker room. It’s a scary situation for both the Thunder and Diallo and you hope that his injury isn’t as serious as it looked.
3) Darius Bazley had one his better games tonight, scoring nine points on 4-5 shooting. Bazley looked super confident out there for a rookie playing against one of the best teams in the league in the Lakers. Bazley had the best +/- on the team at -10 but only played 16 minutes. Bazley has been impressive this season in his short sample sizes but I think it’s about time that the Thunder let Bazley start getting more rotation minutes.
4) After struggling his last two games in LA, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a bounce back performance tonight. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 24 points on 10-18 shooting, four assists and seven rebounds and a team-high 24.1 USG%. Six of his 10 made shots came within the paint, which is even more impressive this game considering how big the Lakers’ frontcourt is.
5) This was a great offensive game for the Thunder. They scored 127 points on team shooting splits of 52.7/ 35.5/ 90.0 with 28 team assists. All five starters scored 10+ points. The Thunder seem to score better at home than on the road, they average 110.1 PPG at home against 99.8 PPG on the road this season.
6) The team defense on the other hand, struggled this game. The Lakers went off for 130 points on team shooting splits of 51.1/ 54.8/ 79.3 that included 17 threes. It wasn’t just LeBron James and Anthony Davis doing damage, the Lakers’ supporting cast also had a great offensive game. The Lakers, outside of James and Davis, shot 12-21 from three. Coming into this game, the Lakers were one of the worst three point shooting teams, shooting 34.2% (21st ranked) from three.
7) It was a good game for Chris Paul tonight. Paul had 18 points on 5-11 shooting with seven assists to just one turnover. The assist total could’ve been higher for Paul though, he gave his teammates plenty of good looks this game but most of those shots didn’t go in.
8) Another game, another bad third quarter. The Lakers outscored the Thunder 40-36 in the third quarter. The Thunder were able to make it a close game until the very end but ultimately fell short to the more talented Lakers. This has been the theme for this team, keeping games close and competitive but falling short at the end due to the lack of talent and one has to wonder how much better the Thunder’s record would be if they weren’t one of the worst third quarter teams.
9) Dennis Schroder had a meh game with 13 points on 5-12 shooting and four assists. Schroder and Rajon Rondo also got into it all game long to the point where Rondo got ejected in the fourth quarter with a type two flagrant foul after he hit Schroder in the groin.
10) Terrance Ferguson and Danilo Gallinari both had good games as well. Ferguson finished with 11 points on 4-7 shooting (3-5 from three.) Ferguson had a crucial turnover near the end of the game in a one possession game. It’s unfortunate but part of the learning curve Ferguson will deal with this season as he is given a bigger offensive role. Gallinari had a pedestrian game for his standards, scoring just 15 points on 5-13 shooting.
Next Game: The 5-10 Thunder travel to San Francisco to take on the 3-14 Warriors on 11/25.