Less than 24 hours after beating the Blazers in Portland, the Thunder were able to turn around and blow out the Jazz in Utah in one of OKC’s most complete games this season. The Thunder were playing like well function machine on both sides of the floor in a game that was determined after the third quarter. Here are 10 takeaways from this game:
1) Before the game, it was announced that Terrance Ferguson would miss his third straight game to due a hip injury and that Danilo Gallinari was added to the injury report with a sprained ankle that caused him to miss this game. In their absence, Abdel Nader and Darius Bazley got the starting nods. Nader responded well with 10 points on 4-8 shooting while Bazley grabbed seven rebounds with two points.
2) The Thunder could’ve easily packed it in tonight, second night of a back to back in Utah and third game in four nights. Losing this game on tired legs would’ve been a valid excuse. But nope, not this squad. Instead, the Thunder looked like the fresher team out there and blew out a Jazz team in Utah that many think will be one of the better teams in the league.
3) Another great game for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tonight. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 20 points on 7-20 shooting with three assists and six rebounds. Gilgeous-Alexander was able to make five of his seven made shots inside the paint against the best defensive big man in the NBA in Rudy Gobert. Gilgeous-Alexander has looked more confident in the past week after hitting a mini slump this season.
4) You know, I was skeptical about Dennis Schorder’s fit with this team all offseason long and I couldn’t have been more happier to eat some crow. Schroder has been one of the Thunder’s top five players this season, having the best NRTG on the team at 4.6 this season. Schroder continued his impressive season tonight with 27 points on 11-21 shooting. Schroder had the hot hand all game long and helped push the lead in the third quarter with his shooting.
5) Steven Adams was super active on both ends. Adams finished with a double double of 11 points and 13 rebounds to go along with four assists and four blocks. Adams continues to look great these last few weeks after having a slow start to his season.
6) Two way player Lugentz Dort held his own tonight defensively against Donovan Mitchell, looking confident and active against Mitchell. Dort wasn’t afraid to get physical which caused him to get in foul trouble again. It’s expected with a guy in his third NBA game but Dort has looked good so far since he has been getting minutes. Dort also had nine points on 3-6 shooting that included a nasty dunk in the fourth quarter.
7) Can we give Billy Donovan some love? He was given a group of players that never played with each other before and has turned them into a competitive team that is in the playoff hunt. Donovan has gotten a ton of criticism from the fanbase in the past years but you have to question how much control he truly had over those teams. Now? He gets to coach with a clean slate knowing expectations are low and player development is key and to Donovan’s credit, he’s gotten vets like Chris Paul and Gallinari to buy in. Right now would be the best time to mention that Donovan is on his last year of his contract too, so this season is a prove it season and in my opinion, Donovan has been acing it.
8) You know the thing where the Thunder become the worst team in NBA history during third quarters? Well that was the opposite tonight. The Thunder outscored the Jazz in the third quarter 34-21 to balloon their lead 85-68, which included a 19-7 run to finish it.
9) Chris Paul was great tonight too, finishing with 16 points on 7-15 shooting with seven assists. Paul continues to play well since his four point dud against the Pacers last week.
10) The Thunder played great defense, holding the Jazz to a season low 90 points on 40.4/ 25.8/ 83.3 shooting splits. Mitchell was held in check scoring just 25 points on 10-26 shooting.