The Thunder manage to win a close game against a depleted Detroit Pistons team at home, which extends their win streak to four games and are a season high 12 games above .500. Thanks to a game winning shot by Bradley Beal against the Mavericks earlier tonight, the Thunder gain a game lead on the Mavericks for the sixth seed.
In the first game since the trade deadline passed that saw OKC surprisingly make no moves, the Thunder manages to win it due to some elite defense and even contributions from every major player tonight. The Thunder had five players in double digit scoring with each of them taking 10+ shots.
Despite the cold start from three, Danilo Gallinari still finished with 19 points on 5-15 shooting that included a pair of threes in the third quarter. Gallinari was the biggest name in trade rumors and almost saw him going to Miami if they could’ve come to an agreement on the third year in a possible extension. Now Gallinari will finish the season here in Oklahoma City and be a big contributor for the final 30 games in the regular season plus playoffs.
Steven Adams took advantage of the Pistons’ first game without Andre Drummond and dominated all night in the post against Thon Maker. Adams finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. This was Adams first double digit scoring game since January 13th.
Dennis Schroder continued his hot streak by hitting on five mid range jumpers and scoring 18 points on an efficient 8-14 shooting. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 points on an efficient 7-13 shooting that saw him score in his usual crafty ways around the paint that saw some acrobatic layups and jerky moving floaters.
Another close fourth quarter that saw Chris Paul close it out in the clutch. Paul scored 22 points on 7-11 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds. Paul scored 10 of those points in the fourth quarter and helped seal the win late in the game by going a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line in the final 2:15 of the game. A play that really stuck out to me for Paul tonight came in the last possession of the third quarter, where Paul had a decent three point look from the left wing, But after considering shooting the ball for a second, Paul passed the ball over to an open Terrance Ferguson in the left corner for three. Ferguson missed but that play really showed me how much Paul embraces the leadership role on this team. Ferguson just came back after missing the last two weeks due to personal reasons and coming off the bench after starting the last two seasons must be a tough transition for any professional athlete. You can just tell by his body language that Ferguson has lost a bit of confidence, which is understandable. Even after the miss, Paul made sure to dap up Ferguson and give him a small boost of confidence as they headed to the bench. Another great example of Paul’s leadership on this team. Paul made it a point of emphasis after the last game to step up for Ferguson after a reported asked him how he felt being moved to the bench.
With Ferguson back, this has been the healthiest the Thunder has looked all season long with the only player being out being Andre Roberson. One of the young wings had to lose their minutes in order for Ferguson to play and it looks like Hamidou Diallo got the short end of the stick. Diallo hasn’t played in the last two games since Ferguson returned.
The Thunder’s defense was elite tonight, holding the Pistons to just 101 points on 42.7/ 28.9/ 73.7 shooting splits with just a 112.2 ORTG this game. It’s also important to note that the Pistons only played seven guys heavy minutes due to injuries and trades so that could’ve played a factor to the low offensive production but that doesn’t take anything away from the Thunder forcing them to earn their points. The Pistons three big contributors tonight were Reggie Jackson, Christian Wood and Thon Maker.
Ex-Thunder guard Jackson scored 28 points on 11-18 shooting and really kept the Pistons in the game with some timely buckets. It was reported during the game that Jackson is mulling his options this season and is deciding whether or not to let Detroit buy out the rest of his contract or play the season out and become an UFA. The Clippers would be a possible destination for Jackson if the former happens. This could be in response to the Lakers looking like the favorites to land Darren Collison after he was spotted sitting with Lakers’ Owner Jeanie Buss at last night’s game.
Wood is going to be so good now that he’ll have a starting role with Drummond gone, in his second start this season tonight, he scored 27 points, assisted five times and grabbed 12 rebounds. Woods is the perfect version of the modern center who is super versatile with his offensive production. In just tonight’s game you saw multiple instances of him scoring inside, outworking others to grab rebounds, shooting from outside and being the ball distributor. I can see why the Pistons were ready to move on from Drummond and give the keys to Woods. Thon Maker scored a surprising 19 points on 7-12 shooting. The Pistons needed someone to step up with the lack of players available tonight and Maker answered the call.
Overall, this was another good team win that saw them close out a back and fourth battle despite some sluggish periods throughout the game. You could argue that the Thunder should’ve won this game by a wider margin but in the NBA a win is a win.