In a game that featured the greatest scorer of this generation, a 22-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be the one who grabbed the headlines as he went on to score 31 points with 7 assists, and 6 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder go on to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 129-116.
Coming off the heels of scoring 25 points, 7 assists, and 10 rebounds, Shai followed up that performance with an equally fantastic game against the other team in New York.
After whispers of Shai being a bit too passive, Shai has had back to back great scoring performances to show the doubters that he can turn it on whenever.
On an injury note, Shai landed badly on his hip in the fourth quarter on a drive to the basket but finished the game. Shai was seen limping a bit after the fall but the injury did not seem too serious.
The Thunder won this game on all three levels of the offense; attacking the paint, hitting from three, and nailing their free throws.
OKC scored 66 points in the paint tonight against the poor Nets interior. The Thunder are known to shoot a ton of threes, but they did so efficiently tonight as they went 15-of-39 (38.5%). The team also was nearly perfect from the line, going 16-of-17.
Is “New York Hami” a thing? Because Hamidou Diallo followed up a career performance in Madison Square Garden with another career performance at the Barclays Center by scoring 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Diallo was also very active in the passing lanes and stole the ball four times from Brooklyn.
Diallo has been fantastic in two straight games, if he can continue to play at similar levels like this, then a discussion on Diallo getting an extension and being part of the young core will seriously need to be had.
Isaiah Roby was also another young bench player who was great tonight, as he finished with 13 points and five rebounds off the bench. Roby won his matchup against DeAndre Jordan and was able to contribute to this impressive win against a team with championship aspirations.
Tonight was also easily Al Horford’s best game with the Thunder, as he finished with 22 points, three assists, and six rebounds. Horford is never going to be a stat sheet stuffer and his value comes in intangibles but in tonight’s game against Brooklyn,
Horford did a good job at showing how good of a scorer he can be. Mine only nitpick from tonight is that Horford was a bit foul prone as he finished with four fouls in 27 minutes.
The other veteran in George Hill also showed out tonight and gave Brooklyn a glimpse as to what type of player they would get in any hypothetical trade. A veteran guard who knows his role and can play on and off the ball. The Nets lack guard depth with Spencer Dinwiddie out for the season and Hill would provide a respectable replacement. Hill finished with 14 points on 6/12 shooting.
After a bit of a shooting slump recently, Lu Dort went back to shooting the ball like he’s had for most of this season, scoring 13 points on 4/6 shooting.
It’s still pretty weird to have to play against Kevin Durant and even weirder in tonight’s game as this is the first time that Durant has played a Thunder team without a former teammate of his on the roster.
It has been nearly five years since Durant initially ended things ugly with the franchise and I hope that both sides are at a point in time where any hard feelings can be left behind and we can start appreciating the greatest Thunder player in franchise history.
Tonight’s game was missing the hostility and tension previous Thunder vs Durant matchups have had, this is the first time ever where it felt like just another regular-season game.
Durant scored 36 points on 11-of-21 shooting but it never felt like the Thunder were in any serious danger in the second half despite Durant going off, which speaks volumes on how well the team defended Brooklyn in the middle quarters.
After giving up 41 points in the first quarter, the Thunder held the Nets to just 40 points in the second and third quarters combined.
OKC did a great job at defending the perimeter as the Nets shot a poor 10-of-34 (29.4%) and limited fast-break opportunities while also forcing the Nets to turn it over 17 times.
All these ingredients led to a recipe of a great defensive showing for the Thunder against the 8th highest offensive rating team in the league in the Nets.
Tonight’s win puts the Thunder over .500 for the first time since the season opener as the team sits with a 5-4 record.
It’s a bit of a surprise but a welcomed one for sure.
Next Game: The Thunder return home Tuesday to face the San Antonio Spurs.