Well, the game went about as expected.
The Los Angeles Lakers are the defending champions while the Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the youngest teams in the league, which pretty much sums up how the Lakers were able to defeat OKC 128-99.
Coming into tonight’s game, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault mentioned before the game that one of the biggest priorities he had for his defense against LA was to limit their fast breaks. The Lakers are fourth in the league averaging 16.2 fast-break points a game.
The Thunder did a good job of limiting LA to just 9 points. They also did a relatively good job at containing the paint despite Al Horford sitting this game out and the Lakers duo being the large LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Where OKC lost the game was from beyond the arc, allowing the Lakers to go 17-of-37 from the 3-point line. OKC went 10-of-31 from three.
That’s a 21-point difference, which is a surprising result considering the Lakers are 20th in the league in team three-pointers made a game at 12.2.
Coach Daigneault also said pregame that it’s important to evaluate the process of a team in multiple game chunks and not focus on individual games, which rings true for tonight’s game.
Despite the lopsided score, there were a few bright spots the Thunder can take away from the loss.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 17 points and was able to individually beat Dennis Schroder on a few possessions. Thunder fans should know that Schroder can be a very scrappy and aggressive defender, so Shai beating him on some matchups with his drives is a good sign.
Shai continued to get to the line tonight as well as he went 6-of-7 from the stripe.
Lu Dort is starting to earn the title of a legit three-point shooter as he finished with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from deep.
Isaiah Roby has surprised many into being a respectable NBA player as he got the start tonight in place of Horford and finished with points and rebounds. Roby has a little bit of point guard skills in him as he has no issue bringing the ball up the court and making not easy passes.
Tonight’s game also marked the return of Dennis Schroder to OKC after being traded to the Lakers this past offseason.
Schroder finished with 14 points, five assists, and five rebounds. It seems Schroder is happy being a Laker and I do not blame him, starting for a championship contender was honestly the best-case scenario for him and he has earned it after being a good soldier in OKC by coming off the bench.
This was also Aleksej Pokusevski’s best game this season as he finished with 10 points, 3 blocks, and 4 rebounds. This was Pokusevski’s first double-digit scoring game of his career.
Tonight was what you’d consider being Pokusevski’s “Terrance Ferguson at the Staples Center” game.
“You can tell he is starting to get a little more comfortable on the offensive end,” said Daigneault about Pokusevski. “His defense is ahead of his offense, and he’s been playing good defense.”
On the injury front, Darius Bazley exited the game in the fourth quarter with a right ankle sprain.
Daigneault mentioned after the game that the team will know more in the morning on the severity of Bazley’s ankle injury.
Next Game: The reunion tour continues as former head coach Billy Donovan and the Chicago Bulls visit Oklahoma City on Friday.