In a battle of tanks, the Oklahoma City Thunder came out victorious against the Zion-Williamson-and-Brandon-Ingram-less New Orleans Pelicans, 108-100.
This game was really won by the Thunder during the final four minutes of the third quarter, where they finished on an 18-4 run.
The Pelicans were able to make it interesting in the fourth quarter as they finished the game on a 25-12 run in the final 7:51, cutting the lead to single digits late. But the deficit was too large for them to overcome in just a 12 minute period.
After struggling the first half, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showed up in the third quarter once again as he scored 10 of his 24 points in that period. The third quarter has slowly become SGA’s favorite quarter. This was proven once again tonight. Outside of that though, SGA struggled big time and was never really able to gain rhythm. This performance is most likely a blip and it is safe to expect he should be able to produce his usual performances in these new games.
Lu Dort also deserves a lot of credit for helping OKC”s offensive woes in the first half, as he scored 18 of his 27 points in the first two quarters. With SGA struggling to score, this game could have easily gone away from the Thunder. Instead, someone who is not known for his scoring was able to lead the Thunder to an eight-point lead.
Despite his limited scoring contribution, Josh Giddey left his mark on this game by finishing with seven points, nine assists and 12 rebounds. Giddey continues to show off with his passing abilities that left even the opposing team’s broadcaster gushing over his talents. The rookie almost became the youngest player to record a triple-double, but came up an assist and a few points short.
Darius Bazley was also played relatively well tonight. Bazley has gotten a lot of criticism recently for his play due to his wild nature of attacking the basket and being a ball stopper, but he deserves credit when he plays well and that was the case tonight. Bazley finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Shout-outs are also warranted for guys like Mike Muscala, Tre Mann and Kenrich Williams. All played great tonight and had their moments. Especially in Mann’s case, who hasn’t played a Thunder game since last month due to playing with the Blue. Very solid first game back by energizing the game and scoring six points,
In the grand scheme of things, losing to the rebuilding Pelicans might come back to bite the Thunder later on down the road in terms of lottery odds, but it’s hard to stay mad at a win — even one as ugly as this. Especially with how the Thunder got this one that was won behind the backs of the future of the franchise.
The Thunder still have 72 games to make up ground in the tank standings, so tossing this season off as a lost cause due to a 4-6 start would be premature. This three-game winning streak has been impressive and surprising, but nothing about it screams that they are going to continue to win at this rate.
Besides, at the end of the day, the Thunder don’t need the worst record in the league. They just need a bottom three record to get the same top four lottery odds.
But let’s see how they like next game when they play the Sacramento Kings on Friday, Nov. 12.