Well, that was certainly a game.
In a game that resembled the 2000s, the Thunder struggled to hit their shots and were limited offensively by the Jimmy-Butler-less-and-Bam-Adebayo-less Miami Heat, who won 103-90.
The Thunder were able to slog it out with the Heat for an entire half, as the game was tied at 43 apiece in intermission. But the Heat were able to get away as they overwhelmed the Thunder with their three-point shooting, as they went 18-of-40 (45%.)
This included Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus scoring a combined 60 points and making a combined 13 threes. With the Heat missing its two best players, these three were able to step and carry some of the offensive load.
The game was never truly over as the Thunder were able to make it interesting in various points of the fourth quarter, but the offensive well dried up during runs and the Heat were able to answer back and keep a fair distance from the opposition.
For the Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggled mightily and scored a season-low 10 points. The Heat did a great job at defending SGA all night and limiting his scoring opportunities, only finishing with 11 shot attempts. Not much you can do except tip your cap to the Heat and realize why they have been one of the best defensive-rated teams in the league for a reason.
One of the few positives is the fact that Lu Dort continues to impress with his offense as he finished with 20 points. The Player-Of-The-Week nominee has now scored over 20 points in his past four games.
This is starting to reach a point where it is a statistical trend and not just an outlier. Nobody should expect Dort to score this much constantly, but if he can stay around this level for most games, then the Thunder have found quite the gem.
Aleksej Pokusevski also had one of the better stretches of his career in the second half and finished with 11 points overall. Shooting has been a recent struggle for Poku, but he has been able to contribute in other ways that do not involve scoring the ball. If Poku can add the scoring element to his game more consistently, then his player development will look more promising.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl also did a nice job as he finished with 16 points. Thunder Head Coach Mark Daigneault continues to insist that the starting center position is fluid, but considering how well JRE fits with the starter, I wonder how long it is going to take for Daigneault to name the rookie the permanent starter if he continues to play like this.
And finally, after playing arguably his worst game of the season last night, Josh Giddey had a better performance tonight. Giddey finished with six points, nine assists, nine rebounds and two blocks. It seems like scoring the ball will be the biggest hurdle to cross for Giddey if he is to collect triple-doubles, which is pretty rare considering most players would say that is the easiest of the three statistical categories needed.
Nonetheless, Giddey looked great and once again showed off that passing can be sexually appealing too.
On the injury front, it was reported on the NBA Injury Report that Darius Bazley was questionable with plantar fasciitis. Those two words probably sent a shiver down the spine of Thunder fans as it cost SGA the last two months of the season last year. It is also well documented that type of injury usually costs guys quite a bit of time and when they do come back, there’s a decent chance that the injury flares up again. So when the injury was reported, it would have been safe to assume Bazley would miss tonight’s game just to be extra cautious.
But nope. Bazley played 25 minutes. Which is great! It would have sucked to see Baze lose time to this injury after finding some rhythm in recent weeks. What would have made it worse is that this is essentially a contract year for Baze. Plantar fasciitis would have been unfair for both Baze and the Thunder to put a lot of weight on this season’s results.
But thankfully, it looks like both parties dodged a bullet as he was able to play heavy NBA minutes without it impacting his game.
Next Game: Houston Rockets travel to OKC to play the Thunder on Wednesday, Nov. 17.