The Oklahoma City Thunder were not able to overcome another deficit tonight as they lose to the Boston Celtics, 111-105.
Leading by 13 at the half, the Celtics ballooned their lead in the third quarter and led by as much as 25 points.
Despite this fact, the Thunder were able to keep it relatively competitive and not let go of the rope. Their resilience was on display as they were able to fight back every time it appeared that the Celtics were going to blow this game open. Considering the fact that this is the team’s fifth game in seven nights and were missing their head coach, you just have to be impressed with their effort.
It would have been understandable to see the team lose its composure as the Celtics were pulling away and gaining momentum with its home crowd roaring behind them. This could have easily been explained as tired legs tapping out on a road trip in the cold month of November.
But nope. Not this team.
They just kept fighting back no matter what the scoreboard said. The wins might not reflect the effort they put in, but the Thunder act and carry themselves like true professionals.
I know these words have been degraded to buzzwords and phrases, but these last two nights have really shown just how great the culture is in Oklahoma City. A team this young should not have the composure it carries. A team this young should not be able to keep things interesting in the fourth quarter in road games against Eastern Conference heavyweights. Especially when the head coach is gone. But they did.
Active Thunder Head Coach Dave Bliss has mentioned numerous times these past two days that he has not done anything differently and that the team does a great job at just stepping up in the absence of others without trying to be a hero. Thunder Culture has been a common phrase many fans have said to describe this season, but these last couple of nights really did a great job at showing what exactly that means.
Anyway, back to the game, nobody really stood out in tonight’s game. It was a very evenly distributed scoring output for the team.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting. His scoring numbers have dipped recently and you have to wonder how much that has to do with the fact that the opposition is homing in on him. Another thing to note is that SGA rolled his ankle late in the fourth quarter but was able to finish the game. His injury status will be something to monitor in the coming days.
Lu Dort finished with 16 points. He continues to shoot well from the outside as he went 4-of-9. What makes his threes even more impressive is the fact that they are not just catch and shoot shots exclusively. There is a lot more variance with his outside shots.
Darius Bazley’s shooting struggles continue as he went 2-of-11 from the field, but he contributed in other ways such as grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Josh Giddey had a nice performance as he finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. This includes shooting an impressive 4-of-6 from three.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. He finished with 27 minutes while starting center Derrick Favors finished with 20. I feel like we’re getting closer to the point of just naming JRE the starting five. It feels inevitable at this rate as he has impressed with his playing and has even drawn comparisons to Nick Collison.
“He continues to show versatility every night,” Bliss said after the game when asked about JRE. “He’s a stud. He can process a lot of information. Stays calm. Stays poise. Just takes it all in... He can handle the ball, he can pass the ball, he can defend... For a 20-year-old, he’s got an IQ that’s uncommon.”
Overall, great competitive game that shows just how great the foundation is in Oklahoma City despite the youth and lack of refined talent the roster has.
I think Ty Jerome, who scored 12 points off the bench tonight, put it best after the Bucks’ loss last night:
“We’re a young team, we have a lot of flaws, but the thing I love about us and I think people will grow to love about us: we have no quit in us.”