The Oklahoma City Thunder extended its losing streak to three games with a 113-101 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Thunder were without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he was ruled out with a sprained ankle before the game. The Thunder instead rolled out a very big and tall starting lineup of Josh Giddey — Lu Dort — Darius Bazley — Derrick Favors — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
This was Giddey’s first chance to be the primary playmaker for the Thunder with SGA out and boy did he look like a natural in that role. The rookie finished with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Without their best player, the 29th ranked offensive rating team managed to score 101 points, which included a season-high 60 points in the first half.
It was really the tale of two halves for the Thunder offense. But honestly, when you’re missing the only guy who attracts gravity, the other shoe was going to eventually drop. I would focus less on the second half and focus more on the first half and just how good Giddey looked at carrying the load.
Giddey looked great as the lone point guard, creating quality looks for his teammates in situations that looked dire all game long. Giddey just continues to impress this season and has shown why teams thought he was the best passer and playmaker of his draft class.
I would love to see more Giddey-led units out there. When SGA returns, I wonder if the coaching staff will consider stagnating the minutes between the two in order to give both a chance to be the lead facilitators of their respective groups.
Besides Giddey, there are a few other players whose performances justify a mention.
Lu Dort scored just 15 points. Dort has been on a recent scoring tear recently, but tonight was not his night with scoring the ball. It’s nothing to be too concerned about and will just chalk it up as just a bad offensive night overall with SGA out.
JRE also finished with a 13 point and 10 rebound double double. The rookie’s polished offensive game continues to impress and it feels inevitable that he gets named the permanent starting center.
Mike Muscala actually had a pretty good return to Atlanta since initially leaving the franchise. He finished with nine points. Muscala only managed to play 16 minutes tonight. The veteran continues to shoot the ball lights out this season in his limited time on the court.
Aleksej Pokusevski struggled to shoot the ball, going 4-of-14, but he grabbed down 10 rebounds. Tonight was Poku’s season-high in minutes with 22. If the shot is not going to fall, it is good that Poku can contribute in other ways, such as grabbing boards.
Ty Jerome scored 15 points in an efficient 16 minutes. Jerome has been a nice, steady hand off the bench this season.
Overall, a rebuilding team missing its star player is going to be a recipe for performances like tonight. The Thunder were able to make it interesting for a half, but the Hawks eventually opened this game up.
Next Game: The Thunder return home to play the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, Nov. 24.