The Oklahoma City Thunder battled through a brutal stretch of four games in five nights last week, capped by a 117-101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
The Thunder (12-18) went 1-3 during that stretch with losses to the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Milwaukee Bucks. The win over the Cavs was the team’s first since knocking off the Bucks on Valentine’s Day.
OKC tips off a four-game homestand tonight against the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat followed by games against the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, and Denver Nuggets to wrap up the stretch.
Before the Thunder hit the home floor against the Heat on Monday, let’s take a look back at some key takeaways from last week’s action.
TRAILBLAZERS 115, THUNDER 104
The Thunder fell victim to ‘Dame Time’ last Tuesday night as Damian Lillard scored 12 points in the final five minutes to hand OKC its first loss of the week.
- The Thunder led 102-97 at the five-minute mark, erasing a 14-point deficit to start the fourth quarter. It was another resilient effort as the team continues to pound away at development.
- Dort’s performance was tremendous on both ends. Sure, Lillard went for 31 points, but 12 of those came on what Thunder head coach Mark Daignault called “bombs” down the stretch. Dort helped keep the MVP candidate in check most of the game and scored 23 points with six boards.
- The Thunder bench provided a punch, especially late. The group of Mike Muscala, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Roby, and Hamidou Diallo, along with starter Darius Bazley, sparked a 24-4 run before Lillard’s three-point barrage. Altogether OKC’s second unit tallied 45 points.
GRIZZLIES 122, THUNDER 113
OKC struggled down the stretch, capping the second half of a back-to-back with a loss to Memphis last Wednesday on the road.
- The Thunder really had no answer for Jonas Valanciunnas, especially with Al Horford out for rest. The Memphis big man scored 22 points with 12 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. His presence down low fueled the Grizzlies to 52 points in the paint compared to OKC’s 24.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made his return after missing four games with a left knee sprain and looked a step slow. Although that is to be expected, he still led the team with 22 points with six assists and three rebounds.
- Ja Morant finished with a triple-double, including 15 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds. The second-year star is one of the most exciting players in the league.
BUCKS 98, THUNDER 95
Another scrappy effort wasn’t enough as the Thunder continued the road trip with a low-scoring loss at Milwaukee Friday.
- It was a better defensive effort as OKC held the second-highest scoring team in the league to its second-lowest output of the season. The game was played at an extremely slow pace as both teams combined for just seven fast-break points.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo was a major problem for the Thunder. He scored 29 points (10-for-20) and grabbed 19 rebounds with eight assists and three blocks.
- The Thunder never found a rhythm offensively. Gilgeous-Alexander again looked a tad off in his second game back from nursing a left knee sprain. The team shot 37% from the field and 52% from the free-throw line and gave up 61 rebounds.
THUNDER 117, CAVALIERS 101
OKC snapped its three-game losing skid with a win over Cleveland Sunday night, the team’s fourth game in five nights to cap the week.
- Gilegous-Alexander returned to his normal self, scoring 31 points with nine assists and four rebounds. His performance Sunday - as well as his first 23 games - prompted questions postgame about his All-Star candidacy. Daignault and teammates clearly endorsed SGA’s bid.
- OKC’s second unit was a difference-maker. The Thunder scored 42 points off the bench compared to Cleveland’s nine. Diallo and Muscala combined for 28 points and seven boards.
- OKC was cooking offensively, scoring over 30 points in three of the four quarters while shooting 54% overall and 46% from the three-point range. The team also went 18-for-24 from the stripe.
-Jarrett Allen scored a career-high 26 points with 17 rebounds. Nine of those boards were on the offensive end. The big man has been stellar for the Cavs since being traded away from the Brooklyn Nets.
A LOOK AHEAD
MON: v. Miami (13-17) L 118-90
- The Eastern Conference champs come to town after knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are both averaging over 19 points per game.
WED: v. San Antonio (16-11) Last Meeting: L 112-102
- The Spurs have bounced back from last season, currently sitting in sixth in the Western Conference. They have seven players averaging over 10 points per game, led by DeMar DeRozan at 19.8.
FRI: v. Atlanta (13-17) Last Meeting: W 140-111 (2019-20)
- Trae Young returns to Oklahoma averaging 26.8 points and 9.5 assists per game. The Hawks are coming off a 123-115 win over Denver Sunday.
SAT: v. Denver (16-14) - Last Meeting: L 97-95
- Denver has lost three of four games coming into the week and has fallen to seventh in the Western Conference standings. Nikola Jokic is one of the top contenders for MVP so far this year, averaging 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game.