Despite the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder only played with eight players, the team was able to make this a game until the final buzzer. But ultimately, the team fell short and lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-103.
Let’s talk about Hamidou Diallo.
Coming into this game, Diallo has been a pleasant surprise for the team with his consistent performances along with having a career season in his third year in the league.
With so many players out, Diallo was the only true guard on the roster playing, and overall, he played well.
Diallo finished with 16 points and 10 assists. But he will most likely be remembered for this game for the last couple of possessions in the game.
The first one is a really bad miss in a transition opportunity where he developed tunnel vision and forced a shot up, and the second one being Diallo clanking the rim on a potential game-tying three-point attempt to end the game.
I understand that these types of clutch moments are what NBA fans remember the most about games, but a bad 20-second stretch should not take away from Diallo playing great the other 37 minutes.
Tonight’s game was mostly house money anyway as the Thunder just met the required minimum of eight bodies for tonight’s game.
Overall, Diallo stepped up and played great and did a fine job as a primary playmaker with a career-high in assists.
“I just really love the fact that he competes, he’s not scared, he’s not backing down to anyone,” said Al Horford about Diallo after the game.
The other Thunder player who really picked up the slack was Al Horford, who finished with 26 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
This was easily Horford’s best game this season. The team needed Horford’s scoring badly tonight and he delivered.
Plus-minus can be a very flawed stat when used in the wrong context, but the fact that Horford finished with a game-high +20 in 29 minutes shows that the Thunder managed to play competent basketball when he was on the floor despite so many of the main rotational players being out.
The other starters consisted of Darius Bazley, Isaiah Roby, and Kenrich Williams, who all played well tonight.
Bazley had another poor shooting game as he scored 12 points on 4-for-14 but was able to contribute in other ways as he grabbed 10 rebounds.
“It’s going to be two steps forward, one step back because of the number of responsibilities we’re giving him,” said Mark Daigneault about Bazley’s development this season.
Isaiah Roby continues to impress and show the league that he is a legit NBA player. Roby finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals.
Roby has been one of the biggest surprises this season as he has established himself to be a respectable rotation player for the team. Williams added 9 points and did a good job at being playable and being in the right spots.
The Thunder’s only three bench players all contributed positively as well. Sharpshooters Mike Muscala and Darius Miller combined for 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting from three. Jackson scored 7 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Overall, it hurts losing one-possession games like this, but considering the circumstances that the Thunder were missing three of their original starters plus their backup point guard, the fact that the team was able to make a game out of this is a good moral victory.
“Even though we lost, I think we took a step forward tonight,” said Daigneault.
Next Game: Thunder has a chance to redeem their loss Saturday as they take on the Timberwolves once again.