In a battle of two bottom five teams in terms of record, the Detroit Pistons collected a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-104.
Aesthetically speaking, this game sure did look like it was played between two of the worst teams in the league. Just ugly basketball all around and especially from the Thunder, who shot a poor 40.6%, which included going 7-of-39 (18.4%) from three. OKC also finished with more turnovers (21) than assists (19) this game.
The only Thunder players who had good games were players who have a shot at being here for the long haul in Lu Dort and Darius Bazley.
Dort led the team in scoring with 26 points, attacking the basket, and scoring on his drives. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault mentioned pregame that Dort could improve his finishing abilities to improve his footwork and time his gather step better, as he usually gathers too early.
Saturday’s game saw Dort show some improvements with his driving game as he could finish better around the rim than in previous games.
Since returning from a shoulder injury, Bazley has played a lot more aggressively with his scoring.
A big complaint about Bazley’s season has been his hesitance to shoot the ball. Well, tonight, Bazley was far from gun shy as he finished with 19 points on the 7-of-18 shooting. Bazley could not make his threes as he went 1-of-10, but his drives to the basket were more ferocious and loud compared to how they were in the early portions of the season.
Overall, this is a positive sign as Bazley will have the remaining 16 games to finish his sophomore season positively.
Theo Maledon struggled this game as he matched up against his fellow French rookie point guard Killian Hayes, who showed his defensive potential by locking down Maledon all game.
The elephant in the room is that both these franchises seem to be more concerned about winning ping pongs than winning games. If you are a person who is more concerned about that, then tonight was a great loss.
The Pistons have the third-worst record in the NBA, percentage-wise.
Meanwhile, the Thunder now solely owns the fifth-worst record in the NBA. Losing tonight’s game was crucial in the Thunder’s efforts to catch up to the Pistons in the loss column, and with tonight’s result, that becomes a little bit more achievable.
The Thunder have 16 games to make up for three games in the standings against the Pistons. While that is still a hard task to overcome, tonight’s loss makes that goal more realistic than it would have been in the alternative result that occurred.
Something that should help the effort will be if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is unavailable for the rest of the season. And considering that Daigneault said that SGA is still behind his timetable for a return and that he will miss at least additional two weeks, this could become the case.
The best-case scenario is that SGA returns two weeks from now, which would mean he would have a chance to play the season's final nine games. But I seriously doubt the Thunder would let SGA play if there was a nonzero chance he could reaggravate his plantar fasciitis, especially with the sudden increase of injuries seen around the league due to the compressed schedule teams have played.
Next Game: Thunder travel to Tampa Bay to play the Raptors on Sunday.