GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer
July 8th, 2013
ORLANDO – Just like the regular Thunder roster, Oklahoma City’s Summer League team has a never-say-die attitude.
Down as many as 12 points and by nine with just 2:38 remaining, the Thunder pulled off a furious rally to snatch a 79-78 victory over the Orlando Magic in its second Summer League contest of the week. Moving to 2-0 so far in Orlando, the Thunder feels confident about its approach and process, regardless of the result on the scoreboard – whether it had won or lost today. Thunder assistant coach Rex Kalamian is at the helm of the Summer League squad, and he was proud of the way his team stayed the course and believed in itself even in the face of adversity.
“We knew coming into this that there were going to be ups and downs,” Kalamian said. “There are ups and downs within a game and ups and downs within a week. We just have to really maintain what we’re doing, stay steady and keep improving.”
Three-pointers from Kyle Kuric and Dwight Buycks helped set the stage for big moments for two of the Thunder’s young wing players. Andre Roberson and Jeremy Lamb were instrumental in forcing two late turnovers, and then trailing by one with under 10 seconds remaining, the ball found its way into Lamb’s hands for a crucial play. The second-year guard drove right with long Magic wing Mo Harkless on his hip, then stopped short on the drive to create space, dribbled once behind his back and nailed a jumper to put the Thunder ahead for good.
“I’ve been working on a lot of different moves,” Lamb said. “I didn’t even realize I did it until after I did it. I was just going and I saw the help coming, so I put it behind my back. I was able to create space so I shot it.”
Lamb’s shot was crucial, but even if it had lipped out, the Thunder put itself in position to win thanks to tough defense that held the Magic to just 37.1 percent shooting, including 2-for-11 from three, 1-for-5 in transition and 12-for-16 in the paint. Two steals by Roberson in the final 1:40 of play came thanks to a smaller lineup that featured the Grant Jerrett at the center position with Buycks, Lamb, Roberson and Kuric to quickly double in the paint and get back out to shooters.
The Thunder’s speedy hands were able to make things tough on Orlando for just long enough to wrestle control of the game away through getting stops and getting out in transition, where it scored 16 fast break points. Kalamian’s squad could have rolled over, particularly after a difficult shooting afternoon, but it stood tall together and gutted out a win.
“It got us a little more aggressive and we came up with a steal or two,” Kalamian said. “I think it put the Magic back on their heels a little bit. They turned the ball over and we were able to come up with a couple scores and get back into the game quickly.”
“We were being resilient and we kept playing,” Lamb said. “We were able to grind it out and that was big.”
As a microcosm, this game summed up what is often true of Summer League. There are plenty of positives and many things to work on both individually and as a unit, but the attitude, intensity and determination that the Thunder’s main squad is known for is always required. Today the Thunder showed that fighting spirit, and followed the lead of its coaching staff to focus on the way it plays the game, as opposed to the specific result.
“Anytime we can just maintain and keep fighting through the process of being up and being down and not worrying about the scoreboard,” Kalamian said. “More worry about how we play. For us tonight it was more about us sticking to our principles and our rules and getting it done in the long run.”
The Thunder trailed 68-58 with just 5:10 remaining in the fourth quarter on Monday, but many players after the game said that it was Grant Jerrett’s three-pointer with 4:58 remaining that helped spark the team to a late rally.
Still trailing 74-65 with 2:38 remaining, Dwight Buycks made a steal and then hit Ron Anderson for a layup, then after a timeout Buycks found Kyle Kuric for a big three-point jumper to pull the Thunder within four. After Andre Roberson made a steal, Jeremy Lamb hit two free throws before finding Buycks for a transition three-pointer, which gave the Thunder its first lead since the first quarter. The Magic sandwiched four free throws around a nifty Buycks driving layup, setting the stage for Lamb’s big pull-up jumper that gave the Thunder the victory.
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Beautiful pocket pass by Jeremy Lamb to Daniel Orton for a dunk in the lane. Great awareness by Reggie Jackson to throw a full-court pass to Orton for a dunk. Slick no-look pass from Lamb after he got trapped to Andrew Smith to draw a foul. Excellent extra effort by Orton to tip in his own miss after grabbing an offensive rebound. Roberson stays in the jersey of his man to force a turnover.
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Roberson plays the ball off the backboard and goes up to get his own rebound, then puts it in. Ryan Reid dives on the floor for a loose ball to draw a jump ball. Nice anticipation by Jerrett to jump back into the passing lane and intercept a ball. Roberson hustles back to make a two handed block in transition to save a basket.
Rebounds for Andre Roberson, helping the Thunder to a 35-31 rebounding edge
Players who saw minutes and got into the scoring column for the Thunder
Points for Grant Jerrett, who led the Thunder in scoring for the second straight game
The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points on the day, where it shot 6-for-8
Assists by the Thunder as a team on Monday, including four each from Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson
The amount by which the Thunder outscored the Magic in the fourth quarter
The Thunder’s advantage in points in the paint, where it shot 17-for-27 and held the Magic to 12-for-26 shooting
Shooting percentage for the Thunder, compared to just 37.1 percent for the Magic
The Thunder's Summer League team will face the Detroit Pistons at noon CT on Tuesday. The game will air on NBA-TV. In this game, the Thunder will be wearing special uniforms to honor those impacted by the May tornadoes that swept through Oklahoma City and the surrounding area. The Thunder will wear the jersey for all of its “home” contests during Summer League action. The jersey features an outline of the state of Oklahoma, with a Thunder logo in the center.
The Thunder plays against the Philadelphia 76ers at noon on Wednesday, has an off day on Thursday and plays its final game on Friday against an opponent based on seeding after the Thursday games.