Summer League Recap: Thunder vs. Pistons



ORLANDO – Just as it had hoped, the Thunder’s gradual and consistent improvement during the week in Summer League paid off.

By taking lessons from its games on Monday and Tuesday against the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, the Thunder executed and performed at a high level as a team in its 83-62 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday afternoon. Summer League Head Coach Mark Bryant was proud of the way his squad has improved each day here in Orlando, and hopes that will carry over into the next two days as well as the players continue to grow and develop.

“I think this is a day-to-day process,” Bryant said. “The guys are starting to understand their defensive roles, and just the intensity throughout the whole game was pretty good. Intensity, and they’re getting comfortable with our defense.”

The Thunder switched on ball screens between the one through four positions on the floor, which really helped contain the Pistons and force 23 turnovers. Meanwhile, Cole Aldrich was making his presence felt by flashing hard on pick-and-rolls and recovering back, preventing both a drive and a pass. Whether it was jumping in the passing lanes to get steals or altering shots with its length, the Thunder harassed the Pistons offense all afternoon.

“It was definitely a great effort for our guys all around the floor,” Bryant said. “We went small ball and it helped us out a great deal. We were moving the ball a lot, and we got open shots. We got a lot of deflections, we were good on defense.”

This week as a whole is all about player development, so in a setting where new players have come in and have joined guys like Lazar Hayward, Reggie Jackson and Aldrich who have been with the Thunder for a while, it could be disjointing at first. The team and players have committed to working hard this week, playing the right way and trying to develop aspects of their game, and it’s starting to work. Shooting guard Garrett Temple, who scored 15 points against Detroit, believes that the Thunder coaching and basketball operations staffs do a great job of helping its young players in settings like this one.

“The Thunder has a great staff,” Temple said. “Every day you can learn to get better, no matter if you’ve been there 10 years or three years. I’ve just been learning defensive schemes, offensive schemes, just listening, learning and playing. … Hopefully I can continue to get better, and as a team we can continue to get better.”

Temple’s offensive burst was predicated on his shooting, though, where he went 5-for-9 from the floor including 2-for-5 from 3-point land. In addition, he created six steals by using his length and intelligence to turn over his opponent. Another bright spot today was the play of Dwight Buycks, the former Marquette guard who spent the last year with the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA D-League. The lightning quick, shifty Buycks scored 11 points in just under 11 minutes of playing time, on an efficient 4-for-6 shooting.

“I think those guys are competitive, they know how to play,” Bryant said. “Garrett Temple has been in the league before. He knows how to play, he knows all the tricks. And Dwight is just a smart point guard that knows the ins-and-outs, knows the angles and knows how to get there.”

The game turned at the end of the first half, as the Thunder embarked on a 10-2 run to close out the second quarter. Leading 32-27 with 4:06 remaining, Reggie Jackson knocked down a jumper, Garrett Temple and Lazar Hayward each knocked down a free throw, Cole Aldrich got a layup, Hayward knocked down two more free throws and then Dwight Buycks capped off the half with a driving layup. During the stretch, the Thunder defense forced seven missed shots and two turnovers to push the lead out for good.

Great anticipation by Cole Aldrich to jump the passing lane and make a steal… Reggie Jackson drives and kicks to Garrett Temple in the corner for a three pointer… Latavious Williams fights on the offensive boards to grab a rebound and draw the foul… Aldrich’s length disrupts a pass and causes a run out for Temple, then Morris Almond gets in the passing lane to force a turnover… Almond with a nice driving bank shot… Marquez Haynes steps up and hits an elbow jumper then flies across the lane to make a steal… John Holland makes a smart foul to prevent a sure dunk… Tough rebounding from Aldrich, then Williams skies for an offensive board to get Aldrich a lefty layup… Great positioning by Lazar Hayward to be in the right spot to take a charge and then stand his ground.

Big block by Williams and Aldrich on a driving layup attempt… Another swat by Aldrich, then Williams hustles and follows up a fast break with a slam dunk… Aldrich tips a loose rebound to Jackson, then Hayward uses a step-through dribble to get to the bucket… Great touch on a pitch-ahead pass from Jackson to Temple for a layup… Nice step-back jumper from Dwight Buycks, then Gary McGhee comes down with a big board… Buycks saves a possession by smartly throwing the ball off an opponent… Nice offensive rebound and putback by Morris Almond as the quarter clock expires…Great effort and energy on the offensive glass by Ryan Reid to get a putback… A high flying rebound by John Holland on the offensive end, who immediately dumps it to Aldrich for a layup… Aldrich impacts a shot in the lane, then Hayward demands the ball, posts up his man and creates an opportunity to get to the free throw line… Aldrich hedges out strongly on two pick and rolls, then makes an acrobatic catch and finish on a hook shot in the lane… Buycks drives the lane, stops on a dime and knocks in a fall away jumper… Temple snags a rebound then rewards Aldrich for running the floor, by hitting him for a hook shot.

5 Assists for Reggie Jackson to go with his 15 points and seven rebounds
11 Points for Dwight Buycks on 4-for-6 shooting, along with two steals
10 Points for Cole Aldrich, along with two blocks and seven rebounds
15 Points for Garrett Temple on 5-for-9 shooting in addition to six steals
18-2 Fast break points advantage for the Thunder
19-9 Second chance points advantage for the Thunder
24-13 Points off turnovers edge for the Thunder
42-22 Points in the paint edge for the Thunder

The Thunder's Summer League team will face the Brooklyn Nets at noon CT on Thursday. The game will air live on NBA-TV.

The Thunder then plays the Utah Jazz at 7 a.m. CT on Friday.