featured-image
(Jimmy Do | OKC Thunder)

The Drive and Dish | Feb. 29, 2024

Kenrich’s Corner 3’s, Hayward in Position

By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter and Digital Editor | okcthunder.com

OKC’s Second-Half Defense, a Barrage from K-Rich, Hayward Showing his Intuition and more! 

The Drive and Dish is here to answer the questions that might be going through your head during a Thunder game by providing experienced insight, highlighting aspects of the game you might have missed and pulling you behind the curtain with anecdotes, analysis, and stats.   

Here’s what you need to know as the Thunder prepares for four consecutive road games against Western Conference foes, including a battle tonight with the San Antonio Spurs. 

Second-Half Defense

In the Thunder’s four games since the All-Star Break, the team has allowed fewer than 50 points in each second half – a total of just 190 points allowed across those four second halves. Those stout second halves would extrapolate to 11 points per game fewer than the lowest scoring team in the league, which averages 106.5 points per game. 

After holding the Rockets to 7-of-25 shooting and eight turnovers in the third quarter down in Houston on Sunday night, OKC turned right back around and limited the same foe to just 45 points in the entire second half on Tuesday night. 

For the 42nd time this season the Thunder had at least five blocks and five steals in the game, racking up 20 combined stocks to sweep the Rockets – the same number they had to start this post-All-Star stretch against the Clippers. 

Chet the Screener

Speaking of that victory against the Clippers, there was an unsung play by Chet Holmgren that stood out in the midst of some dominant performances over the last week. Since the All-Star Break, Holmgren has been averaging 22.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 61.8 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from three-point range. He even had 19 fourth quarter points against the Rockets on the road, but one of the best plays he’s made recently came when he didn’t get the basket or make the assist. 

Early in the fourth quarter with the Thunder up 16 on the Western Conference powerhouse LA Clippers, Chet set a random, instinctual screen around the elbow, which freed up Josh Giddey to attack the right side and score, plus the foul at the rim. Holmgren has seen more and more of “the pictures” as head coach Mark Daigneault has noted, and the result is more opportunities for him to anticipate how he can help his team, like freeing up Josh for a bucket that created massive separation on the scoreboard. 

A couple of possessions later, Holmgren then freed up Jalen Williams to step into a 3-pointer as OKC rode out a 129-107 victory. 

Kenrich’s Corner Barrage

Every game has its own personality, and it’s often shaped by which role players step up and deliver throughout the game or in crucial moments. In the Thunder’s 41-point rout over the Washington Wizards, OKC broke free in the later stages of the first quarter and it wasn’t just one player, but one player on one spot on the floor that helped ignite the rally that put the Thunder into overdrive. 

On three consecutive possessions, Kenrich Williams spotted up in the left corner and awaited a pass and on all three his teammates delivered to him for an in-rhythm catch-and-shoot look. He made all three, taking OKC’s lead from 26-23 to 35-25 in the span of just a couple of minutes. For the season, Kenrich has shot above 40 percent from behind the arc, continuing to be effective as a play finisher for this group. 

Hayward in the Right Spot

When the Thunder made the trade for Gordon Hayward, Daigneault said the Thunder isn’t looking for the 14-year veteran to be a chaperone to a young team, but just to be an additive piece to what the organization already has rolling in OKC. With his versatility on both ends of the floor and experience in the league, Hayward is looking to slot into a role and build back up after missing seven weeks with a calf strain.

Early on in his Thunder tenure he hasn’t been asked to play with the ball in his hands a ton or to dominate possessions, but Hayward is still finding ways to make an impact. He’s averaging 4.5 rebounds per game in just 14.8 minutes, nearly the same number of boards he was snapping up in 31.9 minutes per night with Charlotte earlier this year. Defensively Hayward has been in the right spots, with a prime example coming in his help side positioning on a roll by Clippers center Ivica Zubac clast Thursday. Hayward was pinched in from the corner and completely blew up the Clippers possession purely by being early to his help spot. 

Dort’s Decisions: 

All season long, Daigneault has praised Lu Dort for his decision-making on the offensive end. In the 2021-22 season Dort averaged a career-best 17.2 points per game but shot just 40.4 percent from the field. And 33.2 percent from 3, with 1.7 turnovers per game. Those experiences were vital – it stretched the limits of Dort’s game and helped him become a multi-dimensional threat on offense. 

This year, Dort is shooting less and scoring less, about 10.7 points per game, but his efficiency is at an all-time high: 44 percent from the field and an incredible 40.1 percent from behind the arc with less than one turnover per game. When it comes to decision-making, Daigneault says that it’s not necessarily the types of shots or passes that Dort is making, it’s the ones he’s deciding not to make that have been so consequential this year. One such example came early in the Thunder’s 123-110 win at Houston, when Dort drove and got surrounded in the paint. Instead of forcing up a tough shot in traffic, Dort relied on what he’s learned about his own game and where his teammates should be on the floor and dished out to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was able to step into an open catch and shoot 15-footer. 

Looking Ahead 

Tonight’s game in San Antonio tips off at 7:30 p.m. CT, then the Thunder will head to Phoenix for the start of three games in four nights with a 8:30 p.m. tip-off against the Suns. Both games will be available on Bally Sports Oklahoma. Follow along on our @okcthunder social accounts and stay here on the Thunder App or okcthunder.com


  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | April 11, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | April 11, 2024

    A Possession with All Five, Shai Keeps His Options Open, Chet Comes off Curls and More! 

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | April 4, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | April 4, 2024

    Shai’s Big Jumper, Playing Opposing Bigs off the Floor, Cason’s Outside-Inside Attack and more!

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | March 28, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | March 28, 2024

    Lu Setting a Tone Right Away, OKC’s Defensive Rebounding Surge, Josh’s Efficiency and more!

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | March 21, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | March 21, 2024

    Creating Advantages, JDub Everywhere, Kenrich Being Kenrich and Chet’s Restraint

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | March 14, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | March 14, 2024

    Shai Hits 30-plus for the 48th Time, OKC Threads the Needle, Plus Josh and JWill Shine

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | March 7, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | March 7, 2024

    OKC’s Give-and-Go Action, Wings Accumulating Steals, Shai’s Cat-and-Mouse Game and More!

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | Feb. 29, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | Feb. 29, 2024

    OKC’s Second-Half Defense, a Barrage from K-Rich, Hayward Showing his Intuition and more! 

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | Feb. 15, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | Feb. 15, 2024

    OKC’s Consistent Defense, Some Team Transactions, and looking ahead to All-Star Weekend 

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | Feb. 8, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | Feb. 8, 2024

    Controlling the Controllables, Outlasting the Opposition, Moments that Matter and more!

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | Feb. 1, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | Feb. 1, 2024

    Rotation Players Providing a Spark, Shai Kicking Back for 3’s and more!

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | Jan. 25, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | Jan. 25, 2024

    Jalen’s Game-Winner, the Origins of 0 and 0, Jersey Retirements and more!

  • article-image: The Drive and Dish | Jan. 18, 2024

    The Drive and Dish | Jan. 18, 2024

    Continuing the road trip, transferring practice to the game, touchdown passes and more!