Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
(Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder)

Reporters' Notebook: OKC 118, LAC 110

By Nick Gallo and Paris Lawson |

Highlights: OKC 118, LAC 110

The Big Picture

OKC’s mini-series against the Clippers came to a close on Thursday night inside of Paycom Center. Even though it was the same team as two nights ago, it was a completely different challenge against an LA team who added Paul George back into the rotation after missing Tuesday night with an illness. 

OKC led by as many as 18 in the first half, but a lopsided second quarter sent the Thunder into the locker room down seven points at halftime. It took a resilient third quarter effort and a scrappy fight in crunch to walk away with a 118-110 win and the series sweep over the Clippers.

1st Quarter

Nick: All five guys on the court can and should be playmakers for the Thunder to keep opponents on their toes. Lu Dort did an excellent job as a secondary creator on a first quarter possession when he used a pump fake on the left wing to draw a fly by, then drove to the middle of the lane. On the weak side was 2nd year guard Aaron Wiggins, who used a perfectly timed baseline cut to slip free from his defender for a reverse layup and two easy points. That type of free flow offense has resulted in a 30-12 lead for the Thunder to start the game and nine assists on OKC’s first 14 made baskets. 

Paris: There are several moments in a game that the Thunder deems “Moments of Truth.” It’s a time when the Thunder has to answer the call at the rim to take away an easy look. Already in this game, the Thunder has risen to the occasion multiple times against the 7-foot presence of Ivica Zubac who has been met with multiple bodies at the rim on every single one of his shot attempts. Whether the play resulted in a block or a foul, it’s a physical play that is worth more than just two points on a score board – it sends a message to their opponent that those looks aren’t going to come easy. 

2nd Quarter

Nick: Over the first three-plus seasons of his career, Darius Bazley has continued to find ways to leverage his incredible athleticism into meaningful production on the floor. Bazley blocked two 3-point attempts by the Clippers, drawing gasps from the Paycom Center crowd. He then leapt to keep an offensive rebound alive, tracked it down and got fouled to maintain possession for his team. By the end of the night, Bazley registered a season-high-tying three blocks.

3rd Quarter

Nick: Excellent response by the Thunder coming out of halftime, as OKC shook off a 21-5 Clippers sput with a 7-0 run of its own to tie up the game. Even without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who picked up four fouls in the first half, the Thunder got playmaking from all five guys on the floor and buckled down on defense to get the game back to neutral. 

Paris: Six points for Lu Dort in the opening five minutes of the third quarter – a floater, a mid-range stop and pop and a tip-in putback adds to Dort’s season high 21 points for the night. The fourth-year wing has answered the Clippers’ increased defensive pressure with his own physicality and has found his spots around the rim to finish with an efficient 9-15 from the field. 

4th Quarter

Paris: Something very interesting in tonight’s game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander attacks the basket and gets fouled hard, sending him to the free throw line. His attempts mark the first and second free throw attempts of the entire game. The Thunder were 0-0 from the charity stripe until the 10:22 mark of the fourth quarter. By the end of the night, the Thunder registered just eight free throw attempts which marked just the ninth time in OKC history where the Thunder has finished with single digit free throw attempts. Coincidentally, the last time the Thunder registered single digit attempts was against the Clippers on April 10, 2022.

Nick: Great defensive sequence by Aleksej Pokuševski in a high leverage moment, blocking Ivica Zubac on a second chance opportunity, then squaring up to defend Paul George on the perimeter and forcing a missed 3-pointer. A minute later, Pokuševski buried a 3 on the right wing on a pass from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to give the Thunder a crucial 106-102 lead with just under five minutes to go. 

Quotes of the Night

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on responding to the second game of the mini-series…

“I thought we played the right way tonight for the most part. We did the things that got us a ‘W’ in the first game. We played hard, played together, defended, tried to get out in transition. I think we had some good carryover and it resulted in a ‘W’.”

Lu Dort on what the game required compared to the first matchup…

“I felt like we had to be tougher. We had the same approach we had last game. They added another guy that wasn’t there last game, but we did a good job just playing hard, moving the ball and competing.”

What's Next

The Thunder hits the road for a quick trip to Dallas to take on the Mavericks Saturday night at 8 p.m. CT.

The Walkout: OKC 118, LAC 110

Thursday's Photos