Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
(Coby Van Loan | OKC Thunder)

Game Recap: Thunder vs. Celtics

Highlights: OKC vs. BOS

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter |



Thunder took early punches from the Celtics before a furious fourth-quarter effort turned a 26-point deficit into a single-digit ball game. Though the Thunder fell shy of the full comeback, the team poured in 123 points on 51-percent shooting from the field against the league’s number one defense. Four players finished with 19 or more points including a pair of 30-point performances from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who logged 31 and rookie Tre Mann who finished with a career-high and Thunder rookie record 35 points.


Furious Fourth Quarter

Boston gained control of the ball game from the outset opening the game on a 13-0 run to build a double-digit lead that would last through the next three frames. As advertised, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 49 points through the first three quarters serving as the engine to Boston’s offense. 

The Celtics built up a lead of as many as 26 points early in the fourth quarter after pouring in 43 points in the third. However, in a flashback to its matchup against the Celtics back in November, the Thunder didn’t let go of the rope that easily. 

The Thunder outscored Boston 39 to 24 in the fourth quarter and shaved the margin down to just seven points. The rally was fueled by a mixture of stingy defense and aggressive, quick-fire offense where even off made baskets the Thunder charged out in transition, scoring the ball with just seconds lost off the shot clock. 

OKC’s defense ramped up the intensity on Brown and Tatum and limited the duo to a combined three made field goals. Darius Bazley, who finished with 22 points, had the most emphatic defensive play of the night as he completely erased a dunk attempt by Brown in the fourth quarter.  

Using speed to its advantage, the Thunder generated quality looks at the basket and went a perfect 10-for-10 on shots in the paint in the final frame. OKC sank 10 consecutive buckets in the final minutes – capped off by a layup from rookie Tre Mann with 55 seconds left to make it a seven-point ball game. 

Boston called a timeout to draw up a play and advance the ball. On the next possession, OKC forced a late-shot-clock 3-pointer by Brown that missed off the rim, but Grant Williams swooped in for the loose change and drew a foul on the rebounding effort. 

After Williams’ two made free throws, the Thunder trailed by nine points with just 27 seconds left to go in the game – enough for the Celtics to hold off the comeback and walk away with a 132-123 win. 

“The group that started the fourth quarter got us off to a nice start get the game enough of a striking distance that we could get Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] and some of the other guys back out there,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “We ran through the finish line. I thought we really, really competed tonight against obviously a very good team. Things we can improve on, but I'm pretty pleased with the competitive level.”

Mann’s Career Night

Tre Mann added his name to the Thunder record books multiple times throughout the night. For the game, Mann finished with a career-high 35 points which marks the most points by a rookie in Thunder history and the second most points by a rookie this season. It was the second quarter that fueled the rookie’s scoring outburst. 

Mann dropped five 3-pointers in the second frame alone which marked the most by a rookie in OKC history and the most by a rookie this season. Mann finished the frame with 23 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field marking the new Thunder rookie record for points in a quarter – surpassing the record he set himself just two games prior with 20 points in the second quarter against the Heat. 

(NBA Courtside)

“It was crazy. I can't do nothing but like smile. I was trying to hold it in and stay serious, but it was crazy,” said Mann. “This is all God though, because I just had a bad game last game at home. I didn't shoot it well, and tonight I come in shoot six for six. Did the same thing, same routine and shots just fell for me.”

“One of the best things about going against elite teams is that everything's relevant,” said Daigneault. “I've said that before. And so the fact that he can kind of wiggle around like that against these types of teams is really encouraging.”

Poku’s Season High

In addition to Mann, Thunder forward Aleksej Pokuševski logged a season high with 19 points on 7-for-13 from the field, but it wasn’t smooth sailing for the 7-footer all game long. In the first half, Pokuševski logged just two points on 1-of-6 from the field. 

In the next two frames the Serbian big man only missed one shot. Pokuševski poured in 17 points in 17 minutes on an efficient 6-of-7 from the field including a perfect 3-for-3 performance from deep. 

“I thought he showed some fortitude after halftime to kind of get himself back to square zero and just kind of play the next play and get himself grounded,” said Daigneault. 

“Just getting back to the things that get me going,” explained Pokuševski. “Defense, stops, rebounds, energy plays. I think that was the thing.”


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on what made the fourth quarter effort special…

“We tried to win. We tried to compete. I think we just tried to go out with a bang. But I expect that from this team every night, no matter the circumstance, we're gonna give it our all going down the final stretches.”


The Thunder will have a day off before returning to Paycom Center on Wednesday to take on the Orlando Magic for the second time in four days.