Aaron Wiggins
(Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder)

Game Recap: Thunder at Heat

Highlights: OKC at MIA

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com



The Thunder ran into a scorching hot Miami offense who shot at a 53-percent clip from the field through the first three quarters. OKC remained close after the opening frame, but the Heat surged outscoring the Thunder 76-53 over the second and third quarters to build up a lead of as many as 29 points. Though OKC ran through the finish line and received over 25 points from both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tre Mann, it wouldn’t be enough to keep pace with the Heat who walked away with a 120-108 victory. 


Game Flow 

The Thunder shook off a slow start falling behind by nine points thanks to an early barrage of Duncan Robinson 3-pointers. OKC chipped its way back into a one-point ball game at the end of the quarter with the help of 10 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and some impressive early contributions by the second unit. 

Behind an eruption of offense by Tre Mann, the Thunder tied the game and even took a brief lead two minutes into the second quarter. Miami answered with a second-chance 3-pointer from Max Strus that ignited a 13-5 run of its own that allowed the Heat to take control from that point on. Going into halftime, Miami led 69-54 and extended the lead 103-79 in the third quarter.

“I thought we could have done a better job of closing the half,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “They kept pressure on us and their biggest lead of the first half was right at the end. So certainly just not let the game get away from us, taking every possession as its own life and trying to win those possessions against a really good team.”

“They were playing their style of basketball and we didn’t make them uncomfortable,” said Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 

Despite the large deficit, the relentless Thunder didn’t let go of the rope outscoring the Heat 29 to 17 in the final 12 minutes. Aaron Wiggins led the way with 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 from the field as Aleksej Pokuševski chipped in eight of his own, but the Heat had already built up a wide enough buffer to hold off the Thunder for a 120-108 win. 

“We ran through the finish line tonight,” said Daigneault. “We continued to play and I was pleased that we were a 48-minute team tonight but obviously needed to be a little sharper against a really, really good team."

Mann Lights it Up

Florida native Tre Mann caught fire offensively in the second quarter. The rookie poured in 20 points on 8-of-11 from the field and 4-for-6 from the 3-point line by making decisive, quick decisions on the catch. The 20-point effort marked the most in a quarter by any rookie in the NBA this season while also setting an OKC rookie record for most points in a quarter. 

For the night, Mann finished with 25 points on 10-of-19 from the field while also pulling down a career-high-tying eight rebounds. 

“He was ready to shoot immediately and then read the close outs and really played off the catch as well as he has in a while, which is obviously been a huge emphasis for him and our team,” said Daigneault. “He got to go in there, kind of kept us afloat during that stretch the game. He played a really good game, especially the first half.”

“I was just being aggressive,” said Mann. “I saw a couple go in and just wanted to see how many I could make.”

Poku’s Double-Double

Thunder forward Aleksej Pokuševski finished the night with his third double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. The 7-footer stepped into his sixth start of the season and logged his seventh consecutive game with 10 or more points – the longest streak of his career. 

“He's been pretty consistent,” said Daigneault. “What's been consistent is the stuff that he can control every night. He's giving great effort and competing. He's playing a good floor game, a reliable floor game.”


Mark Daigneault on the importance of playing high-level teams like Miami…

“There's a lot we can learn from the game, a lot we can learn about our team, but we're gonna lean into any opportunity to get to compete against one of the best teams in the league. We're gonna lean into that fight. The guys did a decent job of that tonight."


The Thunder closes out its three-game road trip with a stop in Orlando on Sunday to face the Magic for the first time this season. The game marks the first night of a road-home back-to-back where the Thunder will return to Paycom Center on Monday to take on the Boston Celtics.