Game Recap: OKC vs. DAL
By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com
THE BIG PICTURE
Despite facing a large deficit, the Thunder once again proved its resilience and refused to go down without a fight against the Mavericks. Dallas walked away with a 95-86 victory, but not before OKC forced a fourth-quarter battle with less than a minute left in the game. The Thunder’s defense kept the contest within striking distance, holding Dallas to just 95 points and Thunder rookie Josh Giddey made history as the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.
MOMENTS FROM THE 48
Giddey’s Historic Triple-Double
In his first game back from health and safety protocols, Thunder rookie Josh Giddey made history as he became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple double. The 19-year-old rookie made an impact all over the floor as he logged 17 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds against the Mavericks. The rookie’s 14 assists not only marked a career high, but also the most by a rookie in OKC history.
The Australia native hardly skipped a beat in his return to the lineup after missing the previous three games. Giddey shot 7-of-16 from the field and 3-of-5 from the 3-point line and defensively, the 6-foot-8 guard used his acumen and wingspan to tie his career-high with four steals.
“Growth comes with experience and learning,” said Giddey. “I'm learning every game and I'm happy with where I'm at and the progress we're making as a team.”
“Josh is a competitor. Tonight, he just got lost in the competition,” said Thunder acting head coach Mike Wilks. “It’s just a result of his will, his focus to go out there and compete and make plays. He's developing into a complete player.”
The Thunder’s offense struggled in finding a consistent rhythm throughout the night. The group showed aggressiveness in attacking downhill to the paint and getting to the rim but couldn’t convert many of the looks generated from the paint touches and ball movement.
Despite the Thunder’s start-stop offense, its defense kept the game from getting completely out of reach. Coming into the night, Dallas averaged the second fewest turnovers of any team in the league at just 12.1 per night. Against the Thunder, Dallas logged 16 miscues resulting in 14 extra points for the Thunder.
“Our guys did a good job of being connected on the defensive end and giving multiple efforts,” said Wilks. “I thought defensively we were solid and we gave ourselves a chance.”
Defensively, Thunder two-way rookie Aaron Wiggins had the toughest assignment of the night in defending Luka Dončić who was reinserted into the lineup after missing the previous 10 games. Dončić scored 14 points while logging seven turnovers on the night.
“I was just trying to give my best effort make sure I made him work for every point he got,” said Wiggins. “He's really great player. So I did all I could, but he's a tough guard for sure.”
Fourth Quarter Push
OKC was down 10 with 4:17 left in the fourth quarter after chipping away at what had been a 15-point lead just four minutes earlier. On the Thunder bench during the timeout, the team looked around at each other and smiled. “Forty-eight minutes” was the motto of the huddle.
Despite missing five of its players and its head coach due to health and safety protocols and injuries, the Thunder’s cultural identity of competitiveness and resilience remained ever present and wouldn’t allow for letting go of the rope.
Coming out of the timeout. The Thunder clawed and fought to bring the game down to just a four-point margin with 41.3 seconds left in the ball game. A 3-pointer by Josh Giddey and an offensive rebound put back by Isaiah Roby brought the Paycom Center crowd to its feet and gave the Thunder a window of hope with less than a minute left.
On the following possession however, Maxi Kleber drained a dagger straightaway 3-pointer that put Dallas ahead by seven points with 24 seconds remaining and put the Thunder just out of reach.
“We have a resilient group,” said Wilks. “They're a very optimistic, young group that's feisty and is going to keep fighting to the wire. I was proud of those guys for not giving up, they came back out and just kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance.”
The Last Word
“We always say want to be a 48-minute team. So the fact that we didn't lay down, we were able to come back and give ourselves a chance is big.”— Isaiah Roby on the fourth-quarter fight
The Thunder will have two days of practice before a road-home mini-series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team will head out to Minneapolis for a Wednesday matchup against the Wolves before facing them again on Friday in Paycom Center.