Lu Dort
(Jimmy Do | OKC Thunder)

Recap: Thunder vs. 76ers

Highlights: OKC vs. PHI


Box Score: OKC vs. PHI

By Nick Gallo and Paris Lawson |

The Big Picture

The Thunder came into Saturday night’s New Year’s Eve contest against the Philadelphia 76ers with 26-straight games scoring at least 100 or more points, the NBA's longest active streak. As the team turned the calendar to 2023 and rang in the New Year with its faithful Thunder family at Paycom Center like it does each year, it was a chance to reflect on the growth the team has made, and the ability to put together a streak like that, which would have been unlikely the last two seasons. 

After a stretch of extremely close games and clutch-time battles, shootouts and scoring barrages, the Thunder’s offense just didn’t have it on the final night of 2022, ending that streak. Low-scoring nights have been very rare for the Thunder this season, as OKC has shown a remarkable level of consistency as the NBA's youngest team. 

After a 16-4 start, Philadelphia led by as many as 33 in the first half and despite a few charges by the Thunder in the second, third and fourth quarters, OKC couldn’t slice the lead to a smaller margin than 17. The result was a 115-96 76ers victory. 

First Quarter

Paris: Josh Giddey was responsible for the Thunder’s first six points of the ball game and all of his looks came in the paint. The attacks to the basket were a continuation of the focus for Giddey to hunt more opportunities around the rim that could lead to more trips to the free throw line. In his last game against Charlotte, Giddey set a new career-high with seven-made free throws. 

Nick: As he’s done all season long Shai Gilgeous-Alexander turned a corner and drove downhill through the middle of the lane, but instead of going to a Eurostep or a floater, Shai went straight into the chest of Danuel House, bullying his way to the rim for an exhilarating two-handed dunk. That was Shai’s 21st dunk of the season, the second-most of his career and two shy of tying his career-high. Shai scored eight of his 14 total points in the first quarter in this one. 

Second Quarter

Paris: Jalen Willians attacked the left side of the floor, but instead of finishing on the left side of the rim, the rookie kept his foot on the gas and finished a reverse on the opposite side. Williams was responsible for five-straight Thunder points out of a timeout and both of his baskets came off of quick-strike offensive actions. Williams went into halftime with nine points and finished the night with 17 on six of 10 shooting. 

Nick: The Thunder had a nice sequence coming right out of a timeout, with Kenrich Williams finishing off a second chance with a layup down low, one of six rebounds Kenny Hustle racked up in the first half alone. After a turnover by Philadelphia’s Shake Milton, Tre Mann stayed alert and tracked down a loose ball in the left corner and immediately hoisted it up. The makeshift catch-and-shoot 3-point look dropped and gave the Thunder a quick 5-0 burst to provide a boost as OKC tried to claw back from a big deficit. 

Third Quarter

Paris: Joel Embiid sent a bad pass back out to the perimeter and the ball went flying into the backcourt. Lu Dort scorched out in a full sprint up the sideline to chase down the ball. Dort picked up the loose change and finished a layup in transition. It was the second loose ball that Dort recovered in the matchup and brought his total up to 32 loose balls recovered this season – a top-five mark in the NBA. 

Nick: The Thunder doesn’t play the scoreboard, it plays the next possession and one third quarter defensive sequence exemplified the type of focus and cohesion the team is looking for. After a kick-out pass by Philadelphia, the Thunder executed a weakside x-out, as Isaiah Joe rushed from the wing to the right corner to deny a shot attempt, then Jalen Williams dashed to the right wing to close out against Georges Niang, who caught the extra pass up the sideline. The result was a late shot clock contested 3-pointer that went long. Rookie Jaylin Williams, making his second career NBA start and ninth overall appearance this season, snapped up the rebound with authority. 

Fourth Quarter

Nick: Kenrich Williams blocked Tobias Harris not once, but twice on the same post up attempt at the left elbow. The Thunder made six blocks and seven steals in the contest, right at its season average for steals-and-blocks combined per game. Even though the 76ers were productive on offense, the Thunder dug in defensively and tried to scrap even when its offense wasn’t quite humming the way it normally does. 

Paris: Coming out of a timeout with five minutes left in the fourth, Mark Daingeault implemented a lineup featuring total sharpshooters with Isaiah Joe, Lindy Waters III and Tre Mann. On his very first possession, Waters cashed in a 3-pointer at the top of the key on a hand-off from Jaylin Williams. But 3-point shooting wasn’t the only contribution from Waters in the minutes he played on the floor – he also blocked Paul Reed on the defensive end and earned a pair of free throws after getting fouled in transition.


“You never want to be down 30, but if you are you want to keep playing and I thought we did that tonight. Every guy, the effort in the second half was there. Nobody was letting go of the rope. It just obviously was was too much to overcome because of the start. The lesson is that we don't want to give that energy in a 30 point game. We want to give that energy at the beginning of the game and give ourselves a chance. We've done that for much of the year. Tonight was a little bit of an outlier in that sense.” —Coach Daigneault

“We weren't good to start the game on both ends of the floor. I think they got a lot of open looks and boards. They made shots,  but our offense was too stagnant. We didn't get enough looks. We spoke pregame about getting out and making them run. We didn't do it early and we didn't do it a lot of the game. So, a slow start and you can't afford that against an experienced team like Philly.” —Josh Giddey 

What's Next

After ringing in the New Year at Paycom Center against the 76ers, the Thunder will stay in Oklahoma City for one more game, on Tuesday against the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. That game is the front end of a home-road back-to-back, with the Thunder heading east to Orlando for a game on Wednesday night.

The Walkout: OKC vs. PHI

Saturday's Photos

By Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder