Summer League Recap: Thunder vs. Rockets
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer
July 12th, 2013
ORLANDO – The Thunder never judges itself by the result on the scoreboard, but rather the way the team plays on the floor. This week in Orlando, the Summer League team performed well in both areas.
With an 85-77 victory over the Houston Rockets in Friday’s Summer League Championship game, the Thunder finished its week with a 5-0 record and as the first ever official Champions of Summer League. Coach Rex Kalamian’s club used a methodical effort through the first three quarters to build a 20-point lead, but a furious rally by Houston cut the Thunder’s lead to within three with a minute and a half remaining. Thanks to stout defense and sharp free throw shooting down the stretch, the Thunder kept the Rockets at bay and held on for a full team victory.
“The last couple wins have been really good system wins for us,” Kalamian said. “Offensively and defensively we stayed within our system and we did the things that we talked about 12 days ago when we first came together.”
Jeremy Lamb led the way for the Thunder with 18 points and four assists, while Steven Adams added 12 points and nine rebounds. All nine Thunder players scored with five hitting double figures, including 12 from Daniel Orton as rookie Andre Roberson snagged a game-high 11 rebounds. As expected, there were ups and downs during the game and throughout the week, but the teamwork, effort and intensity was there not only Friday but all week long. Each day, the Thunder team and individual players improved, so the organization would have been content regardless of the outcome of Friday’s contest.
“What we wanted to do throughout the week was get stronger and better each day,” Kalamian said. “I think we did that throughout the week. We got a little bit better individually and as a team. We continued to learn and we got better and consequently we went 5-0 on the week. I’m real proud of these guys and their effort throughout the week.”
Continuing the development process for each player and integrating them into the Thunder’s culture is crucial moving forward, and this week was a nice jumping off point for that. Next on the docket will be honing that energy and effort, and as each player improves they will try to perform their role to the best of their ability on a day-in, day-out basis. Being able to replicate positive performances game-in and-game out is a skill within itself, and is something the Thunder values highly.
“A consistent NBA player is so much better and well-rounded for the season, for 82 games, than a guy who is up and down,” Kalamian said. “Consistent effort and consistency in bringing your game, whatever your skill is, try to bring it at the same level every single day. We were able to do that.”
The 5-0 week at Summer League is valued, but the use of these opportunities for playing time in the continued development of each player is what the organization was primarily pleased with. With about two-and-a-half months before training camp begins, this week more than anything provides a foundation for each player to work from and a baseline for the coaching staff to evaluate them. These six days in Orlando have been important for the Thunder, but what the players do each and every day for the rest of the summer will prove vital as well.
“I’m very happy with the week,” General Manager Sam Presti said. “Our coaches and players did a great job and as we’ve said in the past, this is now the starting point to the rest of the offseason to us.”
The Thunder broke open a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but after a 19-2 rally by the Rockets, Oklahoma City led only 78-75 with 1:35 remaining in the game. After a timeout, Tony Taylor drove to the basket and drew a foul, knocking down both shots. Taylor then drew another foul after Jeremy Lamb made a steal on the defensive end, knocking down one free throw. A Houston tip-in drew the Rockets to within four at 81-77 with 31.9 seconds remaining, but Taylor iced the game with four straight free throws, accounting for the Thunder’s final seven points.
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Steven Adams gets good position on the offensive glass to force a push-off foul on his opponent. Nice defense by Adams on the block, keeping his man in front and then contesting the shot. Beautiful drive and dish from DeAndre Liggins to Daniel Orton at the dunker spot, then Orton ties up his man for a jump ball. Solid defensive effort all around helps the Thunder force a shot clock violation. Smart move by DeAndre Liggins to pump fake and draw a foul.
PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Good hustle by Jeremy Lamb to curl around the screen and set up his defender to free himself up for a jumper. Nice backdoor cut by Lamb to get rid of his man then nice touch to finish the play. Smart, patient extra dribble by Ron Anderson down low to draw a foul and finish the bucket. Great feel of the defense on the drive by Kyle Kuric to draw two men and hit Orton for a dunk. Tony Taylor steps in and sacrifices his body to take a charge.
5-0 The Thunder’s record during the week at Summer League
5-for-8 Three-point shooting numbers for Grant Jerrett and Kyle Kuric combined
9 Players who scored for the Thunder, including five in double figures
10 Points for Steven Adams, including 4-for-5 shooting from the free throw line, and nine rebounds
11 Rebounds for Andre Roberson, a game-high
18 Points for Jeremy Lamb to lead the Thunder, in addition to four assists
24-for-32 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder including 17-for-20 from Adams, Lamb and Tony Taylor combined
29 Bench points for the Thunder, with 12 coming from Daniel Orton
The Thunder finished the Summer League 5-0 and as the first ever Orlando Summer League Champions. The Players will now spend the rest of their summer working hard, improving and preparing for training camp.