Game Recap: OKC 103, PHI 115

The Big Picture

It had been exactly 600 days since the Thunder last had fans inside of its home arena for a regular season game. With the excitement of the crowd behind it, the Thunder put on a show against the Philadelphia 76ers bringing the energy and intensity through all four quarters. While the Thunder ultimately fell 115-103, it was an effort that proved the team has been soaking up the lessons from its previous games and practices and taking strides forward with each new opportunity.

Moments from the 48

Shai Heats Up Fourth year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 29 points against the 76ers. The Toronto native not only tallied nine hard-earned field goals, but also a 10-12 performance at the free-throw line. Gilgeous-Alexander was matched with Sixers’ defensive ace Matisse Thybulle throughout the night, but continued to find ways to get the ball to the rim while also finding his teammates for eight assists.

“He was downhill all night. They had a hard time handling him in the middle floor,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “I thought he had a really good pace to him. He was able to really attack in space without really holding it which keeps our offense moving and keeps the rhythm of the offense going. I thought he had just a really good balance tonight.”

Dort Gets 1K Lu Dort caught the ball on the perimeter and ripped past Tobias Harris into the lane. Sixers big man Joel Embiid slid over in front of the rim as an effort to deter Dort from an easy look. Unfazed, the Montreal native exploded toward the rim in confidence and jammed home a one-handed slam over the contest of Embiid. With that bucket, Dort surpassed 1,000 career points.

In addition to his offensive burst, Dort was also responsible for the fourth quarter defensive spark that launched a Thunder run to cut an 18-point deficit down to just eight. Back-to-back Dort defensive stops, plus a charge drawn all fanned the flames of the Thunder’s fourth quarter run.

“I felt like I’ve always been a scorer on my teams before going coming here to the NBA. I feel like I've been really confident on offense too,” said Dort. “Sometimes it's tough to do both things on defense and offense but I just got to always stay confident.”

“He's going [to the rim] strong obviously, but the spirit he's going with is nothing new for us and he's got to give us that,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “That's what he brings to the team, he brings kind of a fearlessness and a competitive edge that can be very contagious, and I thought we saw that at different times tonight. He was really competing tonight.”

Cooling off the 3-Point Line 76ers sharpshooter Seth Curry got Philadelphia off to a scorching start offensively. Curry came into the game having only missed one 3-pointer in the 76ers first two games and kept his momentum going with 23 points in the first frame behind six made 3-pointers in the first quarter alone. However, Curry wouldn’t score another basket for the rest of the contest.

“He made us pay in the first quarter, credit him he made shots, but you know we settled into the game pretty well tonight,” said Daigneault. “There were a couple times where they were trying to open the game up and we kept coming, it was competitively we were good tonight.”

Giddey Gets Going Thunder rookie Josh Giddey filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, six assists and eight rebounds. In addition, the Australia native snagged four steals on the night which is the most steals by any rookie in a game this season.

“He improved there tonight,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “He tracked forward, tonight was good night for him. One of the things that I think is an adjustment for him is just the speed of the game, the pace of possessions and also the athleticism of the guys he's guarding.”

MidFirst Bank Half-Court Shot Contest Winner The return of Thunder fans into Paycom Center meant the return of the beloved traditions that come with a Thunder game night including the MidFirst Bank half-court shot in front of a live crowd. In the very first attempt of the season, 21-year-old Connor O’Malley from Tulsa lined up his aim and launched a half-court shot that banked off the backboard and through the rim to win $20,000. O’Malley proudly held the supersized check above his head as the crowd in Paycom Center roared in approval.

“It’s crazy, I’m still processing it really. It’s really wild,” said O’Malley. “I was pretty nervous walking out there. There were a ton of people, the lights were right on me, but I just threw it up and tried to get somewhere close and luckily it went in.”

The Last Word

Josh Giddey on the team’s steps forward since the start of the season“Tonight I thought we play hard. We're a young group and there's going to be a lot of nights where we are outmatched experience-wise or physically and we've got to throw the first punch at these older more experienced teams and I thought tonight we did that. We didn't take a backward step and we competed 48 minutes. The result didn't go our way, but it's good to see the progress we're making day by day from the Utah game to this game.”

What’s Next

After a day of practice on Monday, the Thunder’s three-game homestand continues with a back-to-back against the Warriors on Tuesday and the Lakers on Wednesday.