Game Recap: OKC 123, LAL 115

The Big Picture

The Thunder put on a thriller of a performance in front of its home crowd on the second night of a back-to-back. A lopsided first quarter didn’t faze the resilient OKC squad who stayed the course against a larger, more experienced Lakers team. After falling behind by 26 points in the first frame, the Thunder rallied back through the remaining three quarters to earn its first win of the season while tying the largest comeback in Thunder history.

Moments from the 48

Resilient Bounce Back Effort The Lakers took the reins of the first quarter, outscoring the Thunder 41-19 in the first 12 minutes of action. At one point, OKC found itself in a 26-point deficit as Anthony Davis scored 12 points on 5-of-7 from the field. As a team, the Lakers were shooting a scorching 68 percent from the field and 62 percent from 3.

The Thunder have operated with a 48-minute mentality throughout the season, recognizing that one quarter doesn’t have to define and entire performance. The Thunder stayed disciplined in its game plan and effort shifting the momentum back in its direction to the tune of a 67-39 run to take a lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Thunder outscored Los Angeles through the remaining three quarters.

“Stuck with it and we stuck together. It's a 48-minute game,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “That was what really resonated tonight is how together the team was and how we solved problems with five guys. We hung in there together. The solution was in the team and we were rewarded for it. I'm really happy because we've had some early adversity and the guys just kept plugging away. It was an impressive performance by our guys.”

Defensive Lock Down After a strong 41-point quarter by the Lakers in the first quarter, the Lakers were held to just 43 total points in the second half behind a lackluster 19 percent performance from the 3-point line. The Thunder’s defense settled in to take away as many easy looks as possible and by the end of the night, earned 27 points off the Lakers 17 turnovers.

“In the second half, our help defense, our shell was just much more disciplined,” said Daigneault. “We were trying the first half, but we were erratic. It wasn't together, it wasn't in sync. Then we settled into the game and got that under control and forced them to earn everything they got and I thought our defense in the second half was really good.”

Darius Bazley led the Thunder with four steals on the night and even logged a massive block on Anthony Davis in the fourth quarter. Bazley added to his overall night with 20 points including a 4-of-8 performance from deep.

“He just got lost in the game,” said Daigneault. “He went out there and played great right from the jump. He was the one guy early that was really playing and he sustained it for 48 minutes tonight and he had the Davis matchup, that's a really tough matchup, and he did a great job there as well.”

Giddey’s Double-Double Thunder rookie Josh Giddey leads all rookies in total assists and assists per game. Against the Lakers, Giddey dished out a career-high 10 assists to go alongside 18 points for his first career double-double in his fifth NBA game. The effort marked the third fastest double-double reached by a rookie in OKC history.

In the second quarter, as the Thunder looked to claw its way back into the contest, Giddey opened the quarter with a flurry of three straight assists that helped to ignite the Thunder offense. The rookie was also responsible for the assist to Derrick Favors on the game-sealing bucket with 31.2 second left in the contest to put the Thunder ahead 118-115.

“He was kind of a catalyst of our ball movement tonight which is something that we've challenged him to do,” said Daigneault. “I thought he did that tonight.”

Balanced Scoring Attack As the Thunder’s offense turned the page in the second frame, the offensive contributions came from multiple sources throughout the night. Six players scored in double figures for the Thunder – all of whom scored 13 points or more in the contest. The Thunder’s five starters – Derrick Favors, Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey, Darius Bazley and Lu Dort – each scored 15 or more points.

“Everybody has to be ready,” said Dort who finished with 17 points. “The ball is going to find anybody and we’ve got to make a play.”

SGA’s Third Quarter Burst The crowd inside of Paycom Center collectively rose to their feet as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander advanced the ball up the floor. The clock dwindled down at the end of the third quarter as the Thunder trailed 94-95 with just 15 seconds remaining. Guarded by Russell Westbrook, Gilgeous-Alexander attempted a step back behind the arc, but was deterred by Westbrook at the last second. With a quick shot fake and maneuver to the right, Gilgeous-Alexander let it fly as the clock expired. To Gilgeous-Alexander’s surprise, the ball banked in off the backboard and through the rim to give the Thunder a 97-95 lead heading into the fourth quarter – the first lead of the game for OKC.

The bucket also marked the 17th point for SGA in the third frame alone. The fourth-year guard knocked down four 3-pointers and went 4-of-7 from the field while also dishing out three assists. By the end of the night, Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers with 27 points.

“I wanted to let the game come in the third quarter, not force it,” said Gilgeous-Alexander. “A couple of possessions, the shot clock went down and I had to go make a play and I made a few of them. I felt good. I felt hot and I just tried to keep it going and of ride the momentum.”

The Last Word

Josh Giddey on the team’s growth…“Teams are going to be older and more experienced, and we've got to throw the first punch. Tonight we didn't do that, but the resilience that we showed in that second half as a young group to fight back against a pretty veteran outfit in the Lakers speaks volumes to how we're tracking as a team. I think from the first game to now you can see growth from where we were at. We've got a really good, young, hungry group of guys and I think every night whether we're down 30 or up 30 we're gonna play with that same effort and intensity.”

What’s Next

Following its stretch of three games in four nights, the Thunder will now enjoy a two-day game break before hitting the road for the West Coast. There, the team will face Golden State on Saturday before facing the Clippers and Lakers on Monday and Thursday respectively.