The Big Picture
The Thunder fell behind early in its matchup against the Lakers. A hot-shooting night from Los Angeles coupled with a slow offensive start for OKC forced the Thunder to play behind for the duration of the contest before falling 116-95. Los Angeles’s 19 3-pointers at a 45 percent clip proved to be the difference in the night as the Thunder shot just 22 percent from deep and 39 percent from the field. Offensively, it was Thunder rookie Tre Mann who led OKC in scoring with a career-high 19 points off the bench.
Moments from the 48
Second-Quarter Run The Thunder fell behind by 14 in the first frame and 25 in the first half. However, the team threw its biggest punch of the night in the second quarter to the tune of a 16-3 run to bring its deficit down to just 12 points. After missing all 11 of its 3-point attempts in the first quarter, the Thunder sank three in the second frame while also turning its defensive stops in to opportunities on the other end of the floor.
“Shots started falling for us, our defense picked up, we kind of plugged off a bit more and I think we communicated and got stops, got out and ran and we looked good,” said Thunder rookie Josh Giddey. “We started off slow again and played from behind all night.”
The Thunder wouldn’t be able to close the margin any further throughout the contest as the Lakers continued to shoot above 40 percent from deep while OKC struggled to match the offensive pace. LeBron James led all scorers with 33 points on 13-of-20 from the field and Avery Bradley added 22 of his own including six made 3-pointers.
“We could have been a little sharper on our rotations. A lot of that was advantages that were created in other parts of the game where I think we were a step late,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “With James and [Russell] Westbrook specifically – those guys really fire passes to the perimeter and if you're a step late to the initial help, now you're really late out to the shooter and I thought that's just the state we're in in the first half.”
Mann, What a Night Thunder rookie Tre Mann was the team’s leading scorer with a career-high 19 points on an efficient 8-for-15 shooting from the field including three 3-pointers. In addition to his career offensive numbers, Mann continued to show strides of competitiveness and aggression on the defensive end – an area the Thunder coaching staff has challenged Mann to add to his game.
“It's been building to this to be honest with you,” said Daigneault on Mann’s career night. “He's competing on a consistent enough level that it gives you confidence having him in the game.”
Mann’s most emphatic bucket of the night took place in the first half. After committing a foul on James on the other end of the floor that resulted in an and-one, Mann responded on the very next possession with a rim-rocking dunk of his own. The rookie accelerated past Carmelo Anthony and elevated for a determined one-handed jam over Wayne Ellington that sent all of Paycom Center into a roar.
“When it first happened, it just felt good because I had just gotten dunked on a play before,” said Mann. “So to come back and get one like that I felt good.”
Giddey’s Stat Line Mann wasn’t the only rookie with an impressive stat line against the Lakers. Australian point guard Josh Giddey finished the night with 12 points, seven rebounds and a team-high seven assists for the fourth time this season. Giddey now has the most games by a rookie in OKC history with a stat line of 10-7-7 or better.
VIPs in the Building All attention turned to the video board at the end of the first quarter. The crowd inside Paycom Center rose to their feet for a standing ovation as the Thunder recognized two very special guests inside the building – two of the three known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre. 107-year-old Mrs. Viola Ford Fletcher and her brother 100-year-old Mr. Hughes Van Ellis sported their Thunder uniforms while enjoying their first ever NBA game.
The Last Word
Josh Giddey on the Thunder’s takeaways… “There’s going to be nights like this. This is the NBA, guys made shots and there’s going be nights where teams shoot it bad and they shoot it great like the Lakers did tonight and it's not losing sight of the end goal. If we're making them make contested shots all night, it's not sustainable for 82 games.”
The Thunder’s four-game home stand will continue Sunday with a tilt against the Dallas Mavericks for the first time this season. The matchup is set to tip off at 6 pm CT and will air on Bally Sports Oklahoma.