Building on Lessons in Game Four of Summer League
LAS VEGAS – With each of its games throughout Summer League, the Thunder utilized the opportunity to reinforce its core themes of competing and playing together. On Saturday, that was no different as the group faced the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back. It would be another chance to underline those key themes against a brand-new opponent.
The Thunder fell behind early by nine points as Indiana came out of the gates hot offensively. Behind a quick surge of offense and defensive stops, OKC bounced back in the second quarter to take its first lead of the game despite shooting 6-of-22 in the first quarter. However, compounding factors of missed shots and turnovers opened the door for Indiana to get out on the break and take a commanding lead in the second half and ultimately seal the victory.
“Credit to Indiana. They really make you get off the ball early, they make you trust the pass and make you play as a unit,” said Summer League head coach Kameron Woods. “I thought we did that early and that's what kept us around. Then the way the game ebbed and flowed – we didn't make some, they made some. The game challenges your ability to do that over 40 minutes and I thought in pockets we lost that."
Even though the Thunder’s shooting night fell short overall, OKC’s second year forward Jaylen Hoard had his most efficient shooting performance of his Summer League campaign. The 22-year-old shot 7-of-9 from the field including a perfect 2-for-2 from behind the 3-point line on the way to a team-high 16 points.
Hoard’s buckets came in multiple forms: behind the arc, in the paint and above the rim. His most highlight worthy play, however, resulted from his movement without the ball in his hands. In the fourth quarter, Aaron Wiggins attacked the baseline and drew the attention of multiple defenders. Without hesitation, Hoard recognized the trap, sliced his way into the paint and received the pass from Wiggins for an easy two-handed jam. It was a confident, decisive play that reflected the mentality he had going into the game.
“Just not being hesitant. Playing with confidence,” said Hoard. “If I’m open shoot it, if I have a lane drive it. Just not over thinking things. I think my first three games I was thinking a lot, being hesitant at times and I think if I play with confidence, play with aggressiveness, I’ll be good.”
Right behind Hoard in the scoring column was Thunder rookie forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl who finished the night with a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double. While he was the Thunder’s second-leading scorer on Saturday, the standout offensive aspect of his game came in the form of offensive rebounds. Of the 10 boards Robinson-Earl pulled down against Indiana, eight of them were on the offensive end. When it comes to how Robinson-Earl was able to be so effective around the glass, Coach Woods had one word to describe it: “Force.”
“He’s a guy who’s really smart and thinks the game really well,” explained Woods. “Force for him is getting in and out of pick and rolls. Force for him is attacking the glass. Force for him is looking for his offense.”
The Thunder will have one more game before wrapping up its slate of Summer League exhibitions. The team will have the day off on Sunday, then take on the San Antonio Spurs on Monday at 4 p.m. CT.