GAME RECAP: THUNDER 101, ROCKETS 89


Paris Lawson

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter
okcthunder.com



The Big Picture

The Thunder concluded its four-game homestand on a high note with a 101-89 win over the Rockets. OKC’s defense dug in its heels and held Houston to under 90 points, a 35 percent clip from the field and a mere 28 percent from deep. Offensively, OKC guard Lu Dort recorded a new season high in scoring and provided the final slam to secure the team’s victory.


Moments from the 48

Lu’s Season-High
The Rockets looked to make a run in the fourth quarter by whittling down what was a 16-point Thunder lead to just single digits with two minutes left in the game. A monstrous put back dunk by Lu Dort literally slammed the door shut on Houston’s comeback effort, sealing the Thunder’s win. The jam also added to a new season high for Dort who registered a game-high 34 points and added to his career-long streak with five consecutive games scoring 20 or more points.

The Thunder’s third-year wing wasted no time getting started offensively with 11 points in the first quarter on 5-of-7 shooting. In the fourth, Dort added another 12 and finished the night shooting 14-of-22 from the field.

“It doesn't surprise me because of the quality of pro that he is and how hard he works, how consistent he is with his work, his humility to grow through his experiences,” said Daigneault. “When a guy like that, that's got that kind of substance improves, it's not overly surprising, but he's obviously on a nice run right now.”

“Just got to stay confident and always take the right shots,” said Dort. “I felt like I've been doing a good job just attacking the rim and taking the open shots. I just got to keep going.”


Second-Quarter Burst
Houston kept the game close after the first quarter, trailing by just three points. However, it was the second frame where the Thunder found its offensive rhythm. After going scoreless in the first quarter, OKC’s leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went on a solo six-point run behind three consecutive left-handed scoop layups to help give come cadence to the Thunder’s offense. Gilgeous-Alexander’s flurry ignited a 17-4 offensive run by the Thunder to close out the frame. By the end of the quarter, OKC outscored Houston 31-22 as Gilgeous-Alexander logged nine points while creating 11 points via assists.


Giddey’s Double-Double
For the second time in his young career, Thunder rookie Josh Giddey recorded a double-double on the stat sheet and remains the youngest player in Thunder history to accomplish the feat. After a stretch of games where offense was hard to come by as teams schemed defensively to limit his production, the Australia native racked up 14 points while pulling down 11 rebounds.

“I thought he did a nice job of kind of hitting the gas. I thought he's learning how teams are playing him,” said Daigneault. “He showed significant progress in his attacks from the last two games. He was really good.”


Different Look Defensively
The last time the Thunder faced Houston back in October, the Rockets burst out of the gates offensively and didn’t look back as they finished the night posting 124 points. Wednesday’s matchup was a completely different story as the Thunder’s defense held Houston to under 90 points while shooting just 35 percent from the field and 28 percent from the 3-point line.

“Big emphasis for us coming into tonight obviously,” said Giddey. “I think we executed our defensive schemes and principles well tonight. We made them make tough shots, we limited catch and shoot threes for their better shooters. We helped off the right guys. Overall tonight our defensive effort was really good.”

Rockets’ forward Christian Wood was a major factor in the Rockets first victory over OKC as he recorded 31 points. On Wednesday, Wood was held to just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field.

“We had a punch on him really early in the game and set a tone that he was going to have to earn everything,” said Daigneault. “He's a good player. He's still going to earn some plays. He had some big time plays tonight, but I thought that was the difference. Not only with him, but defensively we set a really good tone and we were able to sustain it for most of the game.”


The Last Word

Thunder rookie Josh Giddey on getting out to a strong start…
“The other games we've won, it's typically been slow start, halftime we get a spark and then we come back from a deficit. Tonight was the opposite. We talked about throwing the first punch and being the aggressors from the start that we did that tonight. We made them call the first time out. We got on the run, guys got going and that led us through the rest of the game.

Coach Daigneault on holding onto the lead through the night… “I thought we did a nice job of stabilizing tonight a couple times during their runs, and we did it with stops and we did it with a connected offensive output. It's always encouraging when the solution is kind of team-oriented stuff. It wasn't just guys making a shot. I thought we did it collectively with stops and we did it collectively on offense and that's a good sign.”


What’s Next

With the Thunder’s four-game home stand now wrapped, the team will have a day of practice before setting out on its three-game road trip through the Eastern Conference. The stint kicks off with a Milwaukee-Boston back-to-back on Friday and Saturday and will conclude in Atlanta on Monday.


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