Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder

A High-Energy Summer League Finale

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast & Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com

LAS VEGAS - Thunder second year forward Josh Hall sized up his defender on the right wing. With a quick in and out move, Hall got a step on his San Antonio opponent. Two strides later, the North Carolina native was soaring above the rim as he jammed home a one-handed dunk.

On the sidelines, the Thunder bench leaped to their feet in excitement, hyping up their teammate who just rattled the goal. Even with a comfortable 20-plus point lead with less than two minutes in the fourth quarter, the Thunder’s energy both on and off the floor buzzed at a high level on the way to a commanding 116-91 win over the Spurs.

“Before the game, all the guys we huddled up and we emphasized just having fun,” said Hall who finished the night with 17 points and seven rebounds. “This is the last time that this group would be together. That was the main point, competing and having fun and living with the results at the end.”

Last season as a two-way forward for the Thunder, Hall was limited in his time on the floor due to injuries that kept him sidelined. Over the past two months, the North Carolina native spent his time in the Thunder practice facilities working on his body and building up strength to prepare for Summer League. Hall put that physicality on display with strong drives to the rim that earned him four trips to the free-throw line where he went a perfect 7-for-7.

Hall’s effort played a role in sparking an early run for the Thunder who found itself down nine points to open the first quarter. From that point, OKC closed out the frame on an assertive 20-2 run and didn’t look back.

The Thunder buckled down on the defensive end which led to opportunities in transition where guys finished strong at the basket. By the end of the game, the Thunder had racked up five and-one opportunities and in addition to Hall, five other Thunder players scored in double figures in an exhibition of balanced scoring and ball movement. The offense hummed through all four quarters as OKC shot 57 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and poured in 116 points – the most scored in a Summer League game this season.

“Really good ball movement, really good pace. I thought especially early when we got down, we kind of relied on our defense to do that for us,” said Thunder Summer League head coach Kameron Woods. “We were able to get some stops and we were able to get some layups. A lot of guys were able to get stuff around the basket and so inevitably when you see the ball go in like that, guys are more likely to start hitting jump shots and it kind of opened up our offense. But it was the ball movement and it started with our stops.”

It was point guard Rob Edwards who led the Thunder in the scoring column with a game-high 23. A large portion of his total 23 points came in a massive scoring surge in the third quarter where the former Arizona State Sun Devil poured in 15 points in a matter of three minutes – including a red-hot streak of 10 straight points.

“Rob is a special offensive player,” said Woods. “He can score from all three levels especially when his jump shot is going, and it was going tonight.”

With Summer League now in the rearview, the Thunder has its sights set on Training Camp and the lead up to preseason. For Thunder newcomers such as Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (15 points, eight rebounds) and Aaron Wiggins (10 points, five assists), the next several weeks will be dedicated to reflecting and building on the lessons and foundations built during Summer League and their first-ever NBA experience. The same will be true for returners such as Théo Maledon (11 points, seven assists) who not only took strides on the floor, but off the floor as well as he also took on a larger leadership role during the 10-day Summer League stint.

“It’s a great experience for both classes,” said Woods. “It’s an experience that’s an essential part of their growth.”


Summer Stories: Strong Finish



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