A Competitive, Close Battle with Golden State
LAS VEGAS - In its third Summer League matchup, the Thunder burst out to a hot start offensively. The ball moved quickly into open hands and rapidly up the floor in transition. The strong offensive start was spurred by second-year point guard Théo Maledon who found his stroke from behind the arc early on.
On the right wing, the 20-year-old sized up his defender as he prepared to receive a ball screen. With nothing but a ball fake and a quick step back, Maledon was able to dislodge his defender to clear a wide-open look from deep. Maledon went 3-for-3 from the 3-point line before his first miss of the night which came with 90 seconds to go in the first half. By the end of the contest, Maledon cashed in 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep.
“For one Théo is a relentless worker, so everything that he accomplishes out there is a tribute to how hard of a worker he is,” said Thunder Summer League head coach Kameron Woods. “In terms of the impact of that, he has worked relentlessly on his shot and it opens up a lot for not only him but for our offense.”
After the first frame, the Thunder found itself in a grind of a close battle. The squad’s once comfortable 12-point lead was erased and suddenly Golden State had closed the gap to just one point. Rob Edwards, the 6-5 point guard on the Thunder’s Summer League roster, helped buoy OKC’s offense with aggressive plays at multiple levels. From hitting the gas towards the rim in transition to cashing in 3-pointers, the point guard finished the night with a game-high 23 points and six rebounds.
“Rob, he's a tough guy, but he's one of our better shooters. When he's out there, he helps us space the floor and I thought he came in really aggressively looking for a shot but looking for good ones. When he does that, it opens up his game and it opens up a lot for everybody else, so that aggression that he played with is something that we look forward to keep tapping into.”
“My mentality was just play my game, score the ball and try to make as many shots as I can from the team feeding me,” said Edwards. “Play my game, be aggressive.”
Both teams exchanged baskets and leads throughout the second, third and fourth frames. It wasn’t until the final minutes of the fourth quarter when the Warriors pulled away to take their first double-digit lead of the night. The Thunder ultimately fell 94-84 at the final buzzer, but it’s a lesson the squad will look to apply quickly as its next matchup will take place on Saturday against Indiana.
“I think we did a pretty good job competing, being intense defensively and executing on the offensive end,” said Maledon. “I think we can learn a lesson from the game that is a 40-minute game and we got to play, and finish through the finish line. We’ve got another game tomorrow so it's gonna be a good opportunity to learn our lessons and execute for the next game.”
“It's a 40-minute game. I thought they did that for the majority of the game and the message I gave them as well is if we do that for 40 minutes, you're going to be in games,” said Woods. “That's what we want to do – we want to compete, play together and ultimately be in these games. Good effort from our guys tonight for sure.”