The Big Picture
The Thunder led by as many as 15 points in its matchup against the Warriors on Tuesday. However, the squad’s strong first half lead diminished behind a Warriors rally in the third quarter giving them their first lead of the game. A string of timely second half threes from Golden State put the Thunder behind through the final frame, but OKC continued to throw punches until the final buzzer. Despite the Thunder falling 106-98, the Thunder walked off the floor to the tune of a standing ovation inside of Paycom Center from a Thunder crowd who recognized the competitive fire put on display from their team Tuesday night.
Moments from the 48
Out to a Hot Start The Thunder landed the first punch in the opening moments against the Warriors. In the first five and a half minutes, the Thunder burst out on a 16-6 run leading into the first timeout of the game. During that time, the Thunder held the Warriors to 0-5 from the 3-point line and all five Thunder starters had scored at least one bucket.
The effort continued into the second quarter where OKC outscored Golden State 25-19 in the frame and led by as many as 15 points. The ball zipped around the floor leading to six first half dunks for the Thunder. By halftime, 10 of the 11 Thunder players who stepped on to the floor had scored as the team dished out 13 assists with eight different players recording at least one dime.
"We're playing together and after that we were getting stops and running, playing with pace,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. "We know that if we want to be our best selves, we gotta play with pace, get stops and stretch the floor. If you play in the half court, everything is condensed. We have guys that are athletes and can get out. You saw plenty of dunks in the first half."
JRE in the Starting Lineup The Thunder got its first look at big man Derrick Favors in the lineup after he missed the first two games with knee soreness. The 11-year veteran showed his offensive efficiency in the pick and roll, finding the open spots on the floor and finishing short floaters around the basket. By the end of the night, Favor finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting
Thunder rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl stepped into the starting lineup for the Thunder and scored the team’s first five points of the game. By the end of the night, Robinson-Earl tallied 12 points, 5 rebounds and a steal. The rookie provided a different look at the center spot with his ability to stretch the floor out of the pick and roll and knock down 3’s. He went 2-for-4 from behind the arc on the night.
"He's been unbelievably professional. He's an attack the program guy. He competes,” said Daigneault. “He really competed all night. He wasn't perfect, but he's a guy that's a pro. He's gonna put his work boots on and come to work tomorrow and improve again. That's encouraging."
Dort’s Defensive Night Heading into Tuesday’s matchup, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault was looking forward to seeing Lu Dort’s matchup with Stephen Curry. Despite Lu entering into his third NBA season, Tuesday’s game marked just the second time the two guards have faced one another. While Curry finished the night with 23 points, Dort’s defensive presence – chasing over screens, denying passing lanes and showing strong contests – forced Curry into tough shots throughout the night.
“I thought Lu did a great job on Curry,” said Daigneault postgame. “A lot of teams throw two guys at him, but a lot of teams don't have Lu Dort and we challenged him to take that on tonight. And he did an unbelievable job. That guy earned everything got.’
A Fight in the Fourth Despite falling down by as many as 10 points in the second half, the Thunder refused to go down without a fight. OKC cut Golden State’s double-digits lead to five midway through the final frame, thanks to defensive stops and a couple of big time triples from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who finished the night with a season-high 30 points. However, timely 3-pointers by Damion Lee kept the Warriors afloat through the final minutes.
As the final buzzer sounded inside of Paycom Center, Thunder fans rose out of their seats to applaud the effort the young Thunder displayed against the Warriors. The standing ovation from the OKC faithful served as a sign of recognition for the work, fight and competitive spirit that the team representing them put on display throughout the night, despite falling short in the final moments.
“I'm not Oklahoman but I've been here for eight years, and I know that Oklahomans have a pride in their work ethic, their togetherness and earning everything rolling their sleeves up and I have a lot of faith that if our team embodies that on the court, it'll really connect to them and they can grow with us,” said Daigneault. “We're going to grow, we punched hard tonight. Didn't get the win, obviously but we have a lot of faith that this fan base will grow with us and that they will appreciate the kind of things that transcend the outcome of an individual game and I thought tonight was an example of that.”
The Last Word
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the team’s competitive spirit…"It was good. We want to bring that every night and that's something that we want to be part of our identity, something that we hang our hat on every night, what we know we do, without a thought process, without it being praised, without it being even noticed. That's just who we are."
It will be a quick turnaround for the Thunder who will wrap up its three-game home stand with a tilt against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday evening for the second half of its first back-to-back of the regular season. From that game, OKC will head out to the West Coast where they’ll take on the Warriors for the second time in a matter of three games.