By the Numbers: Thunder Comes Back, Poku Soars
After surrendering 30-or-more points in each of the first three quarters, the Thunder’s defense clamped down in the final frame to outscore the Memphis Grizzlies 38-22 for a 128-122 victory. It was a team-wide effort, with a variety of players and factors coalescing into a clutch come-from-behind win. Here are the numbers that told the story.
3-pointers made by rookie Aleksej Pokuševski in the game, part of a 23-point, 10-rebound, four-assist, one-steal and one-block performance. Pokuševski became the second-youngest player in NBA history to make five 3-pointers in a game behind only LeBron James.
Poku’s Work Continues in Return to Thunder for First NBA Start. @nickgallo22 reports— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 12, 2021
Made free throws for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, tying a personal season-high, and part of a 30-point, four-rebound, five-assist performance for the third-year guard. Gilgeous-Alexander made 8-of-17 field goals and 4-of-6 3-pointers while racking up nine fourth-quarter points including a pair of backbreaking 3-pointers inside of five minutes remaining to help the Thunder seal the win. It was his ninth 30-point game of the season.
Largest point deficit for the Thunder in this game, giving OKC its 10th double-digit comeback victory on the season, which is tied for the most in the NBA this season, and the fifth biggest comeback for the Thunder this year.
“We played hard through the whole fourth quarters. We played like a team. It was a great win,” said Pokuševski after the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
"My teammates believe in me. They keep talking to me every time I miss a shot... when you have teammates like that everything is good."— FOX Sports Oklahoma (@FOXSportsOK) March 14, 2021
Aleksej Pokusevski meets with @nickgallo22 following his 23-point performance against the Grizzlies! #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/O178Fgm3lD
Games this season where the Thunder has had six players score 10-or-more points. In addition to Pokuševski and Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder got double-digit scoring efforts from Kenrich Williams (17), Moses Brown (13), Ty Jerome (12), Darius Miller (11) and Isaiah Roby (10). Sunday was also the third time this season that the Thunder had seven players score double-figures.
“Just the ball movement and the willingness to let the ball make the play,” said Head Coach Mark Daigneault. “I didn't think the ball stuck at all. They didn't care who made the play or who took the shot. They just had it spraying around.”
Combined fast break points and second chance points for the Grizzlies in the game, thanks to a Thunder defensive effort that aimed to limit those easy junk points. The Grizzlies came in ranked in the top five in both statistical categories, averaging over 30 total fast break and second chance points combined, meaning OKC held Memphis to half its season average in those game-changing columns.
“We just dug in,” said Gilgeous-Alexander. “We knew what we needed to do – make multiple efforts, whether it be getting in a load or getting out to a shooter. We just did the necessary things.”
19 years, 78 days. Pokuševski’s age on Sunday in a game where he scored over 20 points, making him the youngest Thunder player to score at least 20 points in a game in OKC history. He also is the youngest player in NBA history to have a game with 20-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and five-plus 3-pointers.
“My teammates believe in me. They keep talking to me each time that I miss a shot - keep playing and everything is going to be good,” said Pokuševski. “When you have teammates like that, everything is great.”
Pokuševski became just the third Thunder rookie (Russell Westbrook, Darius Bazley) to put together a 20-10 double-double. His 10 rebounds are a career-high, while his four assists tied a career-best mark he set on New Year’s Eve 2020 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Career day for POKU.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 14, 2021
23 points | 5/8 3P| 10 rebounds pic.twitter.com/ELr23WwXxE
Shooting percentage for the Thunder from behind the 3-point line, the highest percentage for the team all season long. The Thunder made 12-of-20 3-pointers after halftime, with seven different players hitting at least one of the Thunder’s 16 made shots from behind the arc. It was the fourth time in Oklahoma City history that the Thunder shot over 50 percent from 3 on at least 30 attempts.